I was sitting in my truck last week waiting out a rain and lightning event. My plan was to meet some friends after work to paddle stand up boards into sunset at Siesta beach. As I sat in my truck I could see that my friends were already on the water even though lightning was cracking all around them. People continued to stroll past me in the beach parking lot headed for the water with there chairs and coolers, some had umbrellas, UMBRELLAS. I judged the conditions too dangerous to leave the vehicle and wave my friends in, not that they didn't know what was going on over and around them. It was an hour before I felt safe enough to step onto the beach. That day there were no tragedies. That is not always the case.
I am frequently asked if alligators are in the water. Sometimes sharks are a concern. As a native of Sarasota I give these cautious paddlers my list of the most dangerous "things" that they might encounter in this area. This is it, starting with what I feel presents the most danger, lightning, stepping on sharp objects and long term sun exposure.
To protect yourself, wear good sun protection including sun gloves, wear good foot gear, don't go out or get caught out in lightning, and don't plant an umbrella on the beach in a lightning storm!
See you out there, George