Every grade school kid knows to seek shelter during a thunderstorm, but did you know that washing dishes or taking a shower can be dangerous during a storm? It turns out that lightning can still shock you through the pipes in your house.
According to John Jensenius, a lightening safety specialist for the National Weather Service, during a storm, you need to stay away from anything that conducts electricity. That includes both wires and plumbing.
“Certainly showers would be dangerous. It would be dangerous to be washing your hands or washing dishes,” Jensenius said. “Just avoid those any time you hear thunder.”
Anything that plugs into a wall is also dangerous. That means avoid using dishwashers and washing machines, too.
If you have plastic pipes in your home, you’re still at risk. Impurities in tap water can also conduct electricity.
“Water can conduct electricity as well,” Jensenius said. “We see that on the outside where lighting strikes something and if there are puddles around, it can easily electrocute somebody nearby the puddle.”
One factor in determining how in danger your plumbing puts you during a storm is whether your electricity is grounded to your house. If your house is grounded so that separate rods are stuck in the ground, and not attached to the plumbing, then that’s safer.
If you’re unsure about how your electricity is grounded, call an electrician.
So there you have it. The next time you hear low grumbles coming from the sky, you have permission to skip out on chores. Light a candle, read a book and relax — the experts insist.