Florida is the lightning capital of the country, with over 2,000 lightning strikes in the past 50 years, according to the CDC. Florida also averages seven deaths per year due to lightning. During the summer in the Sarasota area, we can expect afternoon thunderstorms, luckily they usually come and go pretty quickly. But, it’s important to stay safe paddling in a thunderstorm. Here are our tips.
Check the weather before you go kayaking
It’s important to check the weather, although it can change quickly, check it first. You don’t want to go out and find yourself surprised by too much wind, or a storm that you just didn’t know about.
If you are out and a thunderstorm is approaching, or has already started, go ashore if possible. Take notice of the first sound of thunder, or sight of lightning and get ashore. Water is a conductor of electricity, so you don’t want to stay in your kayak.
If it’s possible to get ashore, go inside your car or a building. If not, remember your kayak is the tallest thing on the water. Shrink down and cover your ears with your hands and make yourself as small as possible. Don’t hide under mangroves or a big tree, those are more likely to get struck.
If you’re with a kayak group, or a group of friends, separate yourselves from each other. Keep the kayaks several yards apart. This way you’re not likely to all be hit, but if one were struck, you’re close enough to render aid.
Call for help
Call for help immediately, and know your exact location if someone is struck.
Provide First Aid
If someone is struck, provide first aid if necessary. If the storm isn’t over, don’t paddle to shore with the metal paddles, wait for help.
It’s important to be prepared for any kayak trip. Whether you’re on a kayak fishing trip, or just a leisure kayak trip. Thunderstorms can happen at any time in the Sarasota area. We want you to have fun and be safe out on the water!