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  • Gareth
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    Lightning and Lightning Safety for Fishermen (Part 2)

    Safety in a thunderstorm obviously best begins by avoiding the storm entirely. Weather reports may indicate with high probability that a thunderstorm will develop in a certain area and activities should be adjusted to stay out of the region in question. More often, however, thunderstorms develop without a lot of advance warning and that is where certain actions need to be taken to stay as safe as possible.

    In case of a thunderstorm, a cardinal rule called the 30/30 rule needs to be put into play at once. If the time between the lightning flash and its resulting thunder is 30 seconds or less (indicating that the thunderstorm is six miles or less away) safety measures to be discussed below should be instituted immediately as distant lightning strikes are a possibility. Resumption of activities should not take place until 30 minutes after the last flash. This is because the trailing storm clouds may still carry enough lingering charge to create lightning. Studies of lightning strikes show that most people are struck at the beginning and end of a storm. The one limitation of this rule is the situation in which the fisherman is in a deep, high sided valley which severely limits seeing an oncoming storm. The first hint of a storm may be a clap of thunder and for safety’s sake the fisherman should assume that the storm is right up on him and take immediate action.

    If at all possible, fishermen should try to reach safe shelter in advance of the storm. Examples include hardtop vehicles and homes.

    However, many times fishermen are out away from safe shelter and other forms of safety measures should be employed. If wading or fishing from the bank, moving away from the water is the first step and then the fishing rod should be placed flat on the ground. If there are nearby trees, moving into the area of the shortest trees or brush may give some shelter. If no shelter is felt to be safe, the idea is to make yourself the smallest structure in the vicinity. Often, a ditch or depression can be found to get into. No matter where you decide to ride out the storm, the Lightning Crouch should be used to minimize the risk. This position consists of crouching down on the balls of the feet, placing the hands on the forehead and the elbows on the knees. This creates the smallest amount of contact with the ground and is felt to create a safer path for an electrical charge through the body should you be struck. The previous advice of lying flat on the ground has proven to be dangerous and should not ne followed. Fishermen in groups should separate by at least a hundred feet to minimize the number of fishermen who might be involved in a lightning strike. Fishing rods should be placed flat on the ground away from the fishermen.

    If in a drift boat, several manoeuvres can be used depending on the circumstances. If a bridge is close by, the fishermen should seek shelter under it, but avoid contact with any of the structure. With many homes being built close to the river, it may be feasible to leave the boat and seek shelter under a porch. If nothing else, anchor the boat away from nearby trees with the fishermen sitting on the bottom of the boat. Fly rods should, of course, be placed flat in the boat.

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