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Being stranded outdoors when lightning is striking nearby is a harrowing experience. Your only truly safe choice is to get to a safe building or vehicle. If you are participating in outdoor activities and cannot get to a safe vehicle or shelter, follow these tips. They will not prevent you from being hit, just slightly lessen the odds:

- Do not seek shelter under tall, isolated trees. The tree might help you stay dry, but it will significantly increase your risk of being struck by lightning.

- Do not seek shelter under partially enclosed buildings.

- Stay away from tall, isolated objects. Lightning typically strikes the tallest object. That could be you in an open field or clearing.

- Know the weather patterns of the area. For example, in mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon.

- Know the weather forecast. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms, curtail your outdoor activities.

- Do not place your campsite in an open field, on the top of a hill or on a ridge top. Keep your site away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees. If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area.

- Wet ropes can make excellent conductors. If you are mountain climbing and see lightning, remove unnecessary ropes extended or attached to you.

- Stay away from metal objects, such as fences, poles and backpacks. Metal is an excellent conductor.

- If lightning is in the immediate area and there is no safe location nearby, stay at least 15 feet from other members of your group so lightning won't travel between you. Keep your feet together and sit on the ground out in the open.

- If you can run to a vehicle or building, do so. Sitting or crouching on the ground is not safe and should be a last resort.

Source: National Weather Service


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