Picture this: you’ve had a lovely day camping. You’ve just returned to home-base tired and hungry. You’ve been having so much fun, you haven’t noticed that the sapphire blue sky of that afternoon is being quickly replaced by an ominous-looking storm front. Suddenly, the severe weather sirens from a neighboring town start to blare. A minute later, a park ranger drives through your campground announcing over his vehicle’s loudspeaker that you can go to the shower/bathroom buildings to take cover. Now, he doesn’t actually say you should take cover, just that if you need to, that’s where to go. Sound scary? Yeah, it is. And it happened to us this past weekend. It was the first time we’d ever been confronted with such a situation while camping, and I don’t wish it to happen again. But if it does, I want to be more prepared. A quick search lead me to Camping Earth and these great tips to keep in mind when preparing for bad weather.
1. Invest in a weather radio. According to Camping Earth, the Midland WR-300 is a good one.
2. When checking into the park, ask the ranger where the nearest storm shelter is–probably the bathrooms, as we found out.
3. Take time to check the daily weather forecast, either on your weather radio or with the campground office.
4. Make sure everyone in your camping party knows what to do in case of an emergency. The National Weather Services even has a Preparedness Guide.
5. Keep in mind the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule. According to Camping Earth, the rule goes like this: ‘Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder (if you can hear thunder you are close enough to be struck by lightning.)’
6. If you are caught outdoors during lightning conditions, find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles. Taking shelter under a SHORT tree in a wooden area is considered safe.
7. If you are caught outdoors during a tornado, lay flat in the nearest ditch or depression and cover your head. Culverts and overpasses will provide protection too.
8. If you’re confronted with flood waters, DON’T attempt to travel through them. Turn around and head for higher ground, if possible. Flash floods are more deadly than tornadoes and lightening.
Image courtesy of fishindog.com.