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Rocky Mountain Region

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Lightning

Sudden, unexpected mountain storms are common throughout the year. Be aware of the possibility of thunderstorms during the summer, and snow in late spring or early fall. Steam flows will be high and swift following rainstorms and during the snowmelt runoff in early summer. Stream crossings can be hazardous. Check with a local ranger station for current conditions. Check current weather conditions at the National Weather Service.

Lighting Safety:

During a lightning storm, seek shelter in a building immediately!

If unable to find shelter in a building, follow these guidelines:

Outdoors:

Get in a hard-topped vehicle.
Avoid open areas such as meadows, ridges, and mountain tops - any area higher than the surrounding landscape.
Stay away from isolated trees, and avoid standing near tall objects.
Get away from bodies of water immediately!
Stay away from metal objects including fences and machinery.
Turn off all radio and telephone equipment.
Spread out - don't stand around in a group of people.
In all cases, drop hand tools and remove metal frame backpacks and metal tent poles, as lightning is attracted to them.
If you feel a tingling sensation or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Immediately crouch down and cover your ears. Do not lie down or place your hands on the ground.
Electric storms can also develop in the middle of the night. Don't pitch your tent near the tallest trees in the vicinity.

Indoors:

Stand clear of windows, doors and electrical appliances.
Unplug appliances well before a storm nears - never during.
Avoid contact with piping including sinks, baths and faucets.
Do not use the telephone except for emergencies.

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.

Remember: This information is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have a health-related concern, consult a physician. Also, the tips discussed here may lower injury risk, but the unpredictability of lightning affords no guarantees.

 

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