Is it safe to take a shower during a thunderstorm?

There is a very small risk, which I estimate is conservatively about as dangerous as driving in a car for 15 miles:

About 15 people per year are shocked by lightning while using water in their house in the US:

Ron Holle, a former meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who tracks lightning injuries, estimates that 10 to 20 people in the United States are shocked annually while bathing, using faucets or handling appliances during storms.

About 12% of people struck by lightning are killed. Of 240 people struck by lightning in the US in 2012, 28 were killed. Let's assume that rate is the same for water related strikes.

So the average number of US citizens killed by lightning during water use is about 12%*15 = 1.8. So, out of a population of 312 million in the US, there were 1.8 deaths, or a rate of 0.5 deaths per 100 million people per year.

There were about 40 "thunderstorm days" in an average US state in 2010. This sounds high if you live in California or the northeast but the south and midwest have a lot more thunderstorms which pull the average up.

So, assuming there is one thunderstorm per thunderstorm day, the death rate is 0.013 deaths per 100 million people per thunderstorm. This is if you act normally.

Normal people wouldn't usually shower during a thunderstorm, because a) the storm usually isn't happening at the exact time when they want to shower, even on a "thunderstorm day", and b) they avoid showering during thunderstorms. In order to figure out how much you increase your risk by showering during a thunderstorm, we need to estimate both of these rates.

(a) to me seems reasonably estimated as the chance that a daily 20 minute period with a shower or other contact with water will overlap with a one-hour thunderstorm, my guess at the average length of a storm. This is roughly 1/24.

(b) is trickier -- how much less likely are normal people to shower or use water during a thunderstorm? I think this is somewhere between 10x and 100x. Lots of people have heard that it is dangerous to shower during a thunderstorm and will avoid it. But some storms start while people are showering, others might not be aware that a storm is happening, and others will just risk it. I'll say 50x to be conservative.

Putting all this together, you have about 50*24*0.013/(100 million) = 16 deaths per 100 million for someone who takes an extra shower during a thunderstorm.

The risk of death by driving a car was 1.1 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 2011. So, if you believe the assumptions above, the risk of death from taking a shower during a thunderstorm is about equivalent to 15 miles driven.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Are you afraid to take a shower during a thunderstorm?

#Science #Society #health


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Karen Scharnagle, Water is NOT the best conductor of electricity. Here is a list of better conductors: silver copper gold aluminum iron steel brass bronze mercury graphite dirty water concrete Although it's a poor insulator, at the bottom of this list, in its pure form, it surprisingly makes the list of insulators! glass rubber oil asphalt fiberglass porcelain ceramic quartz(dry) cotton(dry) paper(dry) wood plastic air diamond pure water
Nov 9, 2018 11:53PM
I never have and don't plan to. There is no good reason to plan your shower during a thunderstorm.
Oct 21, 2022 10:06PM
Mary Hargrove
I find it fascinating that the rate is 0.013 per million. Very high odds. I wonder what the odds are of two people being struck by lightening in the same family.
Aug 7, 2022 7:04PM
Jim Mascair
Riding a motorcycle in a thunderstorm is scary and ive felt St is electricity from lightning strikes. Sometimes there was no cover and I just tried to outrun a storm until I reached adequate shelter. I try not to shower or use any electrical appliances during storms.
Jun 4, 2022 6:33PM
Doris Dallaire
My mother always said don’t iron when there’s a thunderstorm. I poo-pooed that until I was in my own apartment ironing during a storm. Suddenly there was lighting that struck the iron, there was a spark and made the phone ring. I nearly jumped out of my skin! Wasn’t hurt because I happened to be putting a piece of ironed clothes on the nearby table but I will never iron or use the phone during a storm again!!
May 2, 2022 6:24PM
Toby O'Neil
Excellent point, Suzanne Usually storms pass by fairly quickly. Best to wait a few minutes to bathe or shower.
Aug 17, 2021 7:37PM
Toby O'Neil
Lol Veronics Moss,
Aug 17, 2021 7:33PM
I have lived in houses that were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that most of the plumbing was metal. I learned early that you did not use the plumbing while there was a lightening storm in the area. One house had lightening rods, the other did not. There was a house near me that was destroyed by lightening, even though it had lightening rods. There was another house that had lightening rods, but the occupant was hurt but lightening washing dishes. Most fortunate they had only minor injuries.
Feb 4, 2020 9:04PM
Carol Butler
Very good info.... I'll pack it away for a rainy day.
Jan 16, 2020 12:20AM
Mary Lu Lonsdale
I shower every day whether is thundering or not
Jun 20, 2019 5:04PM
Fred Zeb Fudpucker
I always thought we should have lightning rods in the country even in 1-story houses. Some 2-story houses had them years ago and tall barns always had them. With newer houses where the plumbing is all plastic, is the risk of being less now?
May 24, 2019 2:22PM
Fred Zeb Fudpucker
Jacky Pierce Friedman, oh, well, if you live in a trailer, all bets are off because you are a sitting duck for lightning strikes as far away as 25 miles. Better make sure it is grounded.
May 24, 2019 2:17PM
Dan Drinkall
I read somewhere that in N.A. the greater % of outdoor strikes is upon Men aged 40-50ish on Golf Courses ! The reason being that this age-group of Males are more stubborn than average, and don't want to waste their $ if there're only 17 Holes left ! ( After all, it's not like a 1/2 run movie when fire breaks out in the Theater, is it ? ) But then, how bad could that be if the Projector has been left running, eh ?
May 20, 2019 7:55PM
Elisabeth Koechli
I knew that, espevially if you are outdoors do NOT stand under. A tree during an electric storm,the tree becomes a lightning rod!!
May 19, 2019 7:22PM
David Holmes
Darlene Davidson, If all your pipework etc is correctly bonded to earth (ground) there should be little or no risk of any problem.
Mar 18, 2019 5:30PM
Michael Doherty
Seems to be a lot of estimating and dubious math in that explanation.
Mar 18, 2019 5:18PM

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