Last weekend left three people traumatized after being struck by lightning while hiking in Banff. Being struck by lightning is one of those things we fear when we’re children but turns out to be a whole lot less of a thing than we thought. Well, perhaps those childhood fears were healthy and reasonable, after all. 

One woman was hiking on Mount Bourgeau around 1 pm on Saturday afternoon, Parks Canada told Global News. When storm clouds rolled in, she was knocked out after a lightning strike either struck her directly or struck near her.

When she regained consciousness, she had no idea where she was or what had happened, Conrad Janzen from Parks Canada explained to Global News. She called 911 and officials were able to find her using her phone’s location.

The woman was reached by helicopter, assessed, and transported to the EMS crew that awaited her at Sunshine Village. Her injuries consisted mainly of burns on many areas of her body. Sadly, she wasn’t the only one impacted by lightning strikes that day.

Two more hikers found themselves facing the same storm. “They reported that their legs were burned, their pants were actually on fire and their shoes were actually blown off by the strike,” Janzen told Global News.

In this case, the hikers were able to hike down on their own, but they made the call to officials for the safety of other hikers. The pair were located above Sentinel Pass. All three hikers were at an elevation of around 2,800 to 2,900 metres, said Jansen.

Jansen told Global News that this is extremely uncommon and something that he has never seen in his long career with Parks Canada. That said, it’s better safe than sorry.

“The first and most important thing to remember is that if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Take shelter immediately, preferably in a house or all-metal automobile (not convertible top). If caught outside far from a safe shelter, stay away from tall objects, such as trees, poles, wires and fences,” according to Environment Canada

This is scary stuff. Though it is wildly uncommon to be struck by lightning, we don’t like these odds. Stay safe out there.

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