Forest Service issues lightning safety reminder

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The U.S. Forest Service is reminding Utahns to watch out for lightning, especially as summer storms roll across the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Supervisor Brian Ferebee said education is the key to staying safe and offered the following information:

Safety Tips

First and foremost, recreationists should avoid high terrain and bodies of water during high lightning activity (typically late morning to evening) and find a safe place to shelter as the storm passes through. Additional specific and important lightning safety tips are listed below.

  • Mountain & camping safety
    • If you are caught above the tree line when a storm approaches, descend quickly. Avoid isolated trees. It is better to retreat into the woodline.
    • Electric storms can also develop in the middle of the night as you sleep. To lower your odds of being struck, don't pitch your tent near the tallest trees in the vicinity.
    • Hikers should run into a forest if a shelter or car is not nearby.
    • Drop metal objects like umbrellas, fishing poles and packs with internal or external metal frames.
    • Get off bicycles, motorcycles and horses.
  • Open area safety
    • If you are caught in an open area, seek a low spot. Crouch with your feet together and head low.
    • Don't sit or lie down, because these positions provide much more contact with the ground, providing a wider path for lightning to follow. If you are with a group and the threat of lightning is high, spread out at least 15 feet apart to minimize the chance of everybody getting hit
    • Don't return to an open area too soon. People have been struck by lightning near the end of a storm, which is still a dangerous time.
  • Water safety
    • Swimmers, anglers, and boaters should get off lakes or rivers and seek shelter when storms approach.
    • Once on land, get at least 100 yards away from shore.
    • Drop any fishing rods.
    • Boaters who cannot get off the water before the storm hits should crouch low.
  • If someone is struck
    • People who have been hit by lightning carry no electric charge and can be safely tended to. Also, victims who appear dead can often be revived. If the person is not breathing, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But if a pulse is absent as well and you know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), begin CPR. Stay with the victim until help arrives.

(Courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

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