National Geographic says that “The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.”
Surprising right? But your lack of knowledge can indeed change this probability to 100%. There are some common mistakes you should avoid to save your life from the thunder.
The straight answer to Do Tents Attract Lightning would be NO but sometimes yes. Tents cannot alone attract lightning, but it does not mean you are safe under a tent. Although tents do not attract thunder, it can surely get struck by a clap of thunder.
Wonder why? Lightning tends to find the quickest way possible to get into the ground. The amount of charge a thunder contains is not possible to be attracted by a tent but if thunder falls anywhere near your tent then it might jump on your tent as well.
So, if you are stuck in your tent during a thunderstorm then you are in as much danger as you would have been in an open field.
Whether or not your tent can get struck by thunder will depend on which campsite you choose, what kind of poles your tent has, whether or not your tent is the tallest thing in the surrounding.
Lightning strikes the tallest object around? Or is it a myth?
Let’s see what www.iii.org has to say:
Here is what NSSL(The national severe storms library) has to say:
We cannot say much about the safety of tents during a thunderstorm. Tents do not work like cars by directing the charge to the ground quickly by passing it through the surface. If you consider camping with an RV, trailer, or camper then you 100% safe from the thunder.
Tents do have a cage-like structure but it does not have a metal body. If thunder strikes your tent it will unevenly discharge the electricity in the ground or to the nearest conductor. Make sure the nearest conductor is not you.
Have you wondered how it would feel like getting struck by thunder? Let’s hear it from a thunderstorm victim-survivors:
“You don’t feel the burns until it’s over with. It cooks you from the inside out like being in a microwave. And you’ve got a hurting in your bones.” Roberts made headlines in 2011 when he was struck by lightning for the sixth time, and his wife says he’s been struck four more times since then.” (view source)
“A jolting, excruciating pain. “My whole body was just stopped—I couldn’t move anymore,” Justin recalls. “The pain was … I can’t explain the pain except to say if you’ve ever put your finger in a light socket as a kid, multiply that feeling by a gazillion throughout your entire body.”(view source)
Poles Of Tents Can Attract Lightning?
The answer to this would be not specifically. The material of the poles will decide the answer to this.
Nowadays tents come with plastic or fiber poles, which are not a conductor of electricity, and hence are unable to attract the lighting towards them.
If you are using the old aluminum or metal poles for your tents then it might act as a conductor. Even the metal poles can not attract the lighting as such because they are unable to attract the amount of charge present in the thunder.
The metal poles will increase your chances to get struck by lightning if thunder falls anywhere near your tent.
If you plan to set camp in an open field where your tent is the tallest ground, the chances to get stroked by thunder increases 10 folds.
If you are planning to go camping during a thunderstorm are you experience a thunderstorm during your camping trip make sure that your tent is not on the highest ground in your surrounding.
Another common mistake that could lead to danger is insulating the ends of your tent poles. Insulation will stop the electricity from entering the ground and it will find its way through the nearest conductor possible.
If you are present inside your 10th during a thunderstorm that nearest conductor could be you.
Hiding under your tent is not the best option to be safe during a thunderstorm. It might be the worst option to hide as well.
REMEMBER: Avoid using Bell tents specifically because the center rod may act as a lightning stick.
FUN FACT- There is a 30/30 rule you should follow if you suddenly see a bolt of lightning and you want to check if it’s a thunderstorm. Go inside if you can’t count to 30 between you see lightning and hear thunder. Stay inside or at a safe shelter.
Is There Something Like Thunder Proof Tents?
Fortunately, Kama Jania’s love for mountain outings and fear of thunders has now lead to the innovation of lightning proof bolt tents. She designed three models of these tents.
Jania designed three “Bolt” tents — the Bolt “half,” Bolt “one,” and Bolt “air.” All three styles were tested in lightning storms and all of them protected the users against both direct and ground strikes.
Ground strikes can occur when lightning hits the ground and flow through the ground and then through the foot of someone walking outside. Click here to know more about these.
What To Do If You See A Thunderstorm?
Nature and thunderstorms are very uncertain and they cannot be predicted very accurately.
A thunderstorm occurs whenever a cloud is carrying too much negative charge and it is required to discharge it to the earth. It is just like a spark but with very great intensity me and power.
These are some safety precautionary measures of dos and don’ts during a thunderstorm and how to be safe.
- Check if your tent is the tallest thing around if it is the case then relocate as soon as possible.
- Stay away from tall trees, they are likely to get stuck very easily. The tree will either light up or power up for a bit.
- Wear boots and sit low on the ground. You don’t want to be barefoot when lightning happens, as you can get electrocuted through the ground as well.
- If you are inside your tent avoid contact with the fabric or frame of the tent or the ground.
- Crouch down as much as possible with boots on and sit on a double folded mat or a backpack. Make sure your hands don’t touch the ground by any chance.
- Do not have any contact with water, it will increase the risk. You should not shower while thunderstorm.
- Avoid going outside when it’s raining and thunderstorms at the same time. Electricity travels through the moist air much faster than dry air.
- Avoid using toilets during a thunderstorm as it can travel through the plumbing.
- Avoid setting camp under trees with dead branches. If the thunder hits the tree the dead branch is most likely to fall off on the tent. This will cause severe injuries to you or even death.
- Don’t set camp in the middle of the open ground. It is preferred to set camp in an open area but it is not the option while thunderstorms. Vacate the camp as soon as possible and run to a safe area.
- Run to your car if you have your car around, it is 100% safe to take shelter in a closed vehicle.
I hope this article cleared all your myths and conclusions about if your tents can attract lightning or not. If you should take shelter under your tents while thunderstorm.
We shared the good news of the lightning proof tents being invented. Other than this there is not much alternative to going camping with lightning proof camping gear.
You should always check the weather forecast if you want to avoid thunder at all costs. If you don’t want to cancel your camping plans due to a thunderstorm then we included all the precautionary measures you should take to be safe from the thunder.
If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to use the comment section below.
Check out our articles on our website.
Until then happy camping!