Lightning strikes kill hundreds of people each year. Surprisingly, most people (even preppers!) have no clue how to survive during a plain old thunderstorm or how to treat a victim of a lightning strike. I put together a list of tips that will help you and your family members stay alive by avoiding a strike and by knowing how to treat a victim.
- Take cover before the lightning storm starts. This is the simplest, most common sense survival advice I have. Yet, most people are stupid enough to ignore it. If you see dark clouds, hear thunder or see lightning out in the distance, it is you clue to not be a moron and take cover. Monitor weather conditions, keep your eye and ear out for watches and warnings. Tents, lean-tos, sheds, gazebos or partially demolished buildings do not constitute a shelter. Lightning can get inside and basically, “find you.”
- If you are caught outside in a vehicle, roll up the windows and stay in the vehicle. Vehicles with retractable fabric roofs are not considered safe. If you are on foot and there is no shelter in sight, find a low spot to take shelter. Make sure it is away from trees, tree trunks and tall objects. Pipes, metal fences and other metal structures. If you feel your skin tingle and your hair standing straight up, you are likely going to be hit by lightning. At this point, you have seconds to get in position.
- Do not lie down on the ground
- Quickly put your feet close together
- Crouch down on the balls of your feet, getting as low as possible
- Put your hands on your knees and put your head on your hands, covering your ears
- Close your eyes
- Do not put your hands or knees on the ground
Closing your eyes will protect them from the bright flashes and covering your ears will prevent the damage from the loud thunder.
- If you have a special hiking backpack (the kind with metal rod inserts), get rid of it s soon as you detect a lightning storm and take shelter at least 100 feet away from it.
- If someone in your family or group is struck by lightning they are likely in cardiac arrest. Call 911, Check the person and begin CPR. Timely CPR dramatically increases survival chances in lightning strike victims. Please remember, the victim’s body does not retain any charge and there is absolutely no danger to you in touching him or her. If CPR doesn’t work, use an AED device (hopefully, you have one in your medical bag.)
- If there is a persistent lightning around you, wait until it is safe to help the victim before you leave your shelter.
- Once you resuscitate and stabilize the victim, examine and treat for other injuries, such a burns and wounds. Interestingly, lightning strike victims may also suffer fractures.
Practice lightning survival skills! Give the lightning safety position a try.
To your survival,