Can you take a shower during a thunderstorm? We answer the question and which myths about the storm are true
Summertime also means thunderstorm time and a severe thunderstorm warning raises questions that you probably wouldn’t think of during other times of the year. Everyone probably knows that you should avoid water and pools as well as trees during storms. But what about taking a bath or even using your cell phone? And is it true that you are more likely to be struck by lightning with an open umbrella? Can you take a shower during a thunderstorm and leave the windows open? We answer these questions and clarify which myths are true and which are complete nonsense.
Table of Contents
- Is it safe to take a shower or use the tub during a thunderstorm?
- Do you have to close the window or is that unnecessary?
- Outdoor Severe Weather Warning – What Should You Do?
Is it safe to take a shower or use the tub during a thunderstorm?
Just as you were about to wash up, thunder and lightning started. It seems like the storm is right over your home. What are you doing now? Are you safe to bathe in the bathtub during a thunderstorm and what about the shower? You only spend a few minutes in the shower anyway…
Can you take a bath during a thunderstorm?
Can you take a bath during a thunderstorm? Well, that basically depends on what kind of house you live in. And yes, in older houses the pipes can still be made of metal, which, as you know, is a great conductor of electricity, and lightning is an electrical charge, after all. So it can get all the way to your shower head and then through the running water to you, which is also due to the plumbing not being properly connected and not grounded. And for this, the lightning does not even have to strike directly into your house, but only nearby.
In new buildings (usually since the 1980s), the pipes are not only made of non-conductive plastic, they are also grounded and the electrical system is installed professionally. If there is also a lightning rod inside the house, the bath in the tub is no longer a risk factor.
If you live in an older building, you may want to consult your landlord or an expert at some point. Internal lightning protection can also be retrofitted.
Swimming in the pool, lake, river and other body of water during a storm
Bathing in the pool is also part of swimming. What about it? Under no circumstances should you swim in swimming pools or other bodies of water during a storm. Again, it is not necessary for lightning to strike in close proximity to cause significant damage (severe burns) or even death (paralysis while swimming, resulting in drowning). In the event of a lightning strike, its enormous energy is discharged within a radius of up to 100 meters.
Can you take a shower during a thunderstorm?
Is it dangerous to shower during a thunderstorm? The same applies to showering during a thunderstorm as to bathing in the bathtub. If the water pipes are laid the old way and are made of metal, it is better not to shower during a thunderstorm, but to wait until after the storm. In new buildings you can take a shower during a thunderstorm.
Do you have to close the window or is that unnecessary?
There are many people who love to watch lightning and listen to the thunder. Of course, this works even better with the window open (and after all, for safety reasons, you shouldn’t watch this natural spectacle on the balcony or terrace). But can you leave the windows open during a thunderstorm or should you close the windows during a thunderstorm?
Open windows during a thunderstorm are harmless with regard to lightning, regardless of the year of construction. So it doesn’t make your home any more attractive to lightning than usual. The only things that can cause problems are strong winds and storms, as well as rain and eventual hail, which can cause damage by entering the home.
Outdoor Severe Weather Warning – What Should You Do?
If you shouldn’t take a shower or bathe during a thunderstorm under certain conditions within your own four walls, then being outdoors must be life-threatening, right? In fact, if there is a storm warning, you should seek safe shelter in due time. What should be considered outdoors?
- Camping during a thunderstorm is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Overall, a tent is by no means safe. Regardless of the material it is made of, it does not protect against lightning strikes or strong winds. For this reason, you should not stay in the tent during a thunderstorm. Instead, as soon as you notice a change in the weather, seek safe shelter in a car (more on that in a moment) or in a nearby building with a lightning rod.
- You may have heard that cars offer perfect protection against lightning. That’s true, but only under certain conditions. Only wagons with a body made entirely of metal form the protective so-called Faraday cage, through which the load is guided directly into the ground. However, many convertibles and caravans and mobile homes do not have this property and are therefore not safe. Likewise, you should never ride a bike during a thunderstorm!
- An umbrella during a thunderstorm is just not a good idea, as it increases your body area, so to speak. Experts recommend crouching down and making yourself as small as possible in an emergency (when there is no safe shelter nearby). With an umbrella during a thunderstorm, however, you increase the potential area that lightning could strike, and it does so at the highest point nearby.
- You should also avoid trees, regardless of whether they are oak or beech. Don’t be fooled by proverbs. Trees are not only tall, but their crowns also offer a large potential impact area, with the risk being increased even more if the leaves are wet with rain.
- Contrary to some claims, the cell phone is completely harmless during a thunderstorm, no matter whether you are just carrying it with you or even making a call. Only telephone lines on wired telephones in the house can give an electric shock, but it is harmless and more likely to damage the telephone. This applies in particular to telephone lines laid above ground. However, these, like the metal water pipes, are only found in old houses, if at all.