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Old 05-24-2009, 05:52 PM   #1
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Showering during Lightning storm?


You know someone had to bring this up, and being that summer is just about upon us, tis the season...

All the while growing up, I was warned by my mom not to shower, or even go near plumbing or electrical appliances during a lightning storm.
Now that I have grown up, and understand a lot more about electricity, I am asking myself whether or not this warning was just a myth, or is there some truth to it.

I Googled the phrase "struck by lightning while showering" and did come up with some hits, but they are few and far between, and mostly in the mid west where storms get a lot more severe than they do here in NJ.

Most, if not everyone I have ever brought up this question with looked at me as though I were an alien from a distant world.
I realize that in order to get enough current in your plumbing system to cause electrocution in the shower, the house would pretty much have to be hit directly.

I would also think the chances would be at least partially dependent on how well the building's electrical and other metallic parts are grounded.

What do you think?

FW

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Old 05-24-2009, 06:14 PM   #2
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Showering during Lightning storm?


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Originally Posted by KE2KB View Post
You know someone had to bring this up, and being that summer is just about upon us, tis the season...

All the while growing up, I was warned by my mom not to shower, or even go near plumbing or electrical appliances during a lightning storm.
Now that I have grown up, and understand a lot more about electricity, I am asking myself whether or not this warning was just a myth, or is there some truth to it.

I Googled the phrase "struck by lightning while showering" and did come up with some hits, but they are few and far between, and mostly in the mid west where storms get a lot more severe than they do here in NJ.

Most, if not everyone I have ever brought up this question with looked at me as though I were an alien from a distant world.
I realize that in order to get enough current in your plumbing system to cause electrocution in the shower, the house would pretty much have to be hit directly.

I would also think the chances would be at least partially dependent on how well the building's electrical and other metallic parts are grounded.

What do you think?

FW
I think you might want to understand current flow, ampacity, a little better:

1 milliamp Just a faint tingle.
5 milliamps Slight shock felt. Disturbing, but not painful. Most people can "let go." However, strong involuntary movements can cause injuries.
6-25 milliamps (women) and 9-30 milliamps (men) Painful shock. Muscular control is lost. This is the range where "freezing currents" start. It may not be possible to "let go."
50-150 milliamps Extremely painful shock, respiratory arrest (breathing stops), severe muscle contractions. Flexor muscles may cause holding on; extensor muscles may cause intense pushing away. Death is possible.
1,000-4,300 milliamps (1-4.3 amps) Ventricular fibrillation (heart pumping action not rhythmic) occurs. Muscles contract; nerve damage occurs. Death is likely.
10,000 milliamps (10 amps) Cardiac arrest and severe burns occur. Death is probable.
15,000 milliamps (15 amps) Lowest overcurrent at which a typical fuse or circuit breaker opens a circuit!

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Old 05-24-2009, 06:53 PM   #3
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Showering during Lightning storm?


Those facts don't really address my question. I do understand the effects of current through the body, but it is impossible to predict how much current will reach your body while in the shower if lightning should hit your house.

FW
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Old 05-24-2009, 07:07 PM   #4
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Showering during Lightning storm?


If your house have all copper pipes and grounded and bonded properly the lighting will take the shortest route from sky to ground.

Yeah I do live in Great Northen Plains area and from time to time we do get pretty ugly thunderstorm with alot of lighting as I mention again if properly bonded and grounded it is not a issue but any more facts that part I do not know if any one got hit by lighting in shower time so that is a open question.

BUT I heard story and I think I may have a confirmed case about the telephone lighting strike somewhere not far from me { how long ago it was that I think it was early 90's that the last time I heard }( I think Mythbuster try that one I don't recall if they got thru or what )

Myself I did took shower during thunderstorm few time yeah all my copper pipes are well bonded and there is no PVC in the water supply. it feel like monster Fardey cage but normally a common sense useally tell me not to take the shower during the thunderstorm due somecase it will turn worst than that.

Merci.Marc
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Old 05-24-2009, 07:17 PM   #5
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Showering during Lightning storm?


http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2005/03/m...gun_showe.html
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:14 PM   #6
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Showering during Lightning storm?


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What do you think?

FW
If there's no penalty for waiting out the storm, then wait.

Lightning is "above the law" (of physics). At least it sometimes seems to be.
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:02 PM   #7
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Showering during Lightning storm?


Even though you did not seem to answer ke2kb's question directly. But since you mentioned the various effects of electrical current through the body, it's in place to mention that in wet and other potentially hazardous locations the NEC requires installation of a GFCI outlet or Circuit Breaker! Those devices open the circuit when they sense 5 milliamps of leakage current. As opposed to 15,000 ma. The regular breaker is meant to protect against overloads not against leakage current!!!
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:14 PM   #8
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Showering during Lightning storm?


Yeah, that really doesn't help if the strike comes thru the metal plumbing of the house
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Old 05-24-2009, 11:43 PM   #9
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Showering during Lightning storm?


as yoyo implied, lightning is going to do what it wants to do. I have seen it hit the ground next to 80 foot tall trees; why?

Why the lightning travels the path it does is a lot of guess work and due to the extremely high voltages involved, impossible to replicate.

Bottom line;

you most likely could be killed while in the shower if lighting struck and passed through your house in any way.

is it common; no but neither is death by a komodo dragon but that doesn't mean I am going to go taunt one and chance being the next statistic either.

there are things in life you just don't chance of you do not have to.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:22 AM   #10
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Showering during Lightning storm?


Mythbusters did a thing on it once.

The bottom line was that even being near a conductor that gets struck by lightning is enough to induce currents high enough to kill you.

About the path it chooses... the conductive path in air actually forms relatively slowly before the strike itself. Tendrils of ionized air sprout up from the ground and down from the clouds, getting blown around in the breeze, hitting warm and cold pockets of air, etc. It's only once these growths touch that the actual bolt forms. It's why you see so many "dead ends" in lightning bolts... those were the paths that didn't get taken.
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:10 AM   #11
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Showering during Lightning storm?


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Originally Posted by Gigs View Post
Mythbusters did a thing on it once.

The bottom line was that even being near a conductor that gets struck by lightning is enough to induce currents high enough to kill you.

About the path it chooses... the conductive path in air actually forms relatively slowly before the strike itself. Tendrils of ionized air sprout up from the ground and down from the clouds, getting blown around in the breeze, hitting warm and cold pockets of air, etc. It's only once these growths touch that the actual bolt forms. It's why you see so many "dead ends" in lightning bolts... those were the paths that didn't get taken.
I guess that's also why they tell you if you feel your hair stand on end, or otherwise feel "funny", get down real quick.

FW
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:17 AM   #12
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Showering during Lightning storm?


FWIW, I'll stay out of the shower and away from my AC circuits when the thunder and lightning are simultaneous.

The one time we had what appeared to be lightning damage, nobody was here, so we don;t know for sure what happened. The AC circuits are all over-protected with surge arrestors (and a huge grounding electrode system) but it appears the current snuck in via co-ax from two sat dishes (TV and internet) and via an ethernet cable that runs from shop to house. At least everything attached to the co-ax and to both ends of the ethernet was fried whereas there was no damage to anything attached only to the AC circuits.
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:10 PM   #13
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Showering during Lightning storm?


I'm not sure about bathing during a thunderstorm, but I can tell you first hand that you can get "struck" through the telephone line.

When I was about 15-16, I was talking on an old phone-company style "Trimline" phone with a metal bottom on the base. I was talking to a friend about 5 miles away during a gnarly lightning storm. We were both watching and talking about the storm, and I was carrying the base while moving to a different room (to look out a different window, I suppose), and there was a very close strike. There was a very bright flash and in the same instant, I got quite a jolt through my fingers from the metal part of the base. I yelled "ahhh!" and dropped the phone. The call didn't disconnect though, and the phone was still fine. Friend on the other end said he heard a loud "pop" come through, then the "ahhh!"

Ever since that day, I've tried to avoid using a land line telephone during a lightning storm, unless it's the cordless variety.

I also prefer to wait to take a shower/bath if there's a severe storm. Why tempt fate? (And I'm probably more interested in watching the storm at that moment than I am in taking a bath.)
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:02 PM   #14
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Showering during Lightning storm?


The gonagle 5:10pm.; Since you mentioned that you are interested in watching thunderstorms unfold, I'm recommending a book on the great Electrical Engineer Nikola Tesla, who lived around the turn of the past century, in NYC. It's called simply "Tesla"! He, too was entranced every time there was a Thunderstorm with lightning strikes. Among other things, he was taken advantage of by Thomas Edison, who promised to pay him if he completed a certain project. When he was done, T. Edison didn't give him One Dollar for his work.
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:31 PM   #15
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Showering during Lightning storm?


Edison is quoted saying "genius is 1% inspriation, and 99% perspiration." He probably just hadn't met Tesla yet.

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