The chances of a boat being struck by lightning aren't very high. BoatUS says that there is around a 1 in 1,000 chance of this happening in the United States, which is based on the boat insurance claims that have been sent to it. However, it is important to note that there are factors that can have a huge impact on the chances of a boat being struck by lightning. To name an example, Oregon can claim the distinction of being the least lightning-prone state. In contrast, Florida can claim the distinction of being the most lightning-prone state. As such, even if people think that they are safe, they should still spare some thought for the potential of their boat being struck by lightning.
What Happens When a Boat Is Struck By Lightning?
Lightning is something that should be avoided as much as possible. This is true on the land. Similarly, this is true on the water. Yes, people can lightning-proof their boat through various means. However, they should remember that lightning-proofing is meant to reduce the damage done to the boat rather than prevent the damage done to the boat altogether. For that matter, just because a boat is lightning-proof, that doesn't mean that boat's contents are lightning-proof as well. Something that isn't helped by how unpredictable lightning can be. If people are either unlucky, unprepared, or a bit of both, it is very much possible for them to suffer serious injuries or worse. Of course, if they haven't lightning-proofed their boat, they can expect more severe consequences from a lightning strike than if they have. Having said that, it should be mentioned that a lightning strike's passage through the boat isn't guaranteed to be extremely noticeable. Sometimes, people don't realize that their boat has been struck by lightning until they come upon electronics that have been either destroyed or disrupted in some manner. As such, if they realize that their boat has been struck by lightning, they should send it in for an inspection so that they can sure of its condition. If lightning doesn't have a clear way out of a boat, it can make its own by blowing a hole in the hull. Suffice to say that finding this out from a technician will be much better than finding this out while surrounded by water.
What Should You Do About This?
Under ideal circumstances, people won't be out on the water when a thunderstorm starts up. Unfortunately, this is much easier in some states than in others. For instance, Florida average more than 70 thunderstorm days on an average basis, with some parts of the state averaging more than that. As a result, while people should do their best to avoid thunderstorms, they should also be prepared for a thunderstorm in case they are caught by surprise. This is particularly important because their expectations are by no means guaranteed to prove true. In fact, people are often recommended to learn how to read the weather on their own because smaller, more localized thunderstorms might not be reported on. There are books that can help out with this. Furthermore, there are courses that interested individuals can take as well. In any case, if people have the chance, they should either move out of the way or move towards shelter. Being struck by lightning is always bad, so if possible, they should take whatever step is needed to eliminate the possibility of that happening. If that isn't possible, people should do their best to minimize the damage done in the event of a lightning strike. That means finding a place that is sheltered from the wind before dropping anchor if possible.
People should head inside if the boat has an enclosed cabin because that will be safer than staying outside exposed to the elements. Be warned that people shouldn't assume that said location will be 100 percent safe. Instead, they should stay away from anything metal as well as anything electrical. Furthermore, they should put on their lifejackets just in case. Antennas, towers, outriggers, fishing rods, and the like should be lowered unless they are a part of a lightning-proof system meant to protect the boat. Similarly, some people will choose to disconnect the connections leading to their electronics as well. Avoid touching two metal objects because that could very well prove to be fatal. Apparently, some people will choose to wear rubber gloves when steering while others will use one hand to hold a wooden spoon by which to interact with the steering wheel and keep the other hand in their pockets. Open boats are much more dangerous because people will be exposed to the elements. Still, they can drop anchor. After which, people can remove any metal that they are wearing, put on their lifejacket, and then lower themselves in the center of the boat because they don't want to be the tallest thing around in the middle of a thunderstorm.
Fishing rods and the like should be stowed as well. Be warned that it is best to wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunderclap before resuming previous activities. Just because a thunderstorm seems like it is over, that doesn't necessarily mean that the thunderstorm is actually over. As a result, there are a lot of stories about people who are struck by lightning because they assumed that the danger had passed too soon. When it comes to lightning strikes, it is definitely better for people to err on the side of caution because the potential consequences of carelessness are so serious. Checking for injuries is important after a thunderstorm. The electricity won't stay in the human body but will instead pass through. As a result, it isn't possible for people to get shocked by touching someone who has been struck by lightning. This is quite different from someone who is being electrocuted because they are touching an electrical source. In that case, they are touching an electrical source, meaning that there is still electricity running through them. In any case, people should also check up on their electronics and electrical devices. If their radio isn't working, there are still the flares. Some people are known to put VHF radios as well as spare engine control units in either a microwave or some other makeshift Faraday cage during a thunderstorm for the purpose of protecting them.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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