7 tips for staying safe in a sea kayak during thunderstorms and lightning October 15, 2013 – Posted in: Sea kayaking

I remember the nervousness and the scary feeling I had when a sudden thunderstorm cached me 1nm from the nearest shore. One nautical mile doesn’t seem a lot, but at that time it seemed like light years away from where I wanted to be.

Eirik SolheimFoto: Eirik Solheim

I paddled like a madman to land, dragged the kayak onto the shore, walked a few meter inshore and waited the storm to pass.

But what would have happened if I was in the middle of a bay, off shore, or near an inaccessible coast?

Here are 7 things you should do if a thunderstorm catches you on the water:

1. Get to shore ASAP! Believe me, you will break your personal best when sprinting to the shore.

2. Change to the wooden paddle. Those paddling with wooden Greenland paddles have an advantage here.

3. Use the low angle stroke. Lightning hits the highest objects.

4. If you can’t get to shore, stay as low as possible. Put your head down (and pray)!

5. Take off any metallic objects on yourself. Not because they would attract the lightning, but because they can leave you burn marks if you get hit by lightning.

6. If you are in a group, don’t stick too close together. Be at least 30m from each other. So if one gets hit, the others won’t be affected, but still close enough to offer help.

7. Stay calm. Panicking will only make it even more dangerous.

PS: contrary to popular belief, the mobile phones don’t attract the lightning. Don’t be afraid to use one in case of emergency.