Prepare on the front end. Weather radios can be compact and inexpensive, and alert campers to the potential for trouble. When setting up, campers shouldn’t pitch a tent beneath a dead or diseased tree, or on top of a root ball, said Dan Shirley, co-owner of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters in Tofte, Minn. In some cases, campers may want to leave their tents. If there’s a strong wind blowing across a lake, heading for the water’s edge and upwind is a good idea because a tree is likely to topple in the wind direction.
Lightning involved? That can be a game-changer. For starters, stay away from water, which can conduct electricity. Shirley’s suggestion: Leave the tent, space yourself from your party so everyone is 10 to 15 feet apart, sit on your sleeping pad, and make yourself small, your feet close together. According to the National Weather Service, if you are stuck outside, first, make sure you aren’t on high ground or near tall trees. Heading deeper into woods can be safer, too — greater chance of lightning hitting another object. Stay low but don’t lie flat.
A general rule in a thunderstorm: If you can hear the thunder, you are in striking distance of lightning. It’s time to move to safer terrain BEFORE lightning is present. If lightning is present, stop moving and get into the low lightning position. Maybe the safest place? Get into your vehicle if it is close.