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Physicist explains why you should never shower during a thunderstorm

Updated Jan 3rd, 2023 12:05PM EST
Image: Konstantin Yuganov/Adobe

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Thunderstorms can be great. Not only do they bring much-needed rain, but if they aren’t too severe, they can also be very relaxing. However, there are some important things to remember about thunderstorms, and one you might not think of that much. For example, you shouldn’t go outside or stand under a tree. And you also shouldn’t shower during thunderstorms, either.

The idea of not showering during a thunderstorm might seem crazy. After all, why should that matter? You’re inside, and you’re protected by the rest of the house around you. But, when you take a shower during a thunderstorm, you’re opening yourself up to electric shock. That’s because if electricity strikes your house, it’s most likely going to travel through the pipes, too.

Showering during a thunderstorm can be dangerous

thunderstorm close-upImage source: Toni / Adobe

The chances of being struck by lightning are low, but they are never zero. And, depending on what you’re doing, those chances can rise quite a bit – even when you’re inside your home. That’s because lightning works based on positive and negative discharges. And, when it strikes, the energy created by those discharges has to go somewhere.

But what exactly does all of this have to do with showering during a thunderstorm? When lightning strikes something, it looks for the path of least resistance. That’s why we have things like electric conductors in the world. These conductors are great because they allow electricity to travel through them easily.

When you shower during a thunderstorm, you put yourself close to two of these primary conductors: water and metal pipes. Water is a great conductor of electricity, and the metal pipes that often carry water to the showers in our homes are also great at moving electricity. So, when lightning strikes a home, it jolts through these easy conductors to reach the ground.

A thunderstorm with lightning. Image source: Christopher/Adobe

If you’re in the bath when lightning strikes, the electric discharge may travel through the pipes and into the tub or shower. And James Rawlings, a Physics lecturer with Nottingham Trent University, says this would turn any relaxing shower into a nightmare.

Around 240,000 people are injured by lightning strikes each year worldwide. Another 24,000 people may lose their lives to lightning strikes. Because of the risks, showering during a thunderstorm can be dangerous. So, if you hear thunder in the distance, refrain from hopping in the shower, as you’re probably close enough for lightning to reach you.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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