Newsflash: Teenage Boy Dies After Being Struck By Lightning While Camping In Back Garden

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 30th, 2010

Copyright 2006 Karin Manning

Now that?s a true story.

It?s true also that you don?t have to be hit directly by lightning to be affected.

Experts say that it?s ?pretty unlikely? that you will be hit by lightning in your lifetime. However, more people are, in fact, killed by lightning than any other weather phenomenon. Not only that, hundreds of people a year in the US alone are injured by lightning. People who are in the ?high risk? category are people who climb mountains and, believe it or not, golfers.

The 1997 Philmont Scout Ranch "Guidebook to Adventure" has this to say about keeping yourself safe from lightning:

?The summits of mountains, crests of ridges, slopes above timberline, and large meadows are extremely hazardous places to be during lightning storms. If you are caught in such an exposed place, quickly descend to a lower elevation, away from the direction of the approaching storm, and squat down or kneel down on a pad, keeping your head low. A dense forest located in a depression provides the best protection. Avoid taking shelter under isolated trees or trees much taller than adjacent trees. Stay away from water, metal fences and other objects which will conduct electricity long distances.?

?By squatting or kneeling on a pad with your feet close together you have minimal contact with the ground, thus reducing danger from ground currents. If the threat of lightning strikes is great, your crew should not huddle together, but spread out at least 100 feet apart. If one member of your crew is jolted, the rest of you can give assistance. Keep track of one another by numbering off in a loud voice from time to time. Whenever lightning is near, take off backpacks with either external or internal metal frames. Be sure to pitch your tents in an area that is protected from lightning strikes. (p.30)?

Here are a few extra pointers on what exactly you can do when lightning strikes:

If you pitch your tent in an open field make sure there are tree or rock formations at a greater height nearby.

Try to avoid pitching your tent near roots as lightning may travel along the roots of trees.

Should you feel electrical energy building and your dry hair stands on end then get as low as possible straight away to reduce the human lightning rod effect.

If lightning flashes all around while you are in your boat get down below the gunnels to reduce the lightning rod effect.

Always check there are no leaning trees, particularly dead ones.

Should lightning strike while you are in your tent sit up straight away and bring your legs up to your chest so that only your bottom and your feet are in contact with the ground. A double foam sleeping bag may help with protection.

Ensure you have a dry tent by using a ground cloth inside your tent.

Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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