Can you shower during a thunderstorm? It's long been rumored that taking a nice, warm shower is a dangerous proposition when electricity is coursing through the sky. And before we get into the truth about bathing during a lightning storm, let's first discuss why it's even a question.
Debunking Lightning Myths
For one, there are a lot of silly myths about lightning. For instance, a plane getting hit by lightning generally isn't really that big of a deal — although pilots aren't crazy and do try to avoid thunderstorms, planes are built to safely conduct currents.
And yes, lightning will strike the same place twice, and many tall structures are hit often.
Even the old "rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning strikes" adage is totally false; a car is safe because it has a metal roof and sides to conduct the current to the ground.
The Steamy Truth: Showers and Thunderstorms
There are a lot of common misconceptions about how lightning works (and what it can affect), so it's not altogether crazy to think that the old "don't shower during a storm" line is another old wives' tale. But don't be mistaken about this one — showering during a thunderstorm is genuinely risky business.
Metal pipes and lightning: Most household plumbing systems have metal pipes, and lightning finds these metallic conduits all too irresistible.
Water and electricity: Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, particularly when loaded with impurities. Engaging in activities like showering, washing dishes or even just washing your hands makes you an easy target for a stray bolt seeking a path of least resistance.
The cold, hard stats back this up. Every year, 10 to 20 people in the U.S. sustain lightning strike injuries from interactions with household water during a storm.
And it doesn't stop at lightning injuries. In 2023 alone, as of publication, the National Weather Service has reported 13 lightning deaths in the U.S. for the year.
Seek Safe Shelter and Other Precautions
When there's a thunderstorm, the National Weather Service recommends seeking a safe location, away from electrical systems, electronic equipment, and, yes, the tempting call of running water.
So, next time a storm hits, maybe it's an excuse to delay washing dishes or take a rain check on that shower (no pun intended).
What to Do if Caught in a Thunderstorm
If you're outdoors and cannot find a safe shelter:
Avoid elevated areas: Lightning tends to strike the tallest objects.
Stay away from tall trees: While they might seem like a refuge, they're prime targets for lightning.
Assume a ball-like position: If you can't find shelter, squat low to the ground, but minimize contact. The idea is to make yourself a smaller target.
Lightning Safety Tips for Indoors
Watch out for concrete: Avoid contact with concrete walls and floors, which might contain metal reinforcement.
Skip the phone call: Corded phones are a no-no during thunderstorms. Even cell phones and other electronic equipment can pose risks if connected to chargers.
Mind the heart: A direct strike can lead to blunt trauma, heart attacks and even muscle injuries.
While many may think the threat is exaggerated, it's always better to be safe than sorry. After all, nobody wants to be the person struck by lightning while belting out a song in the shower. Thunderstorms and showers might both involve water, but mixing the two? Not the brightest idea!
This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.
Lots More Information
Glass, Don. "Can Lightning Strike You In The Shower?" Moment of Science. March 22, 2018. (Aug. 1, 2018) http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/can-lightning-strike-you-in-the-shower/
MythBusters. "Is It Dangerous To Take A Shower During A Thunderstorm?" Discovery. 2014. (Aug. 1, 2018) http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/shower-in-thunderstorm/
National Weather Service. "Lightning Safety Tips and Resources." 2018. (Aug. 1, 2018) https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning
O'Connor, Anahad. "The Claim: Never Bathe or Shower in a Thunderstorm." The New York Times. Aug. 15, 2006. (Aug. 1, 2018) http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/15/health/15real.html?_r=1&
StruckByLightning.org. "2018 Statistics: 15 Killed, 58 Injured." 2018. (Aug. 1, 2018) http://struckbylightning.org/stats2018.cfm
Original article: Can You Shower During a Thunderstorm?
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