Power boats and lightning, very very frightening…ME. This isn’t just a riff on the popular Queen lyric. Lightning strikes pose a real threat to boat owners. Whether you own a power boat, a yacht, a dinghy or a kayak, the threat of lightning is very real. Out on the water, your vessel very well may represent the highest point of contact – and that makes it a beacon for electrical storms.
According to Boating Magazine, it doesn’t take a dramatic lightning strike to wreak havoc on board. Think of all the electronics you depend on during your voyages: there’s likely a GPS, depth finder and more stocked as precious cargo. Even a strike close to the boat can result in electronic failure. Can you find your way back to the docks without that GPS? A backup is a great idea – it’s a bit old-fashioned, but we recommend a chart.
Feel ready for any lightning situation by forming an action plan long before that storm. How will you and your passengers react should lightning conditions arise? Learn how to protect your vessel and those traveling upon it. Here are lightning safety precautions you should consider.
Examine weather conditions before you set sail.
It seems a simple thing, but when the sky is blue and the weather seems perfect, it can be easy to ignore the fact that flash thunderstorms could be lurking in the distance. Take a quick look at a reputable weather radar and plan your voyage accordingly.
Evacuating the area.
Can you get to a safer place on the water? Take a look at that radar and move away from the storm.
Ground your electronics long before that first voyage.
Once you’re in the thick of a lightning threat, power down electronics. Yes, that includes the radio. It’s best to avoid a short circuit experience, so the rule should be that if lightning threatens, electronic use should cease immediately.
Watch your hands.
If you touch metal surfaces, you yourself could become a sort of conduit for electricity – definitely not the role you want to play in this scenario.
Are any antennas or fishing poles still up?
We’d like to take this moment to remind you about the story of Benjamin Franklin taking his kites out in a thunderstorm. Do not let that scenario repeat itself on your boat. Everything tall should be lowered.
If lightning strikes are already underway, retreat to the cabin if possible.
If that’s not possible, head toward the middle of the vessel.
Finally, consider creating a way for a strike to safely travel from your boat down to the water, where it will dissipate. Learn how to do this here.
Have questions regarding protection for your vessel? Contact the specialists at W3 Insurance at 727-522-7777.
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