I have a healthy respect for lightning having my house hit and having it run down and arc out to the back yard less than 10' from me inside. My $0.02 having lived through that and engineer training and HAM operator training:
1) The arc was caused by the current running down the wet chimney and jumping over to the metal gutter when at the closest point. It then jumped out to the back yard, some random point about 5' off.
2) When it did this, it arc'd under the vinyl siding, on top of the tyvek wrap. Not sure why, I assume the Tyvek was more conductive than the vinyl. It did travel down the alum channels holding the vinyl, didn't damage them, but burned the hell out of the wall sheathing.
3) Faraday cage effect saved me from any damage. Insurance company forked out about $25k to do everything from rebuild most of my chimney (concussion shock someone mentioned caused that) to replace a bunch of electronics).
4) I don't sleep well in thunderstorms now.
That said, the lightning arc'd because of metal, at a height of approx 2.5' off the ground it arc'd over to ground. The bottom of the gutter was not connected to ground, so I can only assume that this height was where the potential was to a point where it could arc. For those doing the math, this is unfortunately about hammock height.
However, it jumped there because of the better conductor, metal, instead of following the chimney down. I would think that if you were hanging, it would simply follow the tree down. I don't have any metal in my hammock save a knife, though the Clark drip rings or the metal rings on the Whoopies might be electrically attractive. I would think it would follow the tree down, though, and just ground out there. At this point hammock would help you, as I don't believe it would have enough left nor a reason to discharge back up into the hammock from the ground. The one exception I could think of would be if the second tree is a better ground than the first, in which case the best course of action is prior planning, making sure you're good with whatever deity you prefer and life insurance is paid up, etc.
Assuming you do make it through the strike, I've not seen a tree hit by lightning where something didn't come off, if not most of the tree. That would suck, I think.
Final thought. When I was up in Ely in the North Amer Bear Center, they said bears climb trees instinctively during thunder storms. They've yet to have a bear killed by lightning. I think this speaks to the statistics of it, and the fact that most people "hit" by lighting are getting a ground surge. When my house was hit, only person who got any electricity was my daughter who was sleeping with an elec blanket that was shut off, it came back through the ground system of the house by induction, which I could explain how that happened but don't want to burn up bandwidth.
in it for the naps
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Checotah, Oklahoma
Tarp: GargoyleGear Ogee
Insulation: UQ-varies w/season
Suspension: onrope buckle
The biggest problem with a hammock is bending over to kiss it goodbye requires someone of Shug's capabilities.
It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC
Are there things that hangers could do to alleviate this threat?
I've read a lot of posts debating the danger of hanging during a lightning storm but you don't see a lot of solutions discussed.
Are there ways to make the webbing less conductive to electricity? Could you have a piece with super high resistance spliced into it so that if a strike occurs, there is far less likelihood that it would "choose" to go down the hammock (as far as lightning "chooses" to do anything according to these "laws").
I also notice that nobody really talks much about the tarp during this discussion. I'd assume that the tarp is a major target if it is staked to the ground. One precaution might be to ensure that it isn't staked to the ground (if you need them staked at all) but tied to other supports located off the ground - or at the very least you would use plastic stakes (or something with high restistance).
Or maybe there is a way to design the tarp to protect the hanger underneath from lightning strikes by providing a better path that it would always choose? I'm no expert so I don't know, but our homes have safeguards built in - maybe the same principle can be used with our hammocks/tarps somehow?
That said, it will try to find the ground. If it is electrically easier, or "shorter" to go through you to get to ground, you're toast. If not, then I'd think being up off the ground would help, as I can't see it finding electrical ground at some arbitrary point in the air, from the ground. Also, the ropes on my Clark, for example, are about as nonconductive as you could get, so I don't think you'd be doing anything more as far as electrical insulation.
I have several acres of land and in the past 4 years 5 Trees have been taken out in my yard.
Example 1: Lightning hit the Poplar in my front yard which is at least 30 feet shorter than the Yellow Pine standing right beside it. The lightning traveled all the way down the inside of the trunk and blew out the side of the tree about 5 feet up from the ground and then arched out and hit the ground. At least that's what my neighbor who witnessed it said it did. The tree looked like someone had placed dynamite inside it and blew out the side of the tree.
Tree lived but had to be taken down because it was a risk to my neighbors house during high-wind storms.
Example 2: 60 Ft pine in my front yard standing next to some other larger oaks and Pines, gets hit and the lightning looks to have run down the side of the tree stripping off the bark in a sort-of spiral/zig zag pattern.
Example 3: Large Oak in side yard gets hit. Didn't see it directly but the yard lit up orange when it happened. Knocked off large branch from top of tree. Tree is dead few months later.
Example 4: Small poplar that stands next to dead oak which got hit the year before now gets hit. Sets the ground on fire but rain shows up and puts it out. At least that's what looked like happened from the evidence. Wasn't home for that one. My yard is mostly leaves and pine needles from all the trees so ground is just ripe for a fire. And they say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice...Well it gets darn close.
Example 5: Large 90ft pine further back in the woods gets hit. Died rather quickly and fell over after a year.
It seems that it doesnt matter the height of a tree or type of tree or diameter for that matter. Lightning will strike anywhere it wants to and bounce off of things and travel along the ground. The path of least resistance maybe true but that path can be twisted and jagged.
Side note: The only thing I can think of to lower the risk of shock is to redirect the path of least resistance away from you. A small gage copper wire with no insulation running down the opposite side of the tree from your suspension to the ground would give it better path away from you. The problem with this is, now you have attracted lightning to your location with the copper wire...lol Its a double edged sword. Probably your best bet would be to get 50-60ft of small awg copper wire and tie it to a stick and toss the stick over a limb of another tree 100yards away and hope that tree get hit instead of yours. Lol
Lightning has so much voltage that it can arc great distances.
Awesome Hangs Picture Thread
Latitude - DIY Info Site
DIY Utility Constrictor Ropes
DIY Adding a Ridgeline & Suspension to a Hammock
DIY Attaching a Bugnet to a Hammock
Parabola/Catenary Curve Calculator
How XTrekker Stuffs Down
Last edited by XTrekker; 07-11-2012 at 13:20..
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Central VA
Hammock: BIAS WWM w/ Knotty
Tarp: Shangri La
Insulation: Incubator 20 & Bag
Suspension: DIY Whoopies
I've been hit before, so statistically you should all come hike with me One of the big things we see in the EMS world is the entrance and exit wounds. Make sure you carry a small FA kit, I'll try and post up the small ounce weenie kit I came up with here shortly.
I got zapped while sitting in a garage on my mom's lap who was sitting on the rear bumper of her VW Rabbit. Lightning hit 5' from the garage door arced out an electrical socket into me then my mom and out her legs. She was fine but my butt got a big black welt out of it. I think I'm fine... everyone else might have a different story. Who knows what lightning does to a developing brain eh?
Side note: lightning can also be ground to cloud...
Makes one wonder with EMS and lightning....
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