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Can a Boat Be Struck By Lightning and If So, What Happens?

Boat sailing in the stormy sea with a lighting.

Boating is fun or relaxing activity. As soothing as being on the water can be, there may be dangers involved. While boaters are usually aware of issues with tides and currents, there are other weather and element conditions to worry about.

One such condition is the possibility of a lightning strike.

Can a Boat Get Struck by Lightning?

Small boat sailing in the sea with a lightning strike.

While most people have heard that it is dangerous to be in open water during a thunderstorm, they may not realize how often boats are struck by lightning.

Every year about 600 boats in the United States are hit by lightning, and approximately 10 people die as a direct result.

Why Lightning Stricks Boats?

A cargo boat near seashore in a bad stormy weather.

Several factors contribute to why boats are frequently hit by lightning.

Storm Formation Location

For one, thunderstorms often form over large bodies of water. This means that there is a greater chance for a boat to be in the path of a thunderstorm.

Boat Materials

Another factor is that boats are often made of metal, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. This means that if a boat is hit by lightning, the electrical current will move easily through the metal, potentially damaging the boat and injuring any people on board.

What Happens When a Boat is Struck by Lightning?

Explosion and fire breakout in a cargo ship.

The effects of a lightning strike on a boat can be significant. The electrical current from the lightning can damage the boat’s structure, as well as any electronic equipment on board.

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This can cause fires or explosions, which can lead to further damage or injuries. In addition, the people on board the boat may be injured by the electrical current or by the fire that results from the strike.

How to Stay Safe on a Boat During a Thunderstorm

Given the potential dangers of a lightning strike, boaters need to take precautions when thunderstorms are in the area.

  1. The best way to avoid being struck by lightning is to get off of the water and to a safe location as quickly as possible.
  2. If you are caught in a thunderstorm while on the water, the best thing to do is to drop anchor and wait out the storm.
  3. Make sure that all of your electronics are turned off, and stay as low to the ground as possible.
  4. Do not touch any metal surfaces, as this will provide a path for the electrical current to move through your body if the boat is struck.
  5. By following these safety precautions, you can minimize the risk of being struck by lightning while on a boat.

Will a Lighting Strike Destroy a Boat?

A boat drowning in the sea with a lightning strike.

Though a lightning strike can cause significant damage to a boat, it is very rare for the strike to destroy the vessel.

In most cases, the damage from a lightning strike can be repaired, though it may be expensive.

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect your boat from lightning strikes, you can check out BoatUS. The BoatUS Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides educational resources for boaters.

What Should You Do if Your Boat is Struck by Lightning?

Massive waves and lightning strikes in a stormy weather.

If your boat does happen to be struck by lightning, the first thing you should do is call for help. Then, assess the situation and see if anyone on board has been injured. If there are any fires on board, try to extinguish them.

Once you have taken care of any immediate dangers, you can start to assess the damage to your boat. Take pictures of the damage, and make a list of all of the repairs that will need to be made. If you have insurance, contact your provider to start the claims process.

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Dealing with the aftermath of a lightning strike can be stressful, but if you take things one step at a time, you will be able to get your boat back in working order.

Does Boat Insurance Cover Lightning Stikes?

Boat insurance policies typically cover damage from lightning strikes. However, it is important to read your policy carefully to see what is and is not covered.

Some policies may have exclusions for certain types of damage, or they may only cover certain repairs up to a certain amount. Make sure you understand your policy before you need to make a claim.

If you have any questions, you can always contact your insurance provider for more information.

Will Lightning Damage Certain Types of Boats Worse than Others?

Lightning strikes and big waves with a drowning ship.

The type of boat you have will not necessarily affect the amount of damage it sustains from a lightning strike.

However, certain types of boats may be more likely to be struck by lightning than others.

For example, boats that are taller or have metal components are more likely to be struck than shorter boats or those made entirely from fiberglass.

The size of the boat also does not matter, as lightning can strike any vessel, no matter how large or small.

Related: Aluminum vs. Fiberglass Boat: Why We Chose Aluminum Over Fiberglass

What Matters Most Is How You Handle A Strike

No matter what type of boat you have, the most important thing is how you handle a lightning strike.

By following the proper safety precautions and knowing what to do in the event of a strike, you can minimize the risk of injury and damage.

What Does Lightning Do to the Human Body?

Numerous lightning strikes in the sea.

While being struck by lightning is a rare event, it can happen. And when it does, the results can be devastating. Lightning strikes can cause serious injuries, including burns, cardiac arrest, and even death. That’s why it’s so important to take precautions to avoid being struck in the first place.

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If you are struck by lightning, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve been injured, lightning can cause internal injuries that may not be immediately apparent. If you are with someone who has been struck by lightning, call 911 and provide CPR if the person is not breathing.

Does Lightning Strike the Same Spot Twice?

It is a common misconception that lightning never strikes the same spot twice. In reality, lightning can and does strike the same spot multiple times. In fact, the Empire State Building in New York is struck by lightning an average of 23 times each year.

While it may seem like lightning is more likely to strike certain objects, the truth is that any object that is taller than its surroundings is at risk of being struck.

What are the Signs of a Thunderstorm?

A windy and stormy sea.

Thunderstorms can form quickly, so it’s important to be aware of the signs that one is developing. Some of the most common signs of a thunderstorm include darkening skies, strong winds, and large hail. If you see any of these signs, it’s important to take shelter immediately.

Thunderstorms can also produce tornadoes, so it’s important to be aware of the signs of a tornado as well. Some of the most common signs of a tornado include a rotating wall cloud, large hail, and a loud, continuous roar. If you see any of these signs, take shelter immediately and wait for the storm to pass.

Final Thoughts About Boats Being Struck by Lightning

Lightning is a dangerous force of nature, but by taking precautions, you can minimize the risk of being struck while out on the water.

Despite the dangers, boaters can still enjoy their time on the water by being aware of the conditions and taking necessary precautions.