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Your Safety: Lightning when Paddling

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

The following safety protocol is an excerpt is from We Love Watersports


1. Go to shore immediately at first sound of thunder

At the first small sign of a thunderstorm due to distant thunder or lightning, your group should immediately paddle to shore. Do not wait to “see if it gets worse.” Enact the process of getting people to shore. It is best if everyone goes to the same side of the river, so you can hear each other to communicate as the storm occurs.


Leave your paddles and boat by the water’s edge and prioritize protecting participants.

Seek shelter, if available. Buildings make the best shelters. Vehicles are the second-best choice. Don’t seek shelter under a single tree. Look instead for a dense group of trees or shrubs of similar heights. Look for a natural shelter in a deep cave, against a cliff, or in a ditch.


If there is no shelter available:


2. Create distance between group members

Spread the group out over a large area with persons 100 feet apart all facing each other so everyone can see each other. You do not want to all be in the same spot-- a lightning bolt would hit the whole group.


3. Crouch

Everyone should crouch low on the balls of their feet.


You should have minimal points of contact with the ground to reduce the risk of injury from a possible lightning strike.


• If you are barefoot, put on your shoes.

· Squat as low as possible, with feet together. Cover your ears with your hands. You should have minimal points of contact with the ground. Do not sit on the ground or lay down.

• Squat on something non-conductive like extra clothes or a lifejacket.

• Assess for the potential of hypothermia and prepare by using raingear, insulating clothing & snacks.

• If the lightning continues for so long that it is not physically possible to maintain the squatting position, the next best position is kneeling with knees touching.

• Remove jewelry & other metal objects & keep away from your body as they can cause serious burns





4. When to resume paddling.

One half an hour after hearing no thunder.


5. Provide first aid

If a person is struck by lightning, it is best if only one person helps out. The danger of further lightning strikes still exists. Keep the group dispersed. The person hit is likely to suffer from shock and burns, and broken bones. The person may be unconscious. First, check for breathing. CPR resuscitation is necessary.


March 2022



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