Metal item storage camping in lightning storm?
What does everyone here do with metal items, like guns, walking staffs, anything metal, while camping and a lightning storm comes up? If stored away from camp, animals may chew on it and rust may form.....is it safe to store them flat on the ground in a tent, even perhaps under an air mattress possibly? A friend of mine was camping with his wife on a ridge during a storm and lightning hit a tree nearby and the electricity deflated their air mattress, but they were ok. Thanks for the insights!
The actual electrons travel from the ground up into the sky. What you get in an electrical storm is a build up of potential between the earth (ground) and the cloud base. Essentially it is like "super static". It takes somewhere around 25-50 K volts of potential to jump 1" of dry air so lets low-ball and say 10K volts to jump 1" of humid thunderstorm air. So basically the cloud mass wants to grab those electrons from somewhere (specifically the earth) and it is building potential until finally it reaches enough to draw those electrons across the open air. For all practical purposes your rifle has zero resistance (metal) and you don't have a heck of a lot either being about 90% water! Now you stand outside and hold up that rifle above your head and lets say it is 100" total height, now you have made the overall potential required about 1 million volts less potential for the sky to pull those electrons through your body and into the atmosphere (you are now the path of least resistance!!!). Now if you lay that same rifle flat on the ground it is only about an inch high which in the grand scheme of things doesn't really relate to a great reduction in the overall potential required to pull the electrons directly from the ground and isn't likely to be a factor at all.
So another words, I wouldn't snuggle up w/ my rifle during an electrical storm but I dang sure wouldn't leave it outside somewhere! Besides w/ the rifle laying flat on the floor and your tent poles standing upright odds are they are a far bigger threat. Your friends never should have placed a tent on a ridge w/ the potential for a storm and I would bet that the air mattress was touching a tent stake or pole if it got flattened by the heat formed when the electrons coursed through it, though honestly the story sound a pretty suspect to me. I can't imagine a presumably rubber mattress being affected by lightning, especially if the giant water blob (person) on top of it wasn't affected at all...