A thunderstorm is a temporary weather event that causes thunder and lightning. The sound of thunder is like a warning, as it means you’re within the striking distance of lightning.
Lightning is a large spark of electricity. It’s one of the most dangerous parts of a thunderstorm. According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes about 300 people in the United States each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about
It’s also worth noting from the organization that your chance of getting struck by lightning is low —
To date, it’s unknown if anyone has ever died by showering during a thunderstorm.
During a thunderstorm, you should avoid using water in general. Electricity from lightning can move through water pipes in the entire building, not just the bathroom.
The CDC advises against all water usage, including washing the dishes or your hands.
A lightning strike poses the risk of death by electrocution. Its effects on the body can range in type and severity.
Lightning strikes can cause:
- skin rash (erythema)
- severe muscle contractions
- nervous system injuries
- severe multiorgan injuries
- cardiovascular effects, like cardio-pulmonary arrest
Most lightning-related deaths are due to cardiovascular effects.
In addition to avoiding water usage, it’s recommended to avoid other indoor activities like:
Electrical wires, like plumbing, can conduct electricity from a lightning strike. The electricity can travel along the wires and cause electrocution.
During a thunderstorm, it’s recommended to avoid using electronics that are plugged into an electrical outlet. This includes devices like:
- corded phones
- game systems
- washers and dryers
According to the CDC, it’s safe to use cell phones during a thunderstorm.
Standing near a window
The CDC also advises against standing or sitting near windows. You should avoid being near doors and porches, too.
Sitting against concrete
There are metal wires in concrete floors or walls. The electricity from a lightning strike can travel through these wires, so it’s recommended to avoid being on concrete floors or walls.
Other thunderstorm precautions
During a thunderstorm, the best way to avoid getting hurt outdoors is to stay inside. Always check the weather before starting outdoor activities.
If you’re outside when a thunderstorm begins, here’s what you can do to stay safe:
- Find shelter. Seek shelter in an enclosed building. If there are no buildings nearby, stay in an enclosed vehicle with a metal top and closed windows.
- Avoid lying on the ground. When lightning strikes the ground, its electrical currents can travel more than 100 feet. Ground currents are the most common cause of lightning injuries and deaths.
- Move away from water. If you’re swimming, leave the water immediately. Avoid ponds, pools, and other bodies of water.
- Avoid standing under trees. If lightning strikes the tree, the electricity can travel to the trunk and electrocute you.
- Avoid power lines. Never touch fallen power lines during or after a thunderstorm. It’s also advised to avoid barbed wire fences and windmills, which can conduct electricity.
It’s unsafe to shower during a thunderstorm. If lightning strikes a water pipe or nearby ground, the electricity can travel through the plumbing. This could potentially cause electrocution if you’re showering or using water.
Your chances of getting electrocuted by lightning are low. However, using water will increase your risk. It’s also advised to avoid using electronics plugged into outlets and going outside during a thunderstorm.