Ahh, summertime. Nothing beats being out on the water paddling on a warm summer day. What could possibly go wrong?
A stand up paddler may be the tallest thing on a body of water in Colorado, and by default, the biggest target for lightning. Since 1980, 91 people have been killed by lightning in Colorado and another 411 have been injured. If you are on the water and see lightning, hear thunder, or notice your hair standing on end with static electricity, head for the nearest shore. If the storm is upon you, take your board ashore and wait for the storm to pass.
Along with thunderstorms come the increased liklihood of gust fronts, microbursts, and wind shear - all of which can make balancing and board control challenging. Stay aware of your surroundings and have a plan in case the water becomes unnavigatable.
Heat related problems are increased with summertime temperatures. Hyperthermia, commonly known as heatstroke, is a life threatening condition which demands immediate emergency treatment. Heat exhaustion is a less severe form of heat illness that must be recognized before it progresses to heat stroke. Heat cramps are painful contractions of large muscles caused by exercise in hot weather.
To avoid these problems in hot and humid weather:
a. Maintain a high fluid level. Drink water before leaving the dock and frequently while on the water. Take an individual plastic water bottle for easy access.
b. Avoid sunburn by using sunscreen, with a sweatband or hat to keep lotion out of eyes.
c. Wear light colored clothing and a hat.
d. Remain in the shade when off the water.
e. Plan your activity level consistent with the degree of heat and humidity.
NOAA Lightning infomation