Summertime also means thunderstorm time, and a warning of a strong thunderstorm raises a variety of questions in some people that they probably wouldn’t think of during the other seasons. That one should avoid waters and pool as well as trees during thunderstorms is probably known to everyone. But what about the bathtub or even talking on a cell phone? And is it true that if you have an umbrella open, you’re more likely to get struck by lightning? Can you take a shower and leave the windows open during a thunderstorm? We answer these questions and clarify which myths are true and which are complete hokum.
Table of contents
- Can you take a shower or use the bathtub during a thunderstorm?
- Do you have to close the window or is that unnecessary?
- Storm warning outdoors – what should you do?
Are you allowed to take a shower or use the tub during a thunderstorm?
Just as you were about to go wash up, it starts thundering and lightning. It seems like the storm is right over your home. What do you do now? Can you bathe in the bathtub during a thunderstorm without hesitation, and what about the shower? You only spend a few minutes in the latter anyway….
Can I take a bath during a thunderstorm?
Is it allowed to take a bath during a thunderstorm? Well, it depends on what kind of house you live in. In fact, in older houses, the pipes may still be made of metal, which, as you know, is a great conductor of electricity, and lightning is, after all, an electrical charge. So it can get to your shower head and then through the running water to you, which continues to happen because the pipes are not properly connected and grounded. And for this to happen, the lightning doesn’t even have to strike your house directly, but even just nearby.
In new buildings (mostly the case since the 80s), the pipes are not only made of non-conductive plastic, but they are also grounded and the electrical system is then also properly installed. If then also a lightning conductor inside the house is added, the bath in the tub is no longer a risk factor.
If you live in an old or older building, you can consult your landlord or an expert on occasion. Internal lightning protection can also still be retrofitted.
Swimming in the pool, lake, river and other waters during a storm
But swimming also includes the pool. What about it? Swimming in pools and other bodies of water should definitely not be done 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 with drowning as a result). In fact, when lightning strikes, its enormous energy is discharged within a radius of up to 100 meters.
Is it allowed to take a shower during a thunderstorm?
Is it dangerous to take a shower during a thunderstorm? The same applies to showering during thunderstorms as to bathing in the bathtub. If the water pipes are still laid in the old way and are made of metal, it is better not to shower during thunderstorms, but to wait until after the storm. In new buildings you can shower during thunderstorms.
Do you have to close the window or is it unnecessary?
Some people like to watch lightning and listen to the thunder. Of course, this works even better with the window open (and after all, on the balcony and terrace you should not watch this natural spectacle for safety reasons). But are you allowed to leave the windows open during thunderstorms or should you close them?
Whether you are allowed to shower and bathe during thunderstorms depends on the age of the building. However, open windows during thunderstorms are harmless with regard to lightning, regardless of the year of construction. So your home will not become more attractive to lightning than usual. The only things that can become problematic are high winds and storms, as well as rain and possible hail, which can cause damage by entering the home.
Storm warning outdoors – what should you do?
If you already shouldn’t shower or bathe in your own home during thunderstorms under certain conditions, then being outside must be even more life-threatening, right? In fact, if there is a severe weather warning, you should seek safe shelter in time. What to watch out for outdoors?
- Camping during a thunderstorm is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. By and large, a tent is by no means safe. It will not protect you from a lightning strike, nor from strong winds, regardless of the material it is made of. For this reason, you should not stay in the tent during a thunderstorm. Instead, seek safe shelter in a car (more on that in a moment) or in a building with a lightning rod nearby as soon as you notice a change in the weather .
- You may have heard that cars offer perfect protection from lightning. This is true, but only under certain conditions. Only cars with a body completely made of metal form the protective so-called Faraday cage, through which the charge is conducted directly into the ground. However, many convertibles and also caravans and mobile homes do not have this property and are therefore not safe. Likewise, you should never ride a bicycle during a thunderstorm!
- An umbrella during a thunderstorm is not a good idea only insofar as it increases your body surface, so to speak. Experts recommend that in an emergency (when there is no safe shelter nearby) you huddle together and thus make yourself as small as possible. However, by using an umbrella during a thunderstorm, you increase the potential area that lightning could strike, and this happens at the highest point near it.
- You also avoid trees at all costs, whether oak or beech. Don’t be fooled by proverbs. Trees are not only tall, but their crowns also provide a large potential impact area, and the risk is even increased if the leaves are wet from rain.
- Contrary to some claims, the cell phone is completely harmless during thunderstorms , regardless of whether you only carry it with you or even make phone calls. Only telephone lines in the case of cable phones in the house can give you an electric shock, but this is not dangerous and is more likely to damage the phone. This is especially true with above ground telephone lines. However, these, as well as the metal water pipes, if any, only occur in old houses.