Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Protect yourself and your boat against Lightning Strikes

Lightning strikes are completely unpredictable and may happen anytime, especially with rapid and ever changing weather conditions out at sea.
Prior to your next boating adventure, make sure to stay informed and be prepared to know what to do in the event of an emergency. Check the Marine VHF radio, Internet and TV weather reports to keep yourself up to date with the latest information and forecasts regarding conditions at sea.
If there are predicted and expected thunderstorms out there, don't leave. However if you're already out there and conditions change, follow these tips and make use of this information in order to protect your life and safeguard the integrity of your boat.

Some interesting facts about lightning strikes

  • These typically occur in the afternoon; In Florida, 70% percent of lightning strikes take place between midday and 6pm.
  • Some areas in Florida may get anywhere between 70 to 100 thunderstorm days per year.
  • Thunderstorms may grow to dangerous levels in fewer than 30 minutes.
  • Regular thunderstorms may usually have a diameter of 15 miles.
  • If lightning and thunder are present, simply count the seconds between lightning and its thunderclap, and divide this amount by 5. This provides a rough estimate of how many miles away the storm is actually located.
  • It is recommended for you to wait at least 30 minutes until after the last clap of a thunderstorm, to resume your boating activities.

Follow these steps when experiencing a lightning strike
  • Seek immediate shelter inside your boat's enclosed cabin.
  • Stand clear of any sort of metal objects, including appliances and electrical outlets.
  • All people on board should be wearing life jackets.
  • Wear rubber gloves which provide insulation against metal surfaces such as metal steering wheels or your boat's hand railings.
  • Remove any kind of metal jewelry during a lightning strike.
  • Remain at the center of the boat, get down, and stay out of water.
  • Ensure no one on board is unconscious or injured; in the event someone is unconscious, proceed to provide CPR.
  • It is safe to provide assistance to someone who has just been struck by lightning, as there is no danger in getting an electric shock back from the victim.
  • Keep a microwave or a tin box on your boat, and inside it keep a VHF handheld radio as well as a GPS device; microwaves and tin boxes provide protection against lighting strikes to these items, which may save your life in the event of an emergency during or after a lightning strike.

Safeguard the integrity of your boat during and after lightning strikes with these steps
  • If your boat has outriggers, fishing rods or antennas, these must be lowered unless they're part of your boat's lightning protection system.
  • It is advisable to shut off power connections to antennas and all electronics in order to prevent damage.
  • During lightning strikes, do not use the VHF radio unless it is an emergency. However handheld VHF radio devices may be okay to use.
  • After the storm, make sure there are no holes anywhere on your boat; get all bilge pumps running.
  • In desperate situations, use the VHF to call for help. If you have no access to VHF, use your boat´s flare kit to call for assistance.
  • After the storm has passed, double check the operation of the boat's engine and all electronic equipment.
  • If your boat has gone through a lightning strike, have your boat professionally surveyed to ensure its structural integrity, complete safety and full functionality.

We certainly hope these tips are of assistance to you if you ever come across a lightning strike at sea. Be smart by keeping yourself informed and be readily prepared at all times. Although you may never experience a lightning strike while boating at sea, it's better to be prepared as the consequences of such a strike can be devastating.

To learn more about boats, boat sales, repairs, services & accessories, please contact Whiticar Boat Works, located at: 3636 SE Old St. Lucie Blvd, Stuart, Florida, 34996. Give us a call at: (772) 287-2883 or email us anytime at: