continued If you are outdoors, you've already increased the risk of being struck by lightning. Highest risk categories include golfers, mountain climbers, boaters and increasingly, flyfishermen. There is only one word for a person who continues to stand in a stream or on an open fairway waving a highly conductive shaft while the sky is dark and thundering. The word is dumb!
What should you do if the weather turns to thunder and rain? At the first hint of thunder travelers should get off the water, out of the stream or leave the golf course.
Hikers should avoid the mountain summits, the crests of ridges, of slopes above timberline and large clearings. These are extremely dangerous places to be during lightning storms.
If you are caught in such an exposed place, quickly descend to a lower elevation, away from the direction of the approaching storm. Whenever lightning is near, take off backpacks with either external or internal metal frames, toss the golf bag and drop the graphite rods.
In all cases, squat down or kneel down on a pad, life jacket or waders keeping your head low and body out of contact with the ground. A dense forest located in a depression provides the best protection.
Avoid taking shelter under isolated trees or a tree that is much taller than the adjacent forest. Seek out hardwood trees if possible, since softwoods are more prone to strikes due to the high moisture content.
Remember, lightning strikes the tallest object. Stay as low as possible. If caught in the open, seek a depression in the earth, a ditch or hole.
Be proactive in your travels and learn to recognize approaching thunderstorms and adjust your activities accordingly. Since most mountain thunderstorms tend to form in the early to mid-afternoon, it's generally advised that you begin hiking the higher peaks in the early morning. This will allow you to be on the way down from the summits when the threat from thunderstorms is at its highest.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.