Can lightning hit you if your in a plastic canoe?

And if it still can, and a lightning storm arrives, would it be safest to tip the canoe over, swim underneath of it and hide out until the storm passes?

Summer reruns

Don’t do it
If you are on the water when there’s lightning, you are always at risk. I used to surf all the time when I still lived in Florida and I know dudes who had seen other surfers get killed from lightning strikes. In the water is not the place to be either. If you have ever witnessed lightning hitting the water, you can see it spread over the top and cover a huge area. The most auspicious move is to get out when there is lightning.

If you can’t make it to shore in time…
I’d say lay down in the bottom of the boat and hope that whatever lightening lands does it outside of the boat. At least that puts a layer of plastic or royalex or whatever between you and the strike point.

Agree with a comment above - I have been fairly close to lightening that followed a stream of water off a roof and then visibly spread out in the puddle on the ground before dissipating. All my hair went up and now I stand further away from barn doors in a storm like that.

Show me the statistics, because I can
get the NOAA statistics for several decades for people recreating or working outside in lightning storms. And those statistics DO NOT show a high risk for lightning. Other risks include being hit by a tree, drowned by storm waves, caught in a flash flood, killed by hypothermia, etc.

Florida is perhaps the worst place for lightning risk, but it isn’t bad enough to make me huddle at home in my living room.

Bad idea
Going in the water is a very bad idea. Your best bet is to try to make it to shore ASAP and lose yourself in the trees if the the area is wooded. If not the advice here to lay down in the canoe is probably best.

Isn’t next to trees a bad idea also?

Monsson season is approaching
so ANY paddle in Arizona from July to September risks lightening.

I’ve done my paddling during thuinder storms, figuring that as I paddle slow rivers and mountain lakes, the lightening will strike the top of the mountain or tree long before it decides to funnel its way down to me.

I’m more concerned with Summer hail as our rainstorms are so hard and cold, you just huddle under your poncho and sit it out or rush for shelter.

always at risk

– Last Updated: Jun-26-14 8:33 PM EST –

There's a lightning storm coming our way...

I camped near a cell tower in SW Florida involved in bird research. Lightning goes to ground or goes from ground to cloud or...

Lightning bores multi color tunnels in low cloud layers streaking in from out in the Gulf to GROUND on the cell tower. Lightning tries hitting a mile away across a clear field but 'sees' the tower and streaks across the field at 30'...grounding on the tower.

Impossible predicting where the path may be.

But in memory, experiencing a triangle of electricity snap up from water away from the dock I was standing on, blowing air into an ear snapping crackle is a step away from what we live thru on land.

Guess where that bolt rose from ? The site of a helicopter crash.

For information search: lightning and small boats or lightning and sail boats.

Small sail boat sailors tell me lightning comes down the mast n goes over the side. ?!

3-4 golfers are struck here every year.

I have not read of a Hobe sailor electrocuted.

Great storm. All electricity so far.

NOAA link

Tampa Bay fishing kayak referred to:

The bay is often dotted with fishing kayaks, squall lines at 50 mph, waterspouts…

struck while riding motorcycle.

What a way to go.

If one googles lightning and safety,
one will get many hits, many studies and papers, on lightning and deaths and injuries.

But what is needed is NOAA papers comparing thunderstorm deaths and injuries resulting from all causes, lightning, wind, downed trees, flash flooded cars, blown down buildings, storm hypothermia, car accidents due to difficulty driving in a rainstorm, etc. etc.

In fact, NOAA has that information, but because of their catchy lightning campaign, they don’t present the whole truth.

One doesn’t need google or NOAA. All I have to do is pay attention to the local news about storm deaths and injuries, and it is IMMEDIATELY apparent that lightning does NOT head the list.

Give me time, I will find that one honest NOAA paper.

I read past the fatality total 23 for last year.

Injury totals are of course higher. I probably was hit by a field of electricity, suffering a blood pressure loss, loss of strength following exercise.

I was in excellent condition but needed rest following exercise. White blood count lowered.

The number of times I was in the immediate strike area while based in Florida…maybe 20 times. Eyahahhha, like standing on road near a pine planting across the Apalachicola River from an oncoming small tornado thunderstorm,and zick zick zick…small bolts came down striking every 4th sapling on down that row.

The opportunities for being struck down are plentiful.

The point in my prior post was, in the boat, you are inescapably the local surface anomaly or ground.

Beyond being struck, wind velocities, hail, violent cloudbursts are possible.

And when I find the NOAA comparison
chart, you will see that your risk of death or injury from lightning does NOT stand out amongst drowning, wind, falling trees, whatever.

The NOAA is pulling a public relations scam. They have, in print, told outdoor recreationists (us) to NOT recreate on days when thunderstorms are forecast, but instead to huddle in our living rooms and watch videos.

Whoever does the lightning PR in NOAA is an idiot.

Low risk but…
I worked at a golf course for about ten years, and with lots of mature trees in an open field, it got hit a couple of time each summer. I can only remember one time when a golfer was struck by lighting, and it wasn’t a direct hit. He got zapped as the current moved through the ground. Still, compared to other hazards that paddlers face, the possibility of getting struck by lighting has to be pretty far down on the list.

The rule of thumb for our local club is if you can hear thunder you need to head for shore, and wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before heading back out. The trouble is that there is often no safe place to go. For real protection, you need to be in something substantial, like a building with wiring and plumbing, or your car. Paddlers will often head for picnic shelters or trees, and these offer no protection from lightning.

If you are stuck outside in a thunderstorm, the best you can often do is avoid the following:

• Open areas including water – you don’t want to be the tallest object around.

• Hills, isolated trees, towers or utility poles - lightning tends to strike these taller objects.

• Metal conductors such as wires or fences - metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can travel for long distances through it.

So, pretty low risk, but don’t push your luck.

I love a crusade

I think those are reasonable rules for
safety. My issue with the NOAA is that they literally are telling everyone to go inside and huddle in the living room, not just when thunder and lightning are nearby, but even if thundershowers are predicted.

We lived next to a golf course. Whenever a heavy storm flooded the fairways, my brother and I would be wasding the fairways, hoping to shag balls abandoned by golfers fleeing the storm.

The golf course had little shelters situated on hilltops. (?!?!)

One night I was just getting to sleep when WHAM! I thought the Russians had attacked. Then I smelled the ozone. The big oak tree died the next day.

Is 23 enough for a crusade? A parade?
Any list of 23 semi-related facts seems to be enough for datakoll to get on stage with his note cards.

Lightning is a risk, but not the biggest risk. The biggest risk is the stupid actions one takes when in fear of the small chance of being struck by lightning.

70 plus year record of storm related

Note that lightning deaths start high and drop steadily, while some other categories (flood) tend to increase.

Perhaps getting farmers off their tractors is what causes lightning deaths to drop so much.

At any rate, you can see that a storm can kill in many more ways than by lightning. Lightning is just one “opportunity” for the paddler.

What do you mean, “our way”? You have
no profile and we don’t know where you paddle.