Here’s a great water safety tip: avoid swimming during a lightning storm. That may be common sense for most of our readers, but far too many people are hurt or even killed each year by ignoring this advice.
The Dangers of Swimming During a Lightning Storm
Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Aside from loose wiring or faulty lights, swimming during a lightning storm is an easy way to get electrocuted. It should be avoided at all costs.
As we wrote about in a detailed previous article, electric shock drowning is a serious danger that all swimmers should be aware of. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Being shocked while submerged, or even touching the water, can be both paralyzing and deadly.
Losing control of your limbs while swimming can cause you to sink beneath the surface and never recover. Beyond that, the shock alone can be quite deadly.
Height and Location
Keeping this in mind, swimming during a lightning storm should be avoided at all costs. Once you start to feel drops of rain, it is time to get out of the water. Another sign that it’s time to exit the water, thunder acts as an early warning sign before lightning strikes. In most cases, thunder can be heard from about 10-15 miles away from your present location. Soon after, there will be a flash of lightning.
When lightning strikes, it often hits the tallest or highest object. This is often a tree. The surface of the water, on the other hand, is quite flat. Your head might very well be the tallest object.
Besides that, the water will be electrified even if you aren’t directly hit. It’s best to hop out of the water and get to indoor shelter. Following this, any water-related activities should be avoided until at least thirty minutes after the storm stops.
Shocking Danger Even Outside the Water
The dangers of swimming during a lightning storm aside, it’s best to be nowhere near the water during the storm. In fact, it’s best to stay indoors all together.
If lightning strikes while you are even standing near a body of water, you can still be electrocuted. Even if it misses, the electricity can spread through the ground and injure you or other people standing nearby. According to recent reports from the National Institutes of Health, when it comes to lightning-related deaths, 46% of the people were fishing and 25% of them were on the beach.
Stay Safe: Plan Ahead
Swimming is a terrific, heart-healthy exercise and a great deal of fun. However, as we often report on this Safety Blog, there are circumstances in which it can also be dangerous. Taking the proper steps to keep you and your loved ones safe is critical.
Check the weather before hopping into the water. Additionally, avoid swimming alone. In case of trouble, having a friend nearby to get help could safe your life. Only swim where there is a licensed lifeguard on duty. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of learning basic First Aid techniques or becoming certified for CPR. These skills are invaluable for anyone and everyone to learn.