There are lots of snappy sayings to help you remember lightning safety: When the thunder roars, get indoors! If you can see it, flee it! But what do you do when you’re caught outdoors with almost nowhere to hide? The National Outdoor Leadership Schools, or NOLS, and other experts, recommend the following.
IF YOU ARE CLOSE TO YOUR VEHICLE OR AN ENCLOSED STRUCTURE
Get inside something—your car, a house, a barn. Open shelters such as picnic shelters provide little to no protection.
IF YOU ARE CAMPING
Avoid open fields and ridge tops during seasons when thunderstorms are prevalent. Stay away from fence lines, metal and tall, isolated trees. Tents provide no protection. If you are in dangerous open terrain during a thunderstorm, leave the tent and assume the “lightning crunch” (described in the last paragraph).
IF YOU ARE IN OPEN COUNTRY
Avoid the high ground and contact with dissimilar objects, such as water and land, boulders and land, or single trees and land. Head for ditches, gullies, or low ground. Spread out at least 50 feet apart and assume the “lightning crunch.”
IF YOU ARE ON THE WATER
Head inside a boat cabin, which offers a safer environment. Stay off the radio unless it is an emergency. Drop anchor and get as low in the boat as possible. If you’re in a canoe on open water, get as low in the canoe as possible and as far as possible from any metal object. If shore only offers rocky crags and tall isolated trees, stay in the boat.
IF YOU CANNOT FIND SHELTER
Some experts believe that the “lightning crunch” provides little to no protection for a direct or close strike, but at this point, some action is better than nothing. Stand on an insulated pad or bag of clothes. Do not stand on packs; the metal in frames and zippers could increase chances of a lightning strike. Put your feet together and balance on the balls of your feet. Squat low, wrap your arms around your legs, tuck your head, close your eyes and cover your ears. Maintain the position until danger passes.