Summer brings new hazards to Michigan, including severe storms. If you are setting off on a trail or hike that could last several hours, you could be putting yourself in danger without knowing it. Lightning strikes are relatively rare, but are still extremely dangerous. Here are some steps to take in order to protect yourself and to share with park visitors as appropriate from the American Hiking Association:
- Be aware. Check the weather before you start your hike and sign up for weather alerts.
- Early to mid-afternoon is the most common time for lightning injuries.
- If you hear thunder, you are at risk. Lighting can strike from as far as 10 miles away, even if the sky is blue.
- Seek shelter. A structure that has electricity and plumbing offer the best protection. Open, covered areas and shelters offer very little protection. A solid roof vehicle (no convertibles) will also provide protection.
- If you are caught in the wilderness, seek a valley or depression in the land. Avoid trees and other tall objects. If you have a backpack with a metal frame or metal hiking poles, make sure you are at least 100 feet away from them. If you are with others, make sure that you are also 100 feet apart.
- Safety position. Crouch down on the balls of your feet. Keep your feet together and your head tucked in towards your chest. Cover your ears with your hands. Never lie down.
- You are still in danger until about 30 minutes after the last thunder clap that you hear.