How to stay safe during close encounters

The rule of thumb when it comes to thunderstorms is to immediately get indoors if there’s less than 30 seconds between the lightning flash and the thunderclap. Why? For every second, the lightning strike is roughly 300 metres away. At a count of 30 seconds, then, the lightning is a mere 10 kilometres away—putting you well within the lethal strike zone.

But what if you’re out fishing or hunting and can’t get indoors? Environment Canada advises the following:

  • If you’re out in a boat, land as quickly as possible and find shelter.

  • Make sure you’re not the tallest object around.

  • Avoid trees, hilltops and other tall structures and head for low-lying areas, such as valleys, ditches and other depressions; beware of flash flooding.

  • If you’re in a forest, find shelter under thick cover in a low-lying area.

  • Avoid anything that can conduct electricity, from fishing poles to metal fences to ATVs to puddles.

  • If your car or truck is nearby, get inside it for shelter; don’t park under trees or other tall objects that could topple over.

  • If you’re out in the open and your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Immediately get on your knees, keep your feet together, place your hands on your knees and bend forward. Do not lie flat.

  • If you’re out in the open with a group of people, stay several yards apart from each other.