Natural Wonders

How Best To Survive A Lightning Strike If You’re Up A Mountain Or In The Sea

Essential survival tips if you find yourself exposed to the elements

Credit: iStock/Photo Dr Strangelove

You may have heard the sad news from the Brecon Beacons in Wales this weekend, where two hill walkers were struck and killed by lightning, while a further two are recovering in hospital, having been struck in a separate incident.

The advice in a thunderstorm is of course to stay indoors but what if you get caught in one when you’re out and about?

According to the Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents, lightning strikes the ground in the UK around 30,000 times a year, with between 30-60 people getting hit. On average three of those strikes (5-10%) will be fatal. Hill walkers, rock climbers, swimmers, golfers, fisherman, farmers and campers are amongst those most likely to get struck. Not surprising really given they’re outdoors and in exposed locations the most.

Credit: iStock/PhotoZidaric

ROSPA‘s advice is to take shelter inside a large building or motor vehicle, keeping away from wide open spaces and hilltops.

But if you are exposed when a storm is brewing…

You should make yourself as small a target as possible by crouching down with your feet together, hands on knees and your head tucked in.

This keeps you off the ground as much as possible.

You should not shelter beneath tall or isolated trees, as it’s thought one in four people are struck by sheltering under trees.

Credit: iStock/KonArt

When choosing a campsite, pitch your tent away from the highest points in a field and if you stay in your tent in a storm stay away from poles and other metal objects. Step away from your bike.

If you’re on water, get to the shore and off wide open beaches as quickly as possible as water will transmit strikes from further away. But if the flash (of lightning) to bang (of thunder) time gap is less than 30 seconds you’re close to the centre of the storm. So if you’re on your surfboard and can’t get to shore crouch down in the middle of the board.

The best advice of all is to check the weather forecast and stay away from exposed spots if thunderstorms are forecast.

Read more at ROSPA

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