Boating Safety

Fishermen Are the Most Likely Killed By Lightning!

We just ran an article by Capt. Steve Klimek about his survival of a lightning strike while flats fishing. He was one of the lucky ones as about 10% of strikes are fatal due to cardiac arrest. Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., but all states have the potential for deadly lightning.

A study shows that fishing and boating have the most lightning related deaths of all outdoor activities. So be careful and don’t push it when storms are brewing. Possibly attributed to the fact that fishermen cannot get to shelter, but I know I have probably pushed the envelope for “one last cast”, too many times.

Read the article from NOAA and learn how to protect your families and yourself from this unpredictable killer.

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Lightning kills over 50 people in the U.S. each year and inflicts life-long debilitating injuries on hundreds more.

Florida is the “Thunderstorm Capital” of the U.S., but other parts of the country have lots of lightning too, especially in the Southeast, Midwest, and the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. However, all states have some lightning threat. Fortunately, most lightning deaths and injuries are easily avoided.

The first step in lightning safety is to plan your outdoor activities to avoid as much of the lightning threat as you can. Watch the local weather forecasts and know your local weather patterns. The forecast from your local National Weather Service office can be found at www.nws.noaa.gov.

When outside, keep and eye on the sky. If you are planning an outdoor event, bring along a NOAA Weather Radio or AM radio or Internet Weather Alert system and check it regularly. Most people are struck by lightning before or just after a storm. Why? Because they wait too long to seek shelter or go back outside to soon. So if you hear thunder roar, go indoors–immediately. Don’t go outside until 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder.

The safest place from lightning is inside a large, fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing, e.g., a typical house. But stay away from any conducting path to the outside: corded telephones, electrical appliances and plumbing. Don’t watch lightning from doorways or windows. If you can’t get to a house, a vehicle with a metal roof and metal sides is a good second choice. Roll-up the windows, lean away from the door, and don’t touch any conducting path going outside, e.g., radio, keys in the ignition, steering wheel, etc. Remember, it’s not the rubber tires insulating you from the ground that make vehicles safe, but rather the metal shell that conducts the electricity around you. Convertibles, motorcycles, cars made of fiberglass and plastic, and open shelled outdoor recreation vehicles aren’t safe.

If you can’t get to a house or vehicle, then at least avoid the most hazardous places and activities. Stay off elevated places, like mountains, buildings, high playground equipment, etc. Keep away from open areas, including sports fields and beaches. Get away from tall isolated objects like trees. Going under trees to keep dry persists in being the 2nd leading cause of lightning casualties in the U.S. Don’t do it! Stop water-related activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. Stop the activity at the first hint of lightning threat. Get off of open vehicles like cabin-less tractors, bulldozers, four-wheel recreational vehicles, etc. But remember, NO PLACE OUTSIDE IS SAFE NEAR A THUNDERSTORM. You are much safer going inside a house or car.

All lightning deaths result from cardiac arrest. If you’re with a victim, call 9-1-1 to get professional medical help then apply CPR if possible. A common myth is that lightning victims are electrified and dangerous to approach. False! About 90% of lightning victims survive, so your first aid may save a life.

For more information on lightning safety, visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.

Lightning: What You Need to Know

  • NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)