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If you’re an avid boater, chances are you’ll encounter at least some instances of less-than-desirable weather this season. From heavy rain to lightning, it’s always in your best interest to be prepared.

Before leaving the dock, always check local weather conditions on your television, Internet or radio. Even if all signs point to a clear and calm day, it’s still a good idea to have an emergency preparedness kit on board with items that include personal floatation devices, flares, a first-aid kit, a two-way radio and a poncho to help keep you dry. Though forecasts are mostly accurate, a surprise storm is always a possibility. In the event of darkening clouds, unstable and rough winds, or sudden drops in temperature, try to dock your boat and get off of the water as quickly as possible.

It’s not unheard of for boaters to be caught in unexpected, heavy weather. If this occurs, make sure everyone on board is wearing a life jacket. If offshore, make note of your current location, reduce speed and secure all loose objects. Close and cover all openings and hatches. Don’t forget to make note of where your safety kit and distress signals are located and gather those items if necessary. Try to gauge the direction of the wind using Buys-Ballot’s Law. You’ll not want to head into the storm by mistake or into the center of low pressure where weather can be the most unstable.

Lightning can be more dangerous than heavy rain or strong winds. There are no rules that can keep you absolutely safe from lightning due to its unpredictable nature. You can, however, take some precautions. The most obvious precaution would be not to go outside or on the water during a lightning storm. If you’re unable to go inside during a lightning storm, the best alternative is to make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket and has on rubber-soled shoes if possible. Have everyone on board sit on the floor away from electrical panels and gear. It should be a comfort to know that lighting doesn’t strike on water nearly as often as it does on land. Hopefully, that bit of knowledge will help ease the anxiety a boater caught in a storm is sure to experience!

For more weather tips from United Marine Underwriters, visit a past blog here.

United Marine Underwriters is more than just boat insurance. Browse our Used Boats For Sale at Boat Browser or our new Lakes and Waterways’ Guide at Lake Browser. Check out our True Fish Tales – the ones that did not get away – and share your fishing stories.

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