Stay Safe During Thunderstorms
The mountains we live in, from the Wasatch Range to the Uintas and Timpanogos are among the most beautiful in the country. With countless opportunities for outdoor recreation, these ranges offer all of us the ability to wander and breathe in the wonder of nature. However, living in and around Park City and venturing into the backcountry can bring certain dangers. When in the mountains a sudden thunderstorm can pose serious danger to you and your family. Knowing what to do when lightening strikes without notice or a dark and ominous thundercloud swiftly sweeps overhead is essential to your safety.
Preparing for an upcoming storm:
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches close to your home to prevent them from falling during a storm.
- Secure objects outside the home that could blow away or cause damage.
- Shut all windows and secure outside doors.
- Unplug electrical equipment.
When a storm strikes close to home, take these precautions:
- Seek shelter immediately, whether in your home or any other building close by. If necessary seek shelter in your vehicle.
- Stay indoors until the storm passes.
- Stay away from open doors, windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks, and appliances.
- Do not use electrical devices
- Do not shower or take a bath and avoid plumbing in general.
- Do not lie of concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
- If you’re driving pull over in a safe place.
If you are outside and far from your vehicle or a safe building to seek shelter in, follow these rules to stay safe:
- Do not stand under any sort of natural lightening rod such as telephone poles, or in the backcountry, tall isolated trees.
- In the mountains and woods, seek shelter in a low-lying area under a thick growth of smaller trees.
- Before your hike ensure you have a rain jacket, headlamp, and extra food and water just in case you are stranded.
- In open areas seek a ravine or valley however always be alert for flood plains and flash floods.
- Avoid standing on a hilltop or in an open field.
- Immediately get off of open water, whether rafting, kayaking, fishing, or paddle boarding, you want to get to shore right away.
- If possible, avoid small structures in open areas.
- Never lie flat on the ground.
- Do not use a cliff or rock hangover for shelter.
- Get away from anything metal, including bicycles.
- If you feel an electrical charge (your hair stands on end or your skin tingles), squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet, place your hands over your ears and place your head between your knees.
Following these basic rules to prepare for a storm around the home and in the outdoors will ensure you are as safe as possible in a severe storm. Know the rules before you head out in the wilderness and practice with your family when you can. As always, enjoy the Utah backcountry and be safe.