The past few weeks in the Florida panhandle have yielded very intense summer thunderstorms. In some cases, we are talking thousands of strikes per hour!
An interesting question, though, was raised this past weekend to me: “what do you do if you are caught in a storm while out boating?”
I researched several articles from the weather service to private weather firms, and the prevailing safety rules are as follows
The vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. It is crucial to listen to weather information when you are boating. If thunderstorms are forecast, do not go out. If you are out on the water and skies are threatening, get back to land and find a safe building or safe vehicle.
Boats with cabins offer a safer, but not perfect, environment. Safety is increased further if the boat has a properly installed lightning protection system. If you are inside the cabin, stay away from metal and all electrical components. STAY OFF THE RADIO UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY!
If you are caught in a thunderstorm on a small boat, drop anchor and get as low as possible. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels are relatively safe. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces.