Camping and Electrical Storms (Lightning!)

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:02
ThreadID: 67238 Views:3237 Replies:4 FollowUps:6
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OK, so we all know to be careful about camping around trees (esp. gums) because they may drop limbs on you in the middle of the night. We also know that next to a tree (again, esp. a gum) is not the best place to be in a lightning storm.

My question relates more specifically to when there's not all that many trees about and you're in a camper trailer. When lightning comes a-calling in the outback - you know, flat-as, nothing around you for miles - where is the safest place to be? In your tent, in the car?

Thanks guys :)
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Reply By: get outmore - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:06

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:06
your car - you are very safe.

i was caught in a massive 4 hour thunderstorm near plumridge lakes in the GVD a few years back. Everytime i thought the thunderstorms had passed and i could hear the thunder moving off a new set would move overhead.

yea i got a bit scared pulled down the HF ariel and sheltered in the 4by

Didnt get much sleep that night
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Follow Up By: cityslicker - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:20

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:20
The car sounds like the best bet in those situations. From what I can tell it acts like a Faraday's Cage -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark G Gulmarrad - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:25

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:25
cityslicker

the faraday cage shown here.

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Follow Up By: cityslicker - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 12:52

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 12:52
Great video, thanks for posting. Sure makes my job look pretty boring :-)
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Follow Up By: Ozboc - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 17:49

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 17:49
Fwaar - it does look like a cool job - but i bet it has its disadvantages :)

Boc
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Reply By: Member - Matt H (SA) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:22

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:22
Sheepie,

Funny you should mention it - I was reading an interesting study not long ago that posed the very question to which you refer.

Given the situation you describe, it appears the best place to be is in your car, followed by your camper, and least of all standing outside.

Apparently, if you're in the car and lightning strikes, the car's body will effectively earth the charge - and since you're inside on a nice padded seat surrounded by (these days) by plastic trim, you should be fine.

Similar deal in the tent.

However, if you're on your lonesome outside, you'll become the conductor (albeit, not a great one) if the lightning decides to strike.

In 2005 I had a lightning strike only about 15 metres from my shed at home. I was inside the shed at the time, and was ok, but it was the most eerie feeling I have felt in 43 years. The air around me was cracking - and my ears felt like they were ringing. That was close enough for me, and I headed inside for a stiff drink and into bed. Will never forget it.

I'm not about to test the theory again, but being inside anything beats being outside, and that makes sense to me.

Cheers, Matt

AnswerID: 356463

Reply By: Kim and Damn Dog - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:42

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:42
Gidday

I’d be more concerned about a stampeding Wombat breaking your shins than a lighting strike.

LOL

Regards

Kim
AnswerID: 356465

Follow Up By: get outmore - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 23:17

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 23:17
Yes i hear where your coming from but in certan situations your chance of a strike is massivly elevated.
like in the situation i spoke of where in flat tearrain I had the only high point of metal for many kilometres.

another dicey situation i had was a thunderstorm while walking accross a saltlake
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Reply By: Mandrake - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 09:28

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 09:28
I suppose a spare tentpole - stuck "IN" the ground several metres from campsite in the open might also help ... act as a lightning conductor ?

Hmmmm - sounds a bit dodgey doesnt it !!

Cheers

Mandrake
AnswerID: 356532

Follow Up By: Rolly - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 13:05

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 13:05
One of the bush survival courses that I've attended recommended that if you are caught in open country when a thunderstorm is approaching, then the erection of some kind of lightening conductor a short distance away from yourself, might indeed provide some protection.
Lying flat on the ground also helps.

Wetting the ground round the base of the pole might increase the probability that it would attract possible strikes.

I've never had the need to actually try this out, thankfully.
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