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Paddlers be warned

July 30, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Florida has more people struck by lightning each year than any other state of the union. More people are killed by lightning in Florida than any other state.

Many cities in Florida, like Bonita Springs, blow their FDP warning sirens when lightning is a danger.

Like most people we like to watch the storms move through the area, but have learned to do it under cover.

If you hear thunder -or the sirens- get to shelter ASAP. Lightning can hit you if you can hear the thunder. Each year in Florida people are struck while the sky over their head is clear.

Calusa Ghost Tours watches and has the most up-to-time weather radar at their launch location. We will not launch you if we believe lightning will be in the area during the time you would be on the water. This means that even if it is not raining or cloudy overhead at the time, we may not launch you if we think if will be before you return.

Please remember if "you hear thunder get under cover" this does not mean a tree, a tent/canopy on the beach, or a boat. It means a grounded structure with a roof.

What should you do if caught out in thunder and lightning while paddling?

Paddlers on the rivers should get under bridges until the lightning passes then get back and out of the water as soon as possible. When in the open, get to the closest building or structure. Do not stay in the open. Don't use electrical devices while in the open. Get to cover and let someone know where you are and what condition you are in and if you need to be picked up. Be sure to ask your paddle craft vendor before you go out what the weather conditions will be and if it is safe in regards to lightning.

John Paeno

Bonita Springs



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