JUNE 10, 2015

Lightning safety on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

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SPRINGERVILLE – The State of Arizona ranks high in lightning related fatalities each summer (especially in the months of June, July and August).  Monsoon season is not quite here yet, however, the National Weather Service’s forecast for this week is calling for thunderstorms throughout the week in the White Mountain area. Where you hear thunder lightning follows.

Here are few tips we hope will prepare you for any situation while visiting any national forests. Always check the weather before you leave home. Stay up to date with a portable radio, the Internet, or a smart phone on weather conditions. Here is a link to help you set your phone for weather and other emergency alerts: http://www.weather.com/safety/thunderstorms/video/cell-phone-can-warn-of-severe-weather.

Ask locals if you are not familiar with the weather patterns in the area. Plan your activities in the morning – thunderstorms are more likely to develop in the afternoon in mountainous areas. Below are a few things to do and don’t do to keep you knowledgeable about the dangers of lightning:

Seek shelter in a building or car if available.
Descend quickly if you are caught above tree line.
Avoid isolated trees; if possible find a stand of shorter trees.
Get off bicycles, motorcycles, horses and OHVs and stay at least 100 yards away from rivers and lakes.
Crouch with knees and feet close together to minimize ground contact.
Insulate yourself from the ground by standing on a rock, backpack, or a sleeping bag or pad.

Sit or lie down.
Return to an open area too soon. Allow 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder.
Pitch your tent near the tallest trees or use it for shelter.
If someone is struck by lightning, it is safe to attend to him or her; they do not carry an electrical charge. Call for medical help immediately, then if known, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or begin mouth-to-mouth until help arrives.

For more information on lightning safety:
http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/safety/safety.shtml#lightning   http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/blog/2013/06/lightening-safety/