Every boater is afraid of being caught in a bad lightning storm. Lightning typically kills between 25 and 30 people per year in the US and a long history of Hollywood movies and infamous stories have rightly left us in fear of the unpredictable weather phenomenon. Obviously, with your boat containing plenty of metal and being on the water you should always try to get back on land during a storm, but there are ways to stay safe on your boat. Here’s some tips from around the web to keep you safe.
- Check the Radar
The best way to stay safe during a lightning storm is to not get caught in one. Don’t run the risk of staying out for another catch if a storm is approaching. Call it a day. There’s always tomorrow. If you don’t have a radar, check your phone or at least be especially wary of dark, anvil-shaped clouds during the afternoon. Additionally, check forecasts and be aware of weather patterns in your area. These are basic steps but they could make all the difference.
- Carry a Radio With You
Take a walkie-talkie or personal radio along with you. There are plenty of awesome cell phone apps that can send out distress signals, but since phones are prone to running out of battery or service at the worst times, grab a radio and get to know your emergency service channels.
- A Wooden Spoon
This is a weird one, but you’re not going to want to touch anything that can conduct electricity, including a metal steering wheel. Grab a wooden spoon and use it to steer in rough conditions. The wood will minimize or even completely protect you from damaging voltage.
- “When Thunder Roars, Get Indoors”
That’s the National Weather Service’s advice. It’s best to follow it. If you hear thunder. It’s time to head back.
- Protection System
If you have an enclosed boat, make sure you have a lightning protection system installed. If you have an open boat, make sure you have a portable pole and ground plate to help protect you in the worst case scenario.
- Use Your Microwave
Another weird tip is to use you microwave. No, don’t plug it in and turn it on. Put your valuable electronics in it. The microwave will protect them from any surges in electricity.
- Know What to Do During a Direct Hit
Lightning only hits .01% of boats, but it’s best to know what to do in case your boat is struck
- Check for unconscious or injured people first. If they are conscious, moving and breathing, odds are they’ll be okay. If they aren’t breathing or don’t have a pulse, immediately begin CPR.
- Check for boat damage. If the hit blew out any part of the boat or even put a hole in it get to work fixing it. Get the bilge pump work and start bailing water if you need to. If your electronics get fried, break out the flair gun and radio.
For more tips check out this article by Boating Magazine.