Storms and Water Safety

Article by: Dayle Rothman

Do you know when and why to get out of the water? You're at the beach and dark clouds start rolling in, what do you do? You're at the community pool and the sky is clear but you hear thunder, does that mean you must get out of the water? The Swimming Swan's number 1 goal is to keep you safely swimming and that includes water safety during storms. 


Electricity and water are a deadly combination!

The risk of being struck by lightning in the water is real and extremely dangerous. Lightning typically strikes wide open flat surfaces and searches for the highest point. When you are swimming in a lake or the ocean your head bobbing out of the water may be the highest point for miles making it a favorite target. A direct lightning strike is terrifying, but it's often an indirect strike that can still reach you several feet away. According to the US National Weather Service a typical lightning flash measures about 300 million volts and 30,000 amps. which is more than enough to kill. When lightning strikes water it travels horizontally along the surface which is why it's more hazardous to swimmers than fish who swim deeper. Swimming pools both indoor and outdoor are also to be avoided during electrical storms since there are metal pipes in and around the pools that can attract the electricity. Storms are frequently regarded as a summer issue but they can pop up any time of the year and should always be taken seriously. Here are the recommended guidelines you should follow to keep you and your family safe during storms.


  • We advise always checking the upcoming weather before planning a day at the lake or beach. If storms are predicted, consider postponing your plans to avoid unnecessary danger.


  • If you hear thunder or see lightning get out of the water immediately! Follow the CDC's 30-30 rule to assess how far off the storm is after you have exited the water. Count to 30 after the initial roar and if you don't reach 30 before the next roar of thunder or bolt of lightning automatically suspend all water activity for at least 30 minutes.


  • Taking shelter can be tricky if you are at the lake or beach. If a storm rolls in quickly your car may be the best form of shelter. Avoid concrete structures since there are metal pipes that can conduct electricity through the structure. 


  • If there is no shelter available, the CDC recommends crouching low with as little of your body touching the ground as possible.


This article is brought to you by: The Swimming Swan