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How to Stay Safe Backpacking in a Storm

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Discover essential safety tips to stay safe during a storm while hiking the trail

This video is part of the health and safety chapter of our free hiking program. Find all the videos on our website

Remember not to panic, and to adopt the crouched safety position in the event of lightning strikes

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Voice-over by Dominic di Rollo

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emilywade - Sikana
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Protecting yourself in the event of a storm

In this video, you're going to learn the right things to do when a storm takes you by surprise during a hike. Prevention is the best way to avoid an accident but if you're caught out, a few simple measures can protect you.

A storm moves very quickly, so as soon as you see a flash of lightning or hear thunder, take the right precautions: leave places at risk, find shelter and make sure you are safe.

Firstly, leave places at risk. Dangerous places include summits, pointed and isolated areas.

In the event of a storm, leave areas with large open spaces and descend at least 30 meters from the highest point, moving towards the valley.

Be careful not to seek refuge in an area which could quickly become flooded, such as riverbanks, even if they appear to be dried out.

In each case, move quickly but stay calm.

Secondly, find shelter. The golden rule is to find shelter in an area that is not isolated.

If you are in a forest, for example, you can take shelter under a tree provided that it is not the highest tree and only if it is part of a group of trees. In the countryside, find shelter in a stone house or a barn, but again only if it is not a building standing alone.

Avoid sheltering yourself near rocky walls, because thunder can cause the rocks to fall.

Move away from metallic objects, such as pipes or gates, which attract electricity.

Thirdly, keep yourself safe by adopting the crouch position. If you can't get out of a dangerous area, such as a large plain, crouch down to protect yourself from lightning.

To avoid being struck by lightning from the ground, stand on an insulating material such as your coat, bag, groundsheet or a large stone.

Crouch down and curl yourself up into a ball with your feet together, and wrap your arms around your knees.

If in a group, make sure you all stand at least 20 m a part. This means you will avoid multiple lightning strikes.

In the event of a storm, remember to leave risky areas, find shelter, and to keep yourself safe by crouching down. Stay calm - storms never usually last for more than one hour.


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