Being caught in a storm is the last thing you would wish for yourself and even your family and friends, especially hiking or in the wilderness. But sometimes, it comes without notice, thus unavoidable. It is highly recommended to always check for the signs and weather changes to see if a storm is coming or not. However, this information sometimes is unreliable. When caught up in the rain, you need to check first about your safety before anything else.
Tips to consider for safety:
1. Keep Eyes On The Weather
You have checked on the predictions, and everything seems okay for the trip. That does not mean you should not notice any slight changes as sometimes; weather changes are abrupt and don’t come as predicted. Be checking the weather updates on an hourly basis from your smartphone weather app or using common sense. If you notice dark clouds gathering, strong winds, drops of rain, or other stormy signs, seek shelter as fast as possible. Never wait to be caught in the disaster. During summer, storms always occur late in the afternoon, plan for your hiking early in the morning, and get back to the house or camp at midday. Tornadoes are often dangerous and sometimes become fatal if accompanied by lighting, which is the leading killer in areas with rampant strikes.
2. Head To The Camp
If you are on the field, oceanside, or in the mountains, any signs of a storm should direct you back to the nearest shelter or camp. A right shade will shield you from the rain and the effects of it, including lighting. A good hiking tent should be able to protect you from all these. It should protect you in the dry season, wet seasons, and even in storms. Make sure you get one, especially when backpacking in distances away from residential areas and hotels. There are other factors to consider while checking for a good shelter or tent. Failure to have a shelter or a good hiking tent may render your fun useless, and it may make you suffer from adverse weather effects such as storms. There are other areas in which you should not seek shelter. These include under the trees, mountain peaks, caves, and exposed ridgeline. In case of flooding, stay out of the tent.
3. What Happens When There Is No Shelter?
Sometimes, the unfortunate happens when it was least expected. You have gone backpacking with no signs of storms or weather changes. No shelters around, no caves, or any tents whatsoever! What happens? Well, in this case, try to make yourself and the group as safe as possible. Avoid standalone trees and tall structures such as poles. Get into the grass or in an area with low tree cover. Get everyone at least 50meters apart and sit down, but not on the ground with hands covering your ears. Ensure everyone is safe and accounted for. Seek help immediately the storm gets over.
4. Beware Of Metals
Do not get into contact with metals when seeking shelter, especially in a storm with lightning. If your backpacks have a metallic casing, remove them and keep them in a safe place. Remove metallic jewelry, belts, and observe safety precautions in case of lighting. Keep them at least a 100metres away from you. One more thing to note, avoid braziers with metal casing or trousers with metallic zips when going hiking. These metallic parts can be hazardous when you get into a storm accompanied by lighting, as the consequences can be fatal. Minimize the kind of metal in your backpack, and you will be safe in case of a sudden storm.
5. Spread Out
If you are backpacking as a team and a storm suddenly hits, spread out. Do not cuddle as a group. People should stay at least 50 meters apart and know the whereabouts of everyone. Ensure everyone has taken a safe position and is accountable just in case of anything, with this, you can save one another in case of a severe storm, and if someone gets injured, it would be easier to help them. After the storm passes, gather your people and check if everyone is present and okay. Seek help as fast as possible if anyone is injured or missing from the group.
You can stay safe in such a crisis by avoiding open crossing areas, being away from water sources, especially rivers, performing first aid for injured individuals, and calling 911 for help. The above points are not a guarantee that you will be 100% safe from storms. Try as much to be safe and always avoid going out if storm signs are visible.