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  • Question about lightning - need your opinion

    I'm a Scoutmaster new to this forum and would like to get your opinion. We go to summer camp each year at the end of July. In South Jersey we can have several pop-up thunderstorms every day. I've taken the Weather Hazards training every 2 years now for the last 6 years. I know the training says seek shelter indoors. Here's my question. The camp does have a Dining Hall which would be the safest structure in camp during a lightning storm. Our campsite which has 2 wooden structures, a pavilion which is just posts with a wood shingled roof and a shower & bathroom facility with a wooden roof and cement slab floor. Once a thunderstorm is over the camp would it be safer to stay put under the pavilion rather than to travel a ¼ mile through an open parking lot and parade grounds to get to the Dining Hall. It's about a five minute walk and generally we don't get notified to report to Dinning Hall until the storm is already over the camp.

  • #2
    At summer camp last week......

    We had lightening every day multiple storms per day and several very severe during the night. There is no indoor shelter at our camp save the dining hall...... All of the troops in camp sheltered in place, meaning under dining flys or in their tents. We even sat out some quarter to half dollar sized hail.....it was kinda cool watching it bounce off of the top of the tarp and tents.

    I would follow what ever the CD tells you to do.....If your worried about it.....Ask him very specific questions.

    Comment


    • Basementdweller
      Basementdweller commented
      Editing a comment
      Had we ran to the dining hall every time we heard a bit of thunder we would have had zero program.......As is the boys didn't finish their swimming merit badge.

      This is the same camp we enjoyed the tornado at last year.

  • #3
    If it were me and were in that situation I would split the group between the 2 shelters you mentioned especially if there is some distance between them. Reason being if one were struck and there injuries then the other group would be able to get help and treat injuries.

    From what I heard of the recent incident they were under rainflys with metal in the poles and were set up next to each other

    Comment


    • #4
      I'd go with the wooden pavilion.

      Lightening is just an electrical charge seeking the earth. Metal poles and sap filled trees provide a convenient channel for current to move through.

      In a wind storm, I'd go with the concrete block BR facility to provide shelter from falling trees; but lightening is attracted to those water filled pipes...

      Comment


      • #5
        Follow the directions of the camp staff.

        Comment


        • #6
          That sounds like a question best asked at the Scoutmasters meeting the first day of camp.

          Comment


          • #7
            The camp in question should be the best source for their emergency procedure and a discussion about what kind of warnings are available. If a safe structure is a 5 min walk away and you can get a decent approach warning then that 5 min. walk would be a good idea. I would suggest that your cars may actually be the alternative not considered for lightning if you walk thru a parking lot to get to the structure.

            You should also review the material in the GTSS: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/...S/gss03.aspx#g Links to NOAA can be found there. Note that there are several techniques to minimize but not eliminate the risk included.


            Finally, if you have cell service most of the major carriers have activiated emergency alerts, your phone can now be a source of info / warnings. You may have to make sure your carrier has pushed upgrades, for example: AT&T just added the capability to the iPhones within the last month or so.

            Comment


            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              iphone just now can do it......... really my android device has had that ability for a couple of years now....

            • blw2
              blw2 commented
              Editing a comment
              Rat trail, but
              there has been at least one iphone app that would do it for several years...... not that it matters. Admittedly it was a bit buggy though.
              Still, this is one of the areas where android is really outshining the iphone. They are gonna have to step up their game soon for sure.

          • #8
            Really.....if you hear thunder go indoors......Stay away from water??????? really the camp was a mud hole from all of the rain all week....the only ground surface without standing water was the service road.

            We would have sat in the dining hall for the entire week.......

            Don't know what to tell ya........The Cd didn't call us in once all week. even during the hail storm.

            Comment


            • #9
              This is the camp policy they publish in their leaders guide.

              LIGHTNING OR SEVERE STORM
              The Aquatics Area, COPE Area, and fishing docks close immediately. Scouts remain in their program area or
              campsite unless otherwise instructed by the camp staff. Further instructions will be sent out from the Camp
              Administration

              My real problem is we never get told to move to the Dining Hall until after the storm is over top of the camp, and it's usually after dark. Then my dilemma is to heard 25 people across an open space to get them to the safety of the Dining Hall. In the past I have refused and gotten all my scouts out of their bunks and under our own camp sites Pavilion. This does not endear me to the camp staff, who by the way are all just college kids including the camp director (also, they are all of the opinion that all Scoutmasters are idiots). With all the reports of injuries from lightning strikes lately I seem to be second guessing my own decisions. I don't want to see anyone get hurt sitting under a Pavilion or crossing an open parking lot trying to get to safety.

              Comment


              • JoeBob
                JoeBob commented
                Editing a comment
                "they are all of the opinion that all Scoutmasters are idiots"
                Did we go the same camp?

                We had the same Written Camp policy, which is CYA boilerplate. No phone service at all so we were to shelter in place and 'wait for a runner from admin'. All cars were beyond a mile distant. The dining hall was down a slippery clay slope, over a foot bridge, through a soggy wet parade field. All of which were more dangerous to navigate in a rain storm than sheltering under a dry wooden pavilion. (No hurricane ties on the roof, but it was solid dry timber.)

                This idiot scoutmaster and my ASM evaluated our options and made our own emergency plan as soon as we realized that the camp staff really didn't have a viable plan.
                Camp staff wouldn't be the ones telling parents that their kids were hurt.

              • boomerscout
                boomerscout commented
                Editing a comment
                Pavilions don't have sides to block the lightning from spreading/entering. They are also not grounded to divert the lightning. Caves aren't safe either unless at least 500 feet deep. Many times, pavilions are the tallest structure in a field. Yeah, some days you just can't win no matter what you do

              • JoeBob
                JoeBob commented
                Editing a comment
                More Details: Pavilion on the side of a mountain surrounded by tall live trees. Other than a shower house full of water-filled pipes, there is no enclosed shelter short of the dining hall 3/4 of a mile away through obstacles listed above.
                Sometimes you just have to understand the physics of electricity and do the best you can. Do NOT count on camp staff, following the generic instructions from national, to evaluate your situation and babysit your boys.

            • #10
              Pavilions are not safe per both NOAA and U.S. Lifesaving Association. Safest is get into a car or run to dining hall. Restrooms would seem to be safe, but are generally wet -- therefore conductive - with lots of exposed metal. I googled "open sided pavilion safe in thunderstorm"

              Comment


              • #11
                Dinning hall was a pavilion. Instructions were stay were you were and wait it out. I know climbers coil their rope and sit on it.

                Comment


                • King Ding Dong
                  King Ding Dong commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I think your best bet is to climb to the top of the climbing tower and scream "Bring it On !" the whole storm. As long a you make it the rest of the camp will never look at you the same way again. A good half of them will follow you anywhere and the other half will stay very far away from you.

                • blw2
                  blw2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  hey, a win win!
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