Hammocks and Lightning
OK I know that this might be a bad Question to ask but::confused:
After seeing one of shugs vids and how nervous he looked in it only got me to thinking more about hammocking and Lightning.
During a rain storm where there is lightning striking around you, while you are in a hammock are you more likely to get hit by a strike then being on the ground in a tent.
What is the likely hood that you could survive a strike in a hammock if one of the trees that you are hanging from gets hit?
Here are my thoughts so please correct me on them. This is something that shug never talked about in his vids and maybe because he didn't want to scare people away if my thoughts are correct:scared:
1) My normal senses are telling me that Shug was very nervous about the possibility of getting hit up on that ridge. I doubt it was so much about being in a hammock but because of there location on the ridge.
2) Its a 50/50 shot of getting hit being in a hammock or on the ground.
3) I doubt that one could survive a lightning strike if there hammock is attached to the tree that is being hit
Im new to hammocking so please excuse my couriosity on this subject. I will not stop hammocking what ever the answers but make me more aware of some dangers.
heh heh. yep. Talked to my seven year old yesterday about the odds of getting struck. told him to buy a lottery ticket if it happened! We also had a good laugh when I told him it would blow his toes off!:D
Originally Posted by genegene
Question I've wondered about also. Those with more experience will be able to provide better information.
My initial thoughts were this:
1 - electricity follows the path of least resistance. Why would it travel down the entire tree and then divert into the hammock suspension.
2 - I usually hike where there are hundreds of trees. What are the odds that lightning will strike one of the two that I'm hanging from?
3 - Lightning should be attracted to the tree with the highest elevation. Don't hang from the tree that is the tallest in the area.
Google searched shows this has been discussed before:
I enjoy a good lightning storm. Hopefully never get zapped.
If you are sitting in your hammock when lightning strikes a tree that you a attached to, it is unlikely that any electrical current will pass through you because you are not the most direct path to ground. And unless your treehuggers, woopies and nylon hammock are all soaked, none of those are very good conductors anyway. Now, that is not to say that their wouldn't be catastrophic damage to the tree that could result in any number of things that could kill you (i.e. falling limbs, wood shrapnel, fire, etc.).
Statistically, I'd say there is less of a chance of being struck if you are in a hammock vs. on the ground. But in a tent you are on a insulating pad that would make you fairly non-conductive so you are probably pretty safe there too.
But like I said above, I wouldn't be worried about the lightning it self, but the aftermath of the strike on the trees around me.
i will have to disagree about this comment. i was standing about 75' from a telephone pole that got hit by lightning and got a substantial shock and tasted my fillings for a long while. Just being around all that energy as it is let lose is enough to hurt you. i don't think there is a difference between a tent and a hammock it is just the fact that you are outside during a lightning storm that puts you in danger.
Originally Posted by thomas533
Like someone else already said, don't pick the tallest trees to hang from. And don't pick the trees at the very top of the ridgeline, they are the tallest trees!!!
Last year at BSA summer camp, we had the worst thunderstorm I'd ever been in come through. Our camp site had a covered area that we all stood under. We watched lighting hit near-by trees and several branches came down near us and in our camp site. If a monster of a lighting storm comes through where you are, hopefully you've not picked the "tall" trees because there's not much else you can do but just hunker down and wait it out. If you're not actually in your hammock, then don't plant yourself next to a tree and do put your backpack under you so you're not on the ground and stay low.
Most lightening injury/deaths come from conducted ground shock. Many well documented cases of people being hurt or killed by electricity conducted into the ground from tree hits, quite a distance from the initial tree strike. (And why you felt it when the power pole was struck).
This is one of the reasons you are instructed to Spread Out as far as possible from each other, as well as to squat down and try to stay on the balls of your feet, providing the smallest amount of direct contact to the ground. Insulation pads, like a sit pad only increase the area of contact, so you may very well be better off in just boots. I've even heard of metal screws used to fasten lug soles, conducting enough current to burn blisters through solid rock, when the strike was not even close enough to be of worry.
Ben Franklin must have been very very inebriated.
I read on a thread somewhere that when Mother Nature decides to let loose, the animals curl up and sleep until it's over. I wish it was that easy!
Lightning and tents
I was at a cub scout campout several years ago, with, oh 500 campers at a local scout camp. Before dawn on Saturday, a line of spring storms rolled through. I was up early to shower and as I emerged I ran into a friend and we chatted in the covered doorway while we waited for the storm to pass. We saw and heard a bolt of lightning strike about 200 yards away. Scared the %&*#@ out of us! It was later learned that this bolt of lightning struck inside one of the campsites, and struck a father in his tent. Investigation showed that the lightning had struck the tree, traveled through the root and with a lot of wet under the tent, came up through the floor struck him in the head. His son was not touched. But the man's memory was affected and he was taken to the hospital by around lunch when those around him figured out what had happened.
It is unlikely he was hit with the full effect of this, but he obviously got a reasonable jolt. Lightning is unpredictable. Yes we can take precautions, but there is no way to completely remove the risk, whether you are in the wilderness or in your home...