Last week James (my husband) and I went for an evening run. It was drizzing when we started out and it didn’t look like it would clear. However, it didn’t look like “thunderstorm sky”, either. How quickly things can change! By the time we finished one and a half miles, the skies had opened up and we were totally soaked. At that point, we didn’t really hesitate or consider turning back (we were only going four…out for two and then back). Besides, we were already drenched…and it was kind of fun. When we got to the two mile mark where we turned around, the thunder was rolling pretty loudly and the sky started to flash with lightning. Still, it wasn’t very near, and I didn’t feel like we were in any danger. Infact, it felt great to finally have a cool (although soaking) run. But soon, the thunder became louder, the lightning seemed to be striking simultaneously, and there was really no where to go for cover (except to knock on someones door). So we ran faster! James was trying to calm me down by making jokes about bad weather, which weren’t really funny. I can always rely on him to keep things humorous, and I needed the distraction…by now I was getting pretty scared! There were puddles all over (basically we were running in a giant puddle) and all I could think about was that in a storm…you stay away from water! By the time we finally got home, I was totally waterlogged, my whole body was tense, and I was whispering prayers of thanksgiving!
I felt a little silly, frankly, for being so scared… until I googled what to do in a lightning storm…then I realized I had serious reasons to be afraid! Basically what I learned is that every year people are seriously injured, and even killed by lightning. There are about 10,000 lightning related deaths worldwide each year. The wisest thing to do is to check a weather report or radar before venturing out for a run in possible stormy weather. If there is bad weather reported nearby…skip the run outdoors. It’s just not worth it! Storms like the one James and I found ourselves in come on very quickly and sometimes there is no time to get to shelter. There are times when we find ourselves on a run, and the storm seems to come out of nowhere…what then?
If you do find yourself stuck out in a storm, the Association of National Park Rangers advises a few things with respect to lightning…
The 30/30 rule is important:
1. When the time between lightning and thunder is <30secs seek cover. 2. Do not go outside again until 30mins after the last thunder/lightning. Small shelters can increase a persons risk of being struck. Enclosed metal vehicles are safe because the current will pass around the occupants to the ground. 3. Believe it or not lightning can strike just before a storm and right after! (see kidslightning.info)
If you are stuck outside and cannot seek shelter…
– Stay away from metal objects that are taller than you.
– Avoid areas near powerlines and other large steel objects.
– Do not stand near tall isolated trees, hilltops or at a lookout.
– In a forest seek a low area under a growth of saplings or small trees.
– If totally in the open, stay away from single trees and squat down with your knees fully bent and feet together or sit cross-legged or kneeling on the ground.
– If lightning is striking around you, take off your jewelry and throw it aside while you crouch down.
Needless to say, that is the last time I am going to go for a run in the summer if it looks (even potentially) like a storm might be coming!
Have you ever found yourself “out in it”? What did you do?