Can you Shower during a Thunderstorm?
We have all heard the stories from our grandparents (when the thunder roars, go indoors!) and thought maybe it’s an urban myth?
Well, it’s not. So, think again if you are thinking about taking a shower.
According to Jeffrey Peters, a Severe Weather Program Coordinator from the National Weather Service (NWS), the “old wives’ tale” is actually true.
It is extraordinarily dangerous to take a shower during a thunderstorm or do any other indoor water-related activities simultaneously when a storm brewing outside.
And these additional water-related activities I mentioned? Well, the list is quite long.
If Lightning strikes your house, it will tend to go through either the plumbing or your home’s electrical wiring.
All of which are mostly made of metal.
That means anything plugged into an internal receptacle or connected to an outside wire or pipe could become energized with large amounts of electricity.
Any plumbing in your house is vulnerable to a lightning strike.
Also, be aware that a lightning strike can travel through metal rebar, which is used to construct concrete walls and flooring.
Regardless, if your pipes are PVC, the water will conduct electricity.
The impurities in water make for a great conductor of electricity.
All of these can get you struck by lightning.
What to Avoid During a Thunderstorm?
The shower and bathtub are the leading plumbing-related culprits, followed by your sinks, washing machine, dryer, and finally, your dishwasher.
As for electrical items, anything that’s plugged into the wall. Lamps, entertainment units, or a corded phone – if they still actually exist anymore in 2023.
So, to stay safe in the next thunderstorm in your area, remember to :
- Do not touch any electrical equipment like stereos, TVs, and computers (wireless laptops are fine)
- Stay off corded phones. Cell phones are fine to use inside.
- Avoid all plumbing connected items like tubs, showers, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines. Which means no washing dishes!
- Stay away from windows that are metal framed and may have leaks in them.
- Do not lean against or lie down on any concrete walls or floors.
- Stay off porches, balconies, and out of open carports or garages.
- Bring your pets inside. Dogs and dog houses that may be metal chained to a wall or a tree are vulnerable to a lightning strike.
And if you’re outside:
- Seek appropriate shelter immediately in what’s considered a safe shelter.
- Do not lie on the ground or seek shelter under a tree.
A safe shelter is anything that is fully enclosed by walls or barriers with a roof.
Homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-topped vehicles with windows rolled up are all examples of a safe shelter.
Lightning doesn’t necessarily have to strike your house directly for it to be a problem.
Lightning can strike an area away from your home and still be problematic.
Lightning can travel up to 100 feet and still cause a contact injury.
This is where lightning hits something you are touching.
This is called indirect lightning and accounts for up to 50% of lightning injuries.
They have also been known to cause multiple animal deaths.
These are just a few examples:
- In 2016, indirect lighting killed 323 reindeer in Hardangervidda, Norway.
- In 2018, six cows were found dead from an indirect strike in Queensland, Australia.
If some of your home’s wiring or plumbing is close to that, then that’s the way it’s going to make its way into your home.
If you hear thunder, then Lightning is within striking distance of your home.
That should be your signal to step away from your home’s plumbing and electricity outlets.
To be extra safe, you should wait at least 30 minutes after the lightning storm passes to resume using any of these listed items.
It’s inconvenient, but the alternative is much worse.
NOAA states that “Lightning strikes the United States approximately 25 million times a year.
Although most Lightning storms occur in the summer, people can and have been struck by lightning in all seasons of the year.
Lightning kills 20 or more people in the US annually, and hundreds more sustain severe injuries.
If you want to know more about Lightning Safety, check out this brochure from NOAA. https://www.weather.gov/media/safety/Lightning-Brochure18.pdf
Even if your plumbing is made up of PVC pipes and not metal pipes, the possibility of electrocution is never completely eliminated since lightning can travel through water.
Your safety in such scenarios is also dependent on whether you have a lightning rod or a similar system installed.
What is the 30-30 Rule for Lightning?
If you observe lightning in the sky, count the seconds until you hear thunder.
If it is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is close enough to be a safety concern, and it is recommended that you seek shelter immediately (if you are unable to see the lightning, using the sound of thunder as a backup rule is a good option).
Once inside a safe shelter, wait for at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash before venturing out again.
What are the 5 Dangers of Lightning?
The possibility of being harmed by lightning is often associated with direct strikes that could potentially injure or even cause death.
However, it’s important to note that such instances are responsible for only a small percentage of lightning-related injuries compared to other causes.
Other factors that can cause lightning-related injuries include:
Contact (with an object struck by lightning)
📗 Related Reading: Homeowners Guide to Electrical Safety
While we have made it sound scary to be struck by Lightning in your home, it’s much safer than being outside during a storm.
When the old wives tale says: “When thunder roars, go indoors!” it’s worth listening to.
So, long story short, it’s not safe to take a shower!
If you want to learn more about plumbing and your home, check out our other plumbing articles here or if you need an affordable and reliable plumber, check out Phyxter Plumbing Services and see if we service your area.