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Thunderstorm Safety: Why Avoiding Showers and Dishes is Crucial

Thunderstorm Safety: Why Avoiding Showers and Dishes is Crucial

When thunder roars, lightning follows suit, and danger lurks nearby. The National Weather Service warns that thunderstorms can strike within 10 miles of your location. Lightning, in particular, poses unexpected risks, including during daily activities like showering, bathing, or washing dishes. Understanding the hazards is crucial to staying safe during thunderstorms. Let’s explore the precautions you should take to protect yourself.

1. Avoid Water During Thunderstorms:
Lightning can travel through plumbing, making it risky to use water-related appliances during a thunderstorm. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly advises against showering, bathing, washing dishes, or even washing hands when thunderstorms are nearby. Although plastic pipes may pose a lower risk than metal pipes, it’s best to steer clear of all water contact to minimize the chance of lightning strikes.

2. Stay Indoors, But Mind the Risks:
Seeking shelter indoors is a wise move during a thunderstorm, but there are still precautions to keep in mind. Avoid porches, balconies, windows, and doors during the storm. Furthermore, lying down on concrete floors or leaning against concrete walls is ill-advised due to the risk of lightning grounding through such surfaces.

3. Beware of Electrical Appliances:
Using electrical appliances connected to outlets during a thunderstorm can be dangerous. The CDC advises against using computers or other electronic equipment during such times. Corded phones should be avoided, while cell phones and cordless phones are considered safe as long as they are not connected to a charger.

4. Understanding the Thunderclap:
Thunder is the audible result of lightning striking the air, heating the surrounding air up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, far hotter than the sun’s surface. The rapid cooling and contraction of the air create the sound wave we perceive as thunder.

5. Various Lightning Risks:
Direct strikes are often fatal, but lightning can cause a range of injuries, including blunt trauma, skin lesions, burns, and damage to the brain, muscles, and eyes. Even touching a car or metal object struck by lightning can lead to harm. Lightning can also travel through the ground, bounce off objects, or stream upwards, heightening the risks.

6. Calculating Lightning Distance:
While you can estimate the distance between you and the lightning by counting the seconds between the flash and the sound of thunder, it’s crucial to do so from a safe location. Divide the seconds by five, where one second equals approximately one-fifth of a mile.

7. Thunderstorm-Related Incidents:
Most lightning-related injuries and deaths occur outdoors, especially during summer afternoons and evenings. Approximately 180 people are injured, and 10% of lightning strike victims die each year. Those working outside, particularly in the Southeastern United States, face the highest risk, with Florida and Texas reporting the most lightning-related deaths.

8. Outdoor Safety Measures:
If you find yourself caught outside during a thunderstorm, avoid lying on the ground as lightning can travel through the earth’s surface. Seek shelter indoors immediately, as no outside location is entirely safe during a thunderstorm. Avoid tall trees and, as a last resort, crouch down in a ball-like position to reduce the risk of being struck.

Thunderstorms can be deadly, with lightning presenting unforeseen dangers even within the comfort of our homes. It is essential to take precautions seriously, avoid water use during thunderstorms, and seek proper shelter to protect yourself and your loved ones from the unpredictable forces of nature.

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