Experienced hikers let the weather tell them whether to GO or NOT GO on a hike.
Even though they are not accurate 100% of the time, they definitely have lower chances to get wet or struck by lightning than someone who didn’t even check their weather app before leaving.
However, sometimes even the weather news are incorrect and you can’t even rely on them entirely.
You gotta be prepared for whatever may come and know how to get out of any situation. Keeping that in mind, let me tell you how to be safe from thunderstorms when you are out on a hike.
Know before it happens
The best precaution is to spot the clouds before they are near.
These clouds who are responsible for the lightning storms are easily recognizable. These cumulonimbus clouds usually have a flat bottom and most of the time, they are fluffed vertically. Basically, they resemble an anvil.
It’s pretty easy to find this type of clouds in the sky and be prepared for the thunderstorms.
How far is it happening
There is no specific formula that you can use without any equipment to determine how far the clouds are hovering. But basically, you can estimate the distance between you and the thunderstorms from the time difference between the thunder and the lightning.
If the difference between the thunder and the lightning is 5 seconds, it’s happening almost a mile from you.
After finding out the distance between you and the thunderstorm, check if there is any place to take shelter around you where you can reach before the thunderstorm comes close you.
Move away from tall structures or trees
If you realize that there is no time to go look for a shelter or there is no shelter within miles then you should try making your position as safe as possible at the place you are.
First, move away from any and all the tall structures or trees. These are “hotspots” for thunderstorms so it is advised that you stay away at least twice the height of the long trees and infrastructures to avoid any accidents.
Also, if you came with your hiker friends, keep a safe distance of 15 feet from each other.
Duck, Lift & Cover
Once you have found a safe distance from the tall tree, it’s time to DUCK, LIFT, & COVER.
Duck or Crouch down on your feet while your head goes as close as possible to your knees.
Then Lift. While you are at your sitting position, lift up your heel. In this position, you are only sitting on your toes. Here the goal is to minimize the contact with the ground or anything else. So you can also put a dry log under your feet. It helps to.
Lastly, Cover your ears. The thunder that is followed by the lightning can seriously affect your hearing so it is best you cover your ear close so that the noise is minimum. You should cover your ears with your hands, not with your scarf or muffler because they won’t do a good job keeping the sound out of your ear canals.
Wait a while to start again
You should at least wait for 15-20 minutes before you start walking through the threes. Best if you could avoid the route through the forest.