Sunday, August 15, 2010
Being a Lightning Rod
Lately in these parts, a lot of discussion has been about what makes you more attractive to lightning, more likely to be injured or killed. Recent data indicates that human fatalities each year occur approximately half the time from the effects of the ground current (the human is not hit directly) while only about two to four percent occur when the human is the target. With ground current as the most likely culprit, you definitely want to limit your contact with the ground during a storm. The old "lightning position," huddled up on a non-conductive pad with your feet close together (although it has never been proven safer), is suggestive of being safer. If you are walking toward a safer spot with trekking poles, do not let them touch the ground during a storm. They may conduct ground current up into your body. Carry them in your hand and away from the ground or in your backpack. The old and basic principles of lightning safety still apply: look for the safest spot as soon as you start hearing thunder, stay out of the open, avoid being near large bodies of water, do not hang out beneath or even near tall isolated objects, and stay out of wet caves or overhangs. Look for low rolling hills or trees of approximately uniform height.