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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lightning

    Frequently Asked Questions about Lightning Strikes. Learn what happens to the body as a result of a lightning strike, if cell phones are safe to use during a lightning storm, if it is safe to take a shower or bath during a lightning storm, and much more.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Lightning

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    General Information

    Indoor Lightning Safety

    Outdoor Lightning Safety

    Risk of Being Struck by Lightning

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    Source : www.cdc.gov

    Is it Safe to Shower During a Thunderstorm? Here's What Experts Say

    Is it safe to shower or take a bath during a thunderstorm? Experts warn that showering when you can hear thunder and see lightning is not a good idea—here's why.

    WELLNESS MIND & BODY

    Is it Safe to Shower During a Thunderstorm? Here's What Experts Say

    Is it Safe to Shower During a Thunderstorm? Here's What Experts Say Turns out, mom was right about this one.

    By Korin Miller Updated on May 22, 2020

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    There are some things in life that you've heard about a million times without even thinking to question their validity—like when mom told you you absolutely cannot shower during a thunderstorm. When you were younger, that was probably totally fine by you (an excuse to get out of a bath!), but now, it seems like a major inconvenience.

    So what's the deal with the claim that you can't take a shower or bath during a thunderstorm? Turns out, there's a real risk to your health there—but it's a little more complicated than you might think. Here's what to know about why you should skip shower time if there's a thunderstorm going on outside—and what you can do instead.

    What's the main concern during a thunderstorm?

    So, thunderstorms are dangerous largely due to the lightning they produce (thunder and lightning come together, but lightning poses the bigger threat). Lightning is basically a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere between clouds, the air, or the ground, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Most lightning flashes made by storms start within a cloud and, if it's going to strike the ground, a channel of energy develops downward toward the surface. When the lightning gets a hundred yards or so off the ground, objects like trees and bushes and buildings start sending up (invisible) energy sparks to meet it, NOAA explains. When one of those sparks connects with the downward developing channel, a huge electric current surges rapidly down the channel and you get a ground surge.

    Here's where your health comes into play: Lightning can affect people in a number of ways, either from a direct strike (when you're directly hit by lightning, which is often fatal), a contact injury (where lightning hits something you're touching), or a ground current (when lighting strikes the ground, and the ground current passes from the strike point, through the ground, and into you), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 10% of people struck by lightning die, usually from a heart attack, the CDC says. You can also get serious injuries like blunt trauma, neurological syndromes, muscle injuries, eye injuries, skin lesions, and burns.

    Is It Bad to Pee in the Shower? We Asked a Urologist

    OK, so why shouldn't you shower during a thunderstorm?

    Scary fact: Lightning can travel through your pipes and strike you while you're showering. "The plumbing and other metal in our homes can serve as a conduit for electrical current," Jeffrey A. Andresen, PhD, professor of geography, environment, and spatial sciences at Michigan State University, tells Health. "If you are extremely unlucky and in contact with some of the plumbing or other metal in your home and lightning strikes, you could be seriously injured or worse as electricity passes through the metal."

    But it's not just the metal that's an issue: Water can carry electrical currents from lightning, too, lightning expert Mary Ann Cooper, MD, professor emerita of emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, tells Health. So, basically, showering in a thunderstorm leaves you open to a double-whammy of electricity that can travel through your pipes and the water in it to shock you while you're just trying to clean up.

    Why does this all happen? The lightning is trying to find a path to the ground, Jeffrey Peters, severe weather program coordinator and lightning safety expert at NOAA, tells Health. "If lightning strikes a home directly or enters the building through the wiring, plumbing, or landline phone wire, the electricity will follow a path of least resistance through the wires or plumbing to reach the ground," he says—and sometimes you can get in the way of that path.

    How Often Do You Really Need to Shower? Dermatologists Reveal the Truth

    How risky is it to take a shower during a thunderstorm?

    Getting injured from showering during a thunderstorm is not something that happens a lot, but it can. "Is it common? No, but it is possible," says Cooper. "There are no absolute safety guarantees except by complete avoidance." Joseph Dwyer, PhD, a professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire, agrees. "It is possible for lightning to kill someone taking a bath or shower, so the smart choice is not to risk it," he says.

    Again, this is rare but it could happen. "I've been an ER physician for 13 years, and I have not seen someone struck by lightning in their house," Nicholas Kman, MD, an emergency medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Health. Still, he says, you're making a risk-benefit analysis where you have something minor like getting clean on one end and the possibility of serious injury or death on the other.

    If you did happen to shower during a thunderstorm and lightning struck, you could be at risk of passing out, getting burns from the heat of the water, numbness and tingling, having your heart stop, or even dying, Kman says.

    Source : www.health.com

    Should You Shower During a Thunderstorm? Learn Home Safety Tips

    Showering during a thunderstorm is not safe. Learn more about staying safe in your home during a thunderstorm and activities you should avoid.

    Is It Safe to Shower During a Thunderstorm?

    Medically reviewed by Jenneh Rishe, RN — Written by Kirsten Nunez on August 29, 2021

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    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 10 percent

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    of people struck by lightning die.

    It’s also worth noting from the organization that your chance of getting struck by lightning is low — less than 1 in a million

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    . However, certain activities can increase your risk. This includes showering during a thunderstorm. Read on to learn why it’s unsafe, along with other activities you should avoid.

    Is it safe to take a shower during a thunderstorm?

    No. The CDC Trusted Source Trusted Source

    mentions that it’s unsafe to shower during a thunderstorm. It’s also unsafe to take baths. This is due to the risk of electrocution. The organization also says that lightning can travel through plumbing. If the lightning strikes a water pipe, the electricity can move along the pipes and cause electrocution.

    To date, it’s unknown if anyone has ever died by showering during a thunderstorm.

    Can I use water in my home 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.

    Effects of lightning strikes

    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)

    burns

    severe muscle contractions

    nervous system injuries

    severe multiorgan injuries

    cardiovascular effects, like cardio-pulmonary arrest

    Most lightning-related deaths are due to cardiovascular effects.

    What other indoor activities should I avoid?

    In addition to avoiding water usage, it’s recommended to avoid other indoor activities like:

    Using electronics

    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:

    computers corded phones game systems washers and dryers stoves

    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.

    Takeaway

    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.

    Last medically reviewed on August 29, 2021

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    Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

    Source : www.healthline.com

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