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When walking or camping in the forest, if suddenly thunderstorms occur, how should you handle it?

According to the Viet Nam Meteorological and Hydrological Administration, our country has about 2 million bolts of lighting each year. Lightning bolts are very dangerous and cause a high casualty rate. Lightning bolts are very dangerous and cause a high casualty rate. Especially when people participate in outdoor sports activities such as trekking, climbing, camping, it is easy to encounter heavy rain with lighting.

In nature, we are very susceptible to unforeseen risks. Therefore, we need to be well prepared for unexpected situations that may arise. Here is a guide to lightning prevention when participating in outdoor sports activities that Tropical Trekking wants to share with you. Hope this article provides all the useful information you are looking for.

Where does lightning usually strike?

90% of lightning strikes from the atmosphere are made of negative ions. Negative ions from the base of the cloud will often be released into areas that accumulate a lot of positive ions such as hills, large trees, metals, electronic devices, ... or places that are easy to conduct electricity such as rivers and streams,... This causes insane quick energy known as lightning which can be extremely dangerous. Thunder follows lightning as thunder is created from a shockwave in lightning.

“Statistics in the US show that 27% were struck by lightning in an open heights, 19% were near trees, 8% were swimming or near water, 3% were near machinery, 2.3% were using a mobile phone, 0.7% related to radio, television, antenna...; In addition, 40% of people who are struck by lightning do not have a clear launch path.” (source

Cloud-to-ground lightning is the type of lightning with the highest level of danger. They are between clouds and ground, maybe striking directly at people. The second type is a horizontal lightning strike. This means that lightning strikes an object causing that object's electric current to travel through the air and hit the person. The third is a lightning strike by contact. When a person comes into direct contact with an object being struck by lightning, that person will also be struck by lightning. Fourth is lightning hitting the object. The current from the lightning is transmitted to the ground, people standing near that area will be struck by lightning. And the last type is being struck by lightning when using electronic devices, televisions, phones, ...

How to prevent lightning strikes?

Prevention is always better than cure, if we prepare carefully from the beginning, we will know how to deal with lightning safer.

Check the weather before your trip

You can look up information on the Internet or ask locals. The Tropical Trekking guides will also inform you about the weather conditions before the trip so you can prepare carefully. In case of bad weather, delaying the schedule or departing earlier is the best choice.

Always have a backup plan

When the weather is bad, the trip time will not be as originally planned. Therefore, you should have calculations about safe locations and estimated travel times.

Survey the surrounding environment

When you see the sky appears signs of thunderstorms or heavy rain. Remember to check the area around you to find a safe haven.

Lighting safety and outdoor sports activities

Locations easily hit by lightning:

  • The top of the mountain or position you stand is higher than the surrounding terrain
  • Under a tall tree
  • The tent has a metal frame
  • You stand alone on the empty land
  • Under rivers, streams, and rock holes
  • The members of the trekking group are gathering in one place
  • Metal and electronic devices

After determining your location, you can look to other safer locations.

  • Leaving the tent, the tall trees stood alone on the open ground. Instead, you can stand under a lower tree, uneven cliffs,...
  • Look for areas that are lower than the surrounding terrain, such as valleys.
  • Try to keep the body as dry as possible, stay away from rivers and streams at least 100m because water is conductive.
  • Please check the items made of conductive metal that you carry such as: trekking backpack with iron frame, trekking pole, knife, ax, jewelry, ... made of metal. Keep them at least 30 meters away from your body.
  • Do not gather too many shelter groups, as they can attract lightning. Each person should stand 20-30m apart to avoid the whole group being hit by lightning. In some cases, you can also shelter in groups of two, to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

In case you can't find shelter

Lighting safety and outdoor sports activities

If you feel lightning approaching but you can't find shelter in time, you should do the following squat:

  • Sit down with your body as close to the ground as possible.
  • Cover your ears with both hands, to avoid touching the ground and avoid the risk of deafness when lightning is approaching
  • Lift your heels and touch them together, so that your feet have as little contact with the ground as possible. Because when lightning strikes down, the chance of current entering your body is lower.

That pose is not 100% safe, but they do reduce the risk of serious injury if struck by lightning. After the lightning stops working, you should wait 30 minutes before resuming it.

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