Afternoon storms are common in the mountains, especially during the summer. If you ever get caught in a lightning storm, here's how you can increase your chances of survival.
The best way to keep from being struck by lightning is to plan your hikes wisely. Pay close attention to local weather forecasts and stay in low-lying areas until small storms have passed. Since thunderstorms occur more often in the afternoon or evening, you will be better off hiking early and returning by mid-afternoon. That said, it doesn't guarantee you won't get caught in a morning storm.
Even if you take proper preventative actions, you could still get caught in a lightning storm by surprise. If this occurs, you need to take specific steps to reduce your risk of getting struck. First, start counting from the moment you see a flash of lightning to the moment you hear thunder; if the time is less than 30 seconds, the storm is close enough for lightning to reach you.
As a last resort, you should assume the lightning safety position: Keep your boots close together and crouch down on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and try to minimize the surface area of your body in contact with the ground. Keep in mind that this position should only be used if you are unable to leave an especially high-risk area.
National Geographic estimates the average person's odds of being struck by lightning to be just 1 in 700,000 in any given year. That said, over the course of a single lifetime, your odds of being struck increase to 1 in 3,000. If you hike a lot, you can expect your odds to be even bigger. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk by paying attention to weather conditions and planning your hikes accordingly.
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