About 40 million lightning strikes hit the bottom within the United States yearly.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit tutorial medical heart. Advertising on our web site helps help our mission. We don’t endorse non-Cleveland Clinic services or products. Policy

But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s lower than 1 in 1 million probability of being struck by lightning instantly or not directly. While uncommon (and even with 90% of lightning strikes being nonfatal), being struck by lightning can nonetheless result in critical accidents and even lifelong debilitation. And in case you assume you’re insulated from a lightning strike indoors, assume once more: One-third of all lightning accidents happen indoors.

For occasion, is it secure to bathe in a thunderstorm? Can you utilize a landline phone whereas indoors when it’s thundering outdoors? And what concerning the dishes left within the sink — ought to they wait till after the storm has handed?

We’ve all heard recommendation on these topics at one level or one other, however what’s reality and fiction? Emergency doctor Christopher Bazzoli, MD, FAWM, DiMM, solutions a few of these hanging questions in order that we are able to all be a bit safer in our properties.

Can you bathe safely throughout a thunderstorm?

The concept that you simply’re protected against a lightning strike since you’re indoors would possibly make you’re feeling secure sufficient to take a bathe throughout a thunderstorm … however you’d be shockingly improper.

When a thunderstorm is raging, lightning can strike a home and journey by way of its plumbing to strike you, making showering throughout a thunderstorm an unsafe apply. This is true even when you’ve got plastic pipes as a result of water is an efficient conductor of electrical energy.

“The current can easily travel along those pipes, and when it’s looking for a way out at the end of the line, it can jump and strike a person from the showerhead or faucet,” explains Dr. Bazzoli.

That’s additionally true in case you’re bathing, washing dishes or washing your arms — all unsafe actions to do throughout a thunderstorm.

“The good news is that conduction strikes in a home are typically far less severe than strikes outside because electricity needs to travel farther and has more opportunities to divide and dissipate in other directions when you’re inside,” he provides.

What occurs if lightning strikes your home?

When lightning strikes your home, it’s going to comply with the trail of least resistance. That means it may well journey alongside piping and electrical traces in an effort to achieve its vacation spot. That makes interacting with objects which can be plugged into the wall (like landline telephones) and together with your plumbing unsafe behaviors to do throughout a thunderstorm.

“When thunder roars, go indoors and hangout with a book or engage in an activity that’s not connecting you to electrical and plumbing systems,” advises Dr. Bazzoli.

When is it secure to bathe throughout a storm?

To defend your self from a lightning strike, chorus from showering for at the very least half-hour after the final thunder roll you hear.

“The most dangerous times for a lightning strike are immediately before and immediately after the storm,” says Dr. Bazzoli. “Lightning strikes can commonly extend 10 miles out from a thundercloud. So, if you’re able to hear thunder, you’re still within that strike distance.”

What in case you’re tenting?

If you’re out within the woods or the nation and staying in a tent or primitive shelter, you’ll need to discover a extra protecting resolution by searching for shelter inside a constructing or automobile. A tent gives no safety from lightning, and distributes the present to the bottom inconsistently, permitting the electrical energy to leap by way of the house.

You additionally need to ensure you’re not standing below any tall objects like bushes as a result of this can be a widespread approach of being struck. If you could have an RV, which are inclined to have their very own electrical and plumbing methods, you need to ensure you comply with the identical guidelines you’d in case you had been within a house: Don’t bathe throughout a storm and steer clear of wired electrical methods.

What in case you reside in an condo constructing or advanced — are you secure from lightning?

But I reside in an condo advanced or high-rise condo constructing — shouldn’t I be secure?

You could also be improper to assume so, too.

Commercial buildings are typically taller however usually have some lightning mitigation system in place like lightning rods. But the identical rule applies to bigger buildings and condo complexes as a home: If struck by lightning, it can discover its strategy to a grounding level and something in that path of journey may be in danger.

“In a larger apartment building or complex, there are more avenues for the current to dissipate through and find its way to lower charge grounds,” clarifies Dr. Bazzoli. “There’s less risk in a big building high rise, but that doesn’t mean there’s no risk.”

How does a lightning strike have an effect on you?

“In taking the path of least resistance, openings and orifices like your eyes, ears and mouth are easier entryways for lightning to travel through than going through a thick bone like your skull,” Dr. Bazzoli continues.

That makes damage to your eyes, ears and mouth extra widespread if you’re struck by lightning. And you may be struck by lightning instantly or not directly in case you come into contact with a floor or object that’s been struck. That’s why you by no means need to lie down in a thunderstorm since you enhance the quantity of floor space you’re involved with after which enhance the chance of present touring by way of you.

If you’re struck by lightning, you’ll be able to expertise various accidents that embody:

Lightning additionally heats up the air it passes by way of to greater than 50,000 levels Fahrenheit (27,760 levels Celsius) — five times hotter than the surface of the sun — so, it’s no marvel these accidents are sometimes extreme.

“Sometimes, a lightning strike can have so much current that if you’re wet, it may vaporize the liquid on your skin into steam and superheat it, which can lead to steam burns,” states Dr. Bazzoli.

What to do in case you or another person have been struck by lightning

If you or somebody have been struck by lightning, an important factor you are able to do is get to security after which name 911 or your native emergency companies hotline.

Despite the widespread saying, lightning can strike the identical place greater than as soon as, and since lightning can short-circuit your inside electrical methods that enable your coronary heart to beat and your lungs to breathe, it’s important that you simply search assist instantly and get these methods going as quickly as attainable.

“Once you call 911, if it’s safe to do so and if you’re trained, initiating CPR and using a defibrillator can save lives,” says Dr. Bazzoli. “Fatalities from lightning strikes are often happening because they knock out our respiratory drive and/or cardiac pacemaking, so you’re going to want to do chest compressions and provide rescue breathing to a person who’s been struck while those systems are shorted out, so to speak.”

At the tip of the day, if it’s storming outdoors and/otherwise you hear thunder, you’ll be able to most likely afford to place your bathe on maintain till the climate clears.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *