BoatUS’ Seaworthy Magazine recently came out with a list of ways to prepare for summer lightning storms. Summer thunderstorms prove to be extremely dangerous for boaters due not only to wind and waves, but lightning strikes as well. In response to the abundance of tornados the south has seen in the past few months, here is a list of the top 10 ways to prepare yourself for summer lightning storms:
1. Don’t wait until it’s too late: get off the water and to a safe harbor early.
2. Inside is best: If you can’t get to a safe shore quick enough, take cover inside any cabin on board.
3. Keep away from metal: If there is no cabin to seek shelter in, be sure to stay away from all metal objects including masts, chainplates, metal railings, wheels, and refrigerators.
4. Don’t be a lightning rod: While in an open boat, stay low and in the center and take off all jewelry. This will decrease your chances of being struck by lightning.
5. Stay out of the water: Don’t fish during a storm or touch the water.
6. Disconnect the power and the antenna leads to your electronics: Your equipment could be damaged if struck by lightning, so it’s best if you unplug any and all electronics.
7. Lower antenna: Unless they are a form of a lightning protection system.
8. Stay silent: The VHF is to be used only for emergencies.
9. Lightning grounding protection systems: Make sure grounding systems are clear of corrosion. They provide lightning with a way to enter and exit the boat safely.
10. Dissipater dilemma: BoatUS insurance claims files show that boats with “brush-like” dissipaters mounted at the top of the mast have been struck by lightning.
These tips will help keep you from getting hit, but if you do find yourself in that unfortunate circumstance: 1) check people first, 2) check the bilge for ruptures, 3) check electronics and compass, and 4) consider a short haul, to check the bottom thoroughly.
How do you prepare for lightning storms? We’d like to hear from you!