Storm - how to survive the element in the mountains?

2021-07-27
Storm - how to survive the element in the mountains?

The storm carries many risks. It is especially dangerous in the mountains, where the accompanying rain and gusty wind can lead to the cooling of the body and lead to death from hypothermia. However, these weather conditions are not the greatest threat to us. Lightning bolts, because we are talking about them, killed more people in the mountains than any wild animal.

How to predict the arrival of a storm?

Are you walking along a rocky ridge and suddenly, for no apparent reason, you run out of oxygen? It's getting stuffier and moments later a chill wind starts blowing? See how the sky is obscured by dark, vertically growing puffed clouds? You shouldn't have any doubts. All hell will break loose in a moment and you will find yourself at its epicenter.

What can I do to survive the storm on the trail?

  1. Get off the ridge / peak - standing on them you are the highest point in the area, and this is where lightning strikes most often.
  2. Find shelter. Will you make it to the shelter or shelter you've built? Then don't waste your time. Otherwise, go under a solid rock overhang (recess for at least 2.5 meters) or crouch in a hollow in the ground.
  3. Don't listen to the myths. It is not true that you should not protect yourself in the forest. You are safer there than in the open, because lightning strikes, as I have already mentioned, on the highest points in the area. Trees in dense forest usually reach a similar height, so lightning can strike any of them. The probability that it will be the tree you have taken refuge under is remote. You, on the other hand, will be relatively safe as a much lower point. It is considered dangerous to hide under tall trees growing alone.
  4. Don't lie down on the ground. This may seem like a logical move, but unfortunately it is not. By lying down on the ground, especially wet ground, you increase the contact area of your body with the electrically conductive ground. It is enough for the lightning to strike several meters away and it will also strike you.
  5. Crouch on a backpack or mat, keep your legs together and hold in this position until the storm has passed. A backpack or a tourist sleeping mat will give you minimal insulation from the electrically conductive ground, and the legs joined together will reduce the so-called step voltage. The larger the straddle position, the greater the risk of an electric charge passing over you instead of across the ground.
  6. Throw away all metal objects to a safe distance. If struck by lightning, they can increase your damage.

Remember that following these rules does not reduce the risk to 0%. In my opinion, it does not even reduce it by 50%. That is why it is so important to check the current weather forecasts before you decide to go hiking. It is also important that you take your basic equipment with you when going to the mountains, as the flashlight it contains will help you get off the ridge faster in dark conditions.

Author: Kajetan Wilczyński

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