Lightning presents a risk to anyone who is outside during a thunderstorm. Those on-the-water are particularly vulnerable. The notes below are intended as a guide to anyone encountering thunder during a kayak trip or when planning a trip.

During the last 30 years in the UK there have been approx 60 deaths from lightning trikes (roughly 2 per year). Only around 1:10 lightning strikes are actually fatal - a range of other serious and minor injuries can be caused.

The biggest cause of death, for those actually struck, is cardiac-arrest and lives can be saved by rapid intervention with CPR and/or a defibrillator.

Of the 60 deaths, out-door leisure activities such as fishing, golf, hill walking etc accounted for around 75%.

Only 1 death has been recorded in the last 30 years in a kayak in the UK.


In the event of being caught in a thunder storm the best advice is to get inside a solid building or vehicle. Sheltering under trees, or in sheds, or shelters or cliffs or even caves is not safe and can make the risk worse. If caught on-the-water, get onto the land. Leave kayaks and paddles on the shore, get away from the water and look after yourselves. If you can not get to a safe building/vehicle - ie. have to remain in the open - then choose a place away from trees, posts, and tall objects. Stand in a crouched position with the hands on the knees and the head down - don't sit or lay on the ground.

Danger is generally considered to exist when the time between the flash and the thunder is less than 30 seconds - ie. lightning is less than 10km away. Danger is considered to have ceased when no thunder has been heard for 20-30 minutes.