I get it, camping in a thunderstorm is NOT a pleasant thing.
Sometimes we have no choice but to hunker down and wait it out. That’s when things get dangerous.
However, we might be too far from our vehicle, or it may be passing in a couple of hours.
Whatever option you choose, do know that you can wait out a passing thunderstorm so your trip isn’t completely ruined.
I’ve waited out many thunderstorms, so I absolutely know what I’m talking about 😀 Enjoy!
For the sake of this article, I’m assuming you’re in the wilderness and your vehicle is a long way away.
First and foremost, what is a flash flood?
A flash flood is a flood that occurs in a fast amount of time.
They commonly happen in ditches, ravines, and at the bottom of hills.
This is why you should never pitch your tent in these areas, because flash floods mostly happen at nighttime, and you will become a victim.
The most common flash flood death is caused by people driving into rising waters, so avoid doing this at all costs, especially when you don’t know how deep the water is!
Lightning is incredibly dangerous.
Lightning strikes are usually minor, but there are some instances where it will strike continuously.
These flashes CAN reach the ground.
Even though there’s a very low chance for you to get struck by lightning, you still need to have it in the back of your mind.
These strikes are completely random. They are fatal, and if the victim does survive, they will be left with long-term scars – physical and mental.
Perform CPR right away if someone is struck by lightning
When lightning reaches our heart, there is a massive shutdown.
The victim has a much higher chance of surviving if somebody performs CPR right away.
Don’t wait 5 minutes, don’t wait 1 hour, and definitely do not NOT try.
The only time to perform CPR on someone is when their heart has stopped. Never forget that.
If what I have said right here, right now, saves at least one life, then I know I’m contributing good energy into the world – which is needed now more than ever before.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff!
1. Get shelter asap – this does not mean your car
If lightning is going off continuously, you need to realize that you have a higher chance of getting struck.
Get off the peak of a mountain and get as low as possible.
You do not have to be directly struck to suffer the consequences. Lightning travels through the ground and bounces off of nearby objects.
Yes, you can still be struck while in a tent, but at least you can keep warm while lowering your chances of getting hypothermia.
Stand up in the tent, ground currents may travel through your leg and out the other, missing your heart entirely.
For best results, walk around in the tent (if it’s large enough). You will lower the chances of getting hit by ground currents.
A rule of thumb: Use trees as your shelter, however, stay away from their bases, now pitch your tent so you have somewhere to keep warm.
2. Minimize your contact with the ground
If there’s absolutely no chance for you to walk around in your tent to reduce the danger of ground currents, there’s something else you can do.
Stand on a foam mattress or backpack, place your feet close together and crouch or squat.
This will lower your overall height and keep you insulated from the cold, hard ground.
Keep your shoes on for extra warmth!
Lying down in your tent during a thunderstorm is a recipe for disaster.
However, that does NOT mean you will definitely get hit by lightning. I’m just trying to increase your chances of surviving.
What you do is entirely up to you.
Don’t think I’m just being picky, because that is not the case. There is an average of 51 deaths per year in the United States alone.
And you may be next if you’re not careful.
3. Use meadows, caves, and open spaces to your advantage
Caves work best, because you are much safer from strong winds and rain, lightning strikes, and you’ll be much warmer than sitting out in the open.
You lower the risk of getting hypothermia and struck by lightning directly.
Lightning can still travel through the ground and to you, of course, but the current may cut out before reaching you when you’re in a cave.
4. Stay at least 20 feet away from fellow campers
Lighting travels through the ground, so being all bunched up means you will get hit all at once.
Then who’s going to perform CPR when everyone is unconscious?
Of course being 20 feet apart is not possible if you’re all in the same tent, but it is very possible for people out in the open or when everyone has their own tent.
5. Keep all metal items away from your refuge
When you’ve found somewhere to hunker down until the storm passes, remove all metal items and place them far, far away.
Metal conducts electricity, so you’re asking to get struck if you keep them near you.
And that is why hunkering down in your vehicle isn’t the best option.
If your tent has steel or non-anodized poles, you might want to stay away at all costs.
Luckily for you and I, these are mostly used on older tents.
Don’t be “that guy”, the one that refuses to get off a hill because he wants to be the “macho man”.
You will set a bad example for everyone around you and you won’t be impressing anyone.
Thank you to the people that are taking this seriously. You are the ones that will survive a thunderstorm and come back home safe and well.
The macho men are the ones that end up getting hurt, or even worse, killed
Staying in your tent is probably the best option, taking into consideration that you’re actually pitched in a good spot (away from tree bases, below the treeline, etc)
This means if you pitch your tent in a good spot FIRST, you won’t need to move when a thunderstorm passes through the night.
Thanks for reading.
Don’t forget to share this article. You may save a life just by taking two clicks out of your day. Please, your friends and family will thank you for it!
Leave all your questions and concerns in the comments below!
1. Have you been stuck in a thunderstorm while camping before?
2. How will you prepare for next time?