Author Topic: Lightning safety for backpackers  (Read 1349 times)

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Offline Scratch

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Lightning safety for backpackers
« on: March 03, 2016, 10:15:46 AM »
I was watching this video about a tree fire in Defiance, OH, it has sort of gone viral (and it has picked up the usual crap descriptions when people post links to it, calling it a “Devil Tree”).

https://youtu.be/lSOFzzYtkKg

It got me thinking about lightning safety for backpackers, this was one of the top suggested videos.

https://youtu.be/PVSCD1mdzY0

NOLS in Wyoming made this video about lightning safety, sorta rips off the Mythbusters in format, but
I don't think that show can copyright the format of refuting bad info.

At any rate, the video has some good info and is worth watching. The best part is the explanation of lightning ground currents, they have a real life demo that shows how you can get shocked by having a wide foot stance, and that keeping your feet together is the best way to prevent ground current from killing you.

Interesting bit – at 5:49, they show what they call the “lightning position”, which they show as sitting on a sleeping pad, with the feet together and drawn up (but still a foot away from the butt). I have read other lightning safety articles which recommend staying in a crouch, with feet together but still only touching the ground with feet alone. Here is another “Mythbusting” article -

http://www.backpacker.com/survival/survival-lightning-myths-busted/

They call the use of a sleeping pad as an insulator a myth in this story. I'm guessing what they are talking about is the theory that you could lay out on your pad and be safe from lightning, as long as all of your body parts are on the pad. But they don't really get into the detail of the position you should be in. Crouching in a ball with feet only touching, on top of a pad, seems like the best idea, but you can't do that for long without getting tired, so is the position with your butt on the ground (but on the pad) really that bad?

I just tested – I can go about five seconds with my feet together in a tight crouch. I think I will be sitting on my pad in a lightning storm.

Something else neither of these lightning safety stories cover, keeping your hands over your ears. If lightning strikes within a few feet, and you are safe from ground currents because you are in the correct position, the deafness caused by the thunder is going to last from hours to permanently. So bringing earplugs might be a good idea for both snoring in shelters, and lightning safety.

One final thing – look at the background at 6:15 in the NOLS video. What the – how did this get into a video created by a Wyoming organization?

Direct link to that part of the vid - https://youtu.be/PVSCD1mdzY0?t=6m15s
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 10:20:29 AM by Scratch »
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