How to Survive a Storm in the Middle of the Woods

Storm Preparation

When a lightning storm hits your area, you should crouch down and stand on your toes.
When a lightning storm hits your area, you should crouch down and stand on your toes.
Bruce Heinemann/Getty Images

If y­ou're caught in a storm while camping or hiking, finding a safe shelter may be difficult. You need to be out of the way when lightning strikes and you also need to be out of the rain as much as possible. If you're in a wooded area, squat near thick growths of trees. If a cluster of trees isn't around, look for a low-lying open place away from trees, poles or other metal objects. Avoid hilltops, open fields and locations that serve as natural lightning rods, such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area. You never want to be the tallest object in the area or be near to the tallest object in an area.

It's important to note that there's no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. But if you have no other options, there are a few precautions you can take to be as safe as possible.

It's a good idea to carry a battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio to get updates about weather developments. If you're in an area that will pick up a signal, NOAA will deliver updates to you about the progression of the storm.

If you're debating whether you should stay where you are or go through an open area in order to get shelter during a thunderstorm -- stay put. While you're crossing through the open area, you'll be the tallest object and you'll attract lightning. If the lightning hasn't yet hit your area, you may cross quickly so that you're not caught out in the open. In general, if the lightning to thunder time is less than 30 seconds, you should stay where you are.