3 Simple Tips for Surviving a Lightning Storm

Cyclops and the triple lightning strikes
 John Finney Photography/Getty Images

WATCHING A SUMMER LIGHTNING storm roll in is one of the great pleasures of the season—assuming, that is, you can get inside before it hits. Odds are you’ll never get struck. But if you do, you can all but guarantee that’ll happen in July or August—lightning’s busy season.

 

There’s also a 79 percent chance that you’ll be a male, probably fishing or at the beach, according to the National Weather Service. In 2017, 16 people nationwide died from a strike, a modest number compared with the 432 Americans killed by one in 1943.

Still, these flashes of energy— a collision of protons and electrons—do hit the U.S. some 25 million times a year.

You could toast 100,000 slices of bread with the energy from a strike, or power a house for a month. So take heed. Because for all of mankind’s medical achievements, there’s still little that can be done should you find yourself on the receiving end of a bolt.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS SURVIVAL TIPS

ON THE TRAIL
Never shelter under a rock overhang. Picnic gazebos can be just as bad. Instead, find small trees surrounded by much larger ones.

IN OPEN COUNTRY
Avoid high ground at all costs. Try to find dirt ditches or ravines.

TAKE POSITION
If a strike is imminent, crouch down with your heels together and only the balls of your feet touching the ground. Cover your ears, and don’t lie flat.

This article is part of our Summer School series, a comprehensive guide to acing the year’s best season.