The Possible Dangers Of Cleaning Dishes Or Taking A Shower During A Thunderstorm

Understanding the Risks: Electric Conductivity of Water

Have your parents or grandparents ever warned you against taking a bath, shower, or doing the dishes during a thunderstorm? While it might sound like an old wives’ tale, this caution is grounded in reality. Metallic plumbing pipes, commonly found in sinks and showers, serve as conductors of electricity. Therefore, during a storm, tap water can become a conduit for electricity.

The Science Behind It: Tap Water and Electricity

Although pure, distilled water doesn’t conduct electricity well, tap water, with its dissolved ions, becomes an effective conductor. According to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service, engaging in activities like washing hands or dishes during a thunderstorm can be hazardous. He advises avoiding such activities whenever thunder is heard, especially if there’s a connection to electrical appliances or plumbing.

Hidden Dangers: Plastic Plumbing Pipes

You might assume that plastic plumbing pipes offer safety, but the water flowing through them still poses a risk. Even if your plumbing is plastic, the water within can conduct electricity. Jensenius emphasizes that even outdoor puddles during a storm can pose a danger of electrocution if lightning strikes nearby.

Staying Safe Outdoors: Lightning Safety Tips

While being struck by lightning is rare, it’s crucial to take precautions when outdoors during a thunderstorm. Seek shelter indoors promptly and, if that’s not possible, find low ground away from tall objects like trees, poles, or fences. These structures can attract lightning, increasing the risk of being struck.

Seeking Shelter: Indoors Safety Measures

Once indoors, it’s essential to avoid using water and electrical appliances connected to plumbing. Refrain from using running water and stay away from electrical outlets until the storm has passed. Remember to wait at least 30 minutes after the storm ends before venturing back outside. These lightning safety measures can significantly reduce the risk to yourself and your loved ones.


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