What Happens if Lightning Strikes my RV?

Imagine for a second that you’re camping at a scenic spot. Maybe it’s at a lake, in the woods, or somewhere else you enjoy. The dark storm clouds start to roll in and the lightning show begins. You are awe inspired at the beauty of the lightening as it lights up the sky. Then you begin to wonder, is my family safe in our RV?

Then you begin to wonder, is my family safe in our RV?

Would the lightning be attracted to an RV because of how its built? Would it travel through the RV and strike us? Are we safe because of the rubber tires?DSC_0212_tonemapped

Some Lightning Facts:

  • Over 60% of lightning fatalities happen when people biking, boating, hiking, camping or fishing.
  • Most lightning victims are close to safe shelter but don’t head towards it.
  • Lightening kills more people each year than Tornadoes and Hurricanes combined.

DSC_0208_tonemappedLet’s start with a common question even non-RVers have, are you safe in a vehicle when hit by lightning? If you’re in a car with a metal roof, you’re safe.

It’s pretty interesting what makes you safe in a vehicle or RV from lightning. It’s something called the Faraday Cage Effect which was observed by Benjamin Franklin back in 1755 and in 1836 Michael Faraday built on this idea which ended up being named after him. In a vehicle (with the exception of a convertible) you are essentially in a big metal box and protected because of the Faraday Cage. This is where the electricity goes around the vehicle rather than inside.

What about an R? Using this same theory it depends on what your RV is built out of.  An RV, 5th Wheel, or Travel Trailer that’s built with a steel or aluminum frame would be just as safe as a vehicle in a lightning storm. Even if the RV is built out of fiberglass but the frame is aluminum you are safe. If DSC_0216_tonemappedyou’re RV is made with a wood frame you need to head to a safe zone like a vehicle. Popups and tents are dangerous places and offer no security from a lightning strike. They are also subject to branches falling on the tent with no protection.

Generally it’s a good idea to unplug your power at a campground when a big storm is coming. If lightening hits theground, even on the other side of the campground it can cause a surge of power through the line into your RV and cause things to burn out. You are safe to run your built in generator.

DSC_0217_tonemappedRemember, camping is all fun and games until someone gets struck by lightening. If you have a safe RV make sure at the first sound of thunder you head in to safety. If you can hear thunder you ARE in striking distance of lightning and it is unpredictable. Check the weather prior to heading away from safety into the outdoors. Stay safe and happy camping.

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