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  1. #1
    Senior Member Holger's Avatar
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    Hammock and lightening

    Whe had a lot of massive thunderstorms here the last weeks. Twice i nearly went before I checked the weather forecast and luckily didn't go.
    The rain/ thunderstorm last week was one of the worst I've seen in years.
    Now I wonder what do you do in case of a severe thunderstorm. Beeing strung between 2 trees doesn't sound like a very smart idea to me?
    I do have to admit that although I love storms and lightning from a solid shelter,house or car, I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to walking in the forest. 15 years ago a tree about 10-12meters away from me got stuck by lightning while bushhiking. It blew me off my feet and I had ringing ears for hours. Learned the hard way how strong mother nature really is.
    So what do you do, take the hammok down and sit under the tarp?

  2. #2
    Fish<><'s Avatar
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    I too have the same viewpoint as you but have not encountered inclimate weather in a hammock yet. I was reading a thread a couple of weeks ago and some of the members say that you are probably safer in a hammock since there is no metal involved like with a tent.

    This is what my reasoning is...

    I would feel uneasy in either situation, but having been through storms in tents before I would feel more secure, just being honest.

    Question is, would I hang during a lightning storm?...answer is yes. The reasons why; it would be dry, I would feel closer to nature, and most important is the electric standpoint.

    Being an electrician, I can say electricity constantly tries to "equalize itself". It does that by reaching "ground" or "earth". Electricity is lazy and just like everything else takes the easy way out. Unless you are using metal cable to hang from the trees, your plastic type of straps or ropes (whoopies included) are natural resistors and should help in preventing electric shock.

    That being said, air is also resistant to electricity, which is why a lightning bolt will never look like a straight line decending from the heavens like a laser beam. roll the dice and make a choice...

    In summary, when out in nature there are always risks whether they are from wild animals, mother nature, or just poorly made decisions. The fact of the matter is do what you enjoy, love your life, live your life, and make your own risk decisions. Hopefully more people will pipe in and make this a great thread for others to read and learn from.

    I am not an expert on lightning I just work with electronics for a living, these are just things which I believe to be true. If I am wrong someone correct me.

  3. #3
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Heh. This actually happened to me last weekend.

    About 3:30 AM on Sunday, I was awoken by a frog-strangler of a thunderstorm. I was slung between two trees in the Hennessy, hoping that I didn't get hit by lightning. I was reasonably certain that it was unlikely to hit me, mostly because I was hanging from two trees that were lower than or roughly equal to the trees surrounding them.

    Thankfully, I was not electrocuted, and I would probably do it again.

    I was two miles from the nearest shelter, and would have had to pass through an area that had high-tension lines to reach that shelter. Escape via that route was less-than-desirable, so I just waited out the storm.

    Honestly, I was much more likely to be hit on my bicycle either on the way to the campground or the way home than I was to be hit by lightning. Yet, I still rode out there. That probably says something about my intelligence (or lack thereof)...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Holger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hangtillidie View Post
    some of the members say that you are probably safer in a hammock since there is no metal involved like with a tent.
    Shouldn't that create a faradayic cage ( however you spell that in english), at least with aly poles crossing in the middle (freestanding dome tent)?
    Anyway I think about 2 more things, a: the lines are wet and water is a good conductor, and b: the equivalent of to the "step potential" just between 2 trees, connected by a wet line, not through the ground...

  5. #5
    AaronAlso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holger View Post
    Shouldn't that create a faradayic cage ( however you spell that in english), at least with aly poles crossing in the middle (freestanding dome tent)?
    Anyway I think about 2 more things, a: the lines are wet and water is a good conductor, and b: the equivalent of to the "step potential" just between 2 trees, connected by a wet line, not through the ground...
    When you are talking about amounts of voltage in a lightening bolt it would vaporize the aluminium poles as it pasted through them. While, it may keep the bolt from passing directly through you it wouldn't keep you entirely safe by any means.

    Pure water (H2O) is a very poor conductor, it is the minerals in the water that conduct electricity.

    As has already been mentioned electricity will always follow the shortest path of least resistance to ground. The question is does the tree or your straps & lines present the least resistance to ground. I suppose it's probable that the current could flow down a guyline across the tarp and into ground via a stake. But again that's assuming path of least resistance.
    "The more laws that are written, the more criminals are produced." - "The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be." - Lao Tze

    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." -Plato

    Ephesians 6:10-17

    Hammock Forums is my social network.

  6. #6
    Detail Man's Avatar
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    In bad storms, the wind and falling trees/limbs tend to concern me more than lightning strikes. Think about how many blow downs you've seen compared to exploded trees. If you're in the woods, you take on certain risks anyway although it's probably a lot less than driving to work each day. My philoshophy on the matter is to be smart, select campsites wisely, pay attention to my surroundings, and enjoy every minute of being outside. There is only so much a person can do to minimize their risk.

  7. #7
    Dos's Avatar
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    As a kid, a neighbor of mine was climbing a tree during a storm. As luck would have it, lightning struck the tree my neighbor was on. The bolt passed from the tree top right through the kid. He ended up being dizzy as well as having a burn mark on his right hand (very black in color).
    I personally think it's the luck of the draw which tree it hits. My neighbor just happened to have been out climbing that tree that particular day at that particular time. It was pretty eerie.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bodhran4me's Avatar
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    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/09...while-camping/

    In the article the researcher speculates the lightening hit the tent due to it have metal poles or something metallic inside. The tent looks like it has fibreglass poles , albeit with metal joiners. There were trees nearby.

    One person in the tent was killed, the girlfriend was sore and had a burn mark while the baby was ok. The 'effects' were also felt by somebody in a nearby tent.

    It is just seems to be pure , dumb, bad luck.

    My completely unqualified opinion is that when dealing with the voltages involved in lightening strikes, a plastic buckle isn't going to save you. Or other rigging isn't going to save, especially if it is wet. Also if it hits a tree you are hanging from that tree is going to split or be shattered, raining down debris in addition to the massive voltage. Are you safer in a tent in an open field, where you are the highest thing around? I dunno. Maybe running a line from your suspension on each end to the ground would help? Wouldn't want to use metal in case it attracted the lightening though. Having said that, how many people walk with umbrellas in the rain? Again, i think statiscally speaking you are more likely to be killed driving to your hang or by becoming lost in the wilderness than by lightening. Small comfort to those in the news story though.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Law Dawg (ret)'s Avatar
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    When your number's up it's up. We can, and should, look up before we hook up and take every possible precaution but "No man knoweth his time". My take is the voltage involved in a lightning strike often affects people many yards away from the actual strike and so in a shelter (unless a Faraday cage), tent, or hammock...you takes your hike and you also takes your chances.
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    Mark is the name and If there is more than one way to understand what I just said....I meant the good one.

    Earth First! We'll dirt bike ride the other planets later.

  10. #10
    New Member johnnyh88's Avatar
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    The PDF below is the best information I've found on lightning safety in the backcountry. It is written by some one at NOLS and I found it posted on HikeArizona.com
    Attached Files Attached Files

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