It’s summertime. The waves are crashing, the sun is shining and you’re ready to get in the water. You take your first stroke and then realize a storm has moved onto shore – lightning strikes nearby. Is it safe to swim? Let’s talk about the age-old question, is it safe to swim in the water during a lightning storm?
Should you swim while it’s lightning? No, it’s not safe to be in the water. Lightning and water are no good together! The electricity from lightning can travel through both your body and through the water. This is why it’s important to stay out of any bodies of water while there is a thunderstorm going on.
It’s best to stay indoors when there’s an active storm outside because of how dangerous it could possibly be! Lightning has been known to hit tall objects such as trees and cell towers; but what many people don’t realize is that lightning can sometimes strike humans too! The most likely place on your body for lighting to hit would probably be your head if you’re swimming. Believe it or not this does actually happen!
How Likely is it to get Struck by Lightning in a Pool?
The odds that you’ll be struck by lightning in a pool are very low.
Dr. Philip Krider, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona estimates the probability to be about one in a billion, but it’s not unheard of for people to get hit while swimming outdoors during a storm.
In 2013, an 11-year old boy was killed when he was struck by lightning while playing soccer outside with friends during a thunderstorm in Australia.
Indoor pools generally have less risk because they’re protected from direct strikes by buildings or other structures on land; however, indoor pools can still pick up electricity from nearby power lines if they’re close enough to them.
What Happens if you are in the Water when Lightning Strikes?
You may think that you are safe in the water when a storm rolls in, but according to NOAA’s National Weather Service lightning can actually strike from the sky and travel up to 10 miles. If you happen to be swimming or fishing at this time, there is a chance that you will become electrocuted.
Every summer, we hear about people who have been struck by lightning. What happens to the body? We know that a person can die instantly or live with serious injuries after being hit. But what does it do to the body?
The National Weather Service reports that around 400 people are killed and nearly 3,000 injured each year in the United States from being struck by lightning. Lightning strikes cause cardiac arrest, muscle contraction, internal bleeding and severe burns on skin surfaces where contact is made.
If you’re a swimmer or fisherman, you know how crucial it is to stay safe while enjoying the water. Thunderstorms can cause strong currents and waves that make swimming less enjoyable and more dangerous.
But what if there’s no warning? What should you do before jumping back into the water after a thunderstorm?
The first thing to remember is that your body will react differently than usual due to an adrenaline rush caused by fear of lightning, so be aware of any unusual symptoms like dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea or even fainting. The next step is knowing how long you should wait before getting back into the water.
If you want some fascinating information on how lightning forms and what happens when it is discharged, then you must check out my post When Lightning Strikes. You’ll be blown away at some of the ways lightning can be formed that I discuss!
But if you’re looking for the stranger side of lightning, then it may be worth visiting Strange Phenomenons of Fire and Light as well. I even talk a bit about Spontaneous Human Combustion in this one…craziness I tell ya!
How Long after Lightning is it Safe to Swim?
It is safe to swim after lightning has struck the water, but you should wait at least 30 minutes before jumping in. After a storm, pools and open bodies of water will be filled with toxins and bacteria from rotting debris. This is because the waters are disturbed from the rising winds, and also due to animals seeking refuge in these bodies of water. When you walk through these areas, your feet can absorb the harmful chemicals.
You can also avoid any potential harm by not swimming in open bodies of water during storms or at night when it’s more difficult to see dangers. For some in-depth information regarding swimming pool safety as related to storms and lightning, check out Swimming Pools And Lightning – Pool Safety During Storms
Is it Safe to Swim in the Ocean During a Thunderstorm?
It’s always a good idea to know the weather forecast before you go swimming in the ocean. Yes, it is safe to swim in the ocean during a thunderstorm, but I would advise against it! If you insist on doing this, then beware, if lightning strikes near you and it starts sparking around your feet, then get out of the water!
A couple other things to keep in mind:
- Don’t stand on rocks or metal when there are electrical storms happening because they can conduct electricity through them.
- Stay away from power lines that may be submerged in water.
- Avoid contact with seaweed and plants underwater as these could also conduct electricity.
If you’re feeling nervous about being at sea during a storm- just remember that boats are much safer than being out on land because they have more protection against being affected by lightning strikes.
Summing things up
With all things being said, swimming or fishing during a thunderstorm, or while it’s raining should not be done if one were using common sense. You can do it considering the chances, percentage wise, are low that you would get struck by lightning. But I definitely would not recommend leaving this up to chance. If the odds were against you that day, then you may wind up being seriously injured or possibly worse…You may end up dead!
So use your better judgement and if it’s raining outside or looks like there may be a storm brewing…then maybe you should think on rescheduling that swimming or fishing trip for a sunnier day.