Is it safe to take a shower during a thunderstorm?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by wegs, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. wegs She knew how to fly all along... Valued Senior Member

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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I don't live in the South anymore.

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    If I was in the shower I wouldn't get out. If a large thunderstorm was obviously right over my house I probably wouldn't pick that moment to take a shower.
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    are you really that dirty?
     
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  7. wegs She knew how to fly all along... Valued Senior Member

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    Lol Good advice

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    I should follow it but I have taken the risk during a storm, always a bit nervous yet believing that getting struck by lightning in a shower, is little more than a myth.

    But, I won’t be doing that anymore.
     
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  8. wegs She knew how to fly all along... Valued Senior Member

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    You don’t take showers?

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    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well, it is little more than a myth. As far as I know, it has never happened. It could, of course, happen - but the odds of you getting struck by a meteor because you _weren't_ in the shower are arguably higher.
     
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  10. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    most likely, not as often as do you
    ..........
    The thing is that I much prefer the scent of human sweat much more'n anything the chemical.perfume industry can come up with.
    and
    our skin is covered with beneficial bacteria whose best interest is served by keeping us healthy
    so
    respect where respect is due
     
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I've wondered about this myself.

    There are pipes connected to metal taps and so on in the shower. For a lightning strike to get you, it would need to get to the water pipes that feed into the shower somehow. If it did that, the question is how it would get there and where it would go next.

    It might depend in part on whether the pipes feeding the shower are metal or plastic or rubber or whatever. Chances are good that there's metal in there. If the pipes became electrified, then the taps and/or shower head could become electrified too. Then the water would increase the conductivity of the air, thereby providing a better conducting path through your body to the ground, which would Not Be Good.

    My suspicion, however, is that those metal pipes probably lead back into the ground outside the house somewhere, and the charge from the lightning will probably prefer to find its way to the real ground (i.e. the Earth) by direct conduction through the metal, rather than taking a detour through a less-conductive human body. But then there's the issue that there's a LOT of charge flowing in a direct lightning strike, so even though the majority might get to ground by direct conduction through the pipes, there might still be enough following alternative paths to be a worry.

    I'm actually not sure what lightning does when it hits a house, under normal circumstances. Obviously, it conducts to ground somehow, but I wonder what the most common path for it to do that is.

    Can anybody help?
     
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  12. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    .............................................
    old story
    Thor hates the proud ones, so always attacks the tallest things first.
     
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  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Wiring and copper water supply pipes.

    The reason that electrocution is a possibility is the sheer energy of the lightning strike. A typical lightning strike is carrying around 30,000 amps. Let's say it hits the roof and the nearest available return is the shower supply pipe. Let's further assume that the conductivity of the shower supply pipe is .0002 ohms per foot; similar to 2 gauge wire (similar cross sectional area of copper.) The current will find its way to ground, which is the feed pipe bringing the water into the home. Let's say this point is 40 feet from the shower head. That's .006 ohms total resistance. 30,000 amps times .006 is 180 volts.

    So in the shower you will see a potential difference of 180 volts between the showerhead and the nearest _other_ grounded conductor - the drainpipe in the shower (if it's made of metal; lately most are not.) If there's a continuous path from showerhead to body to drainpipe you could see that potential across your body.

    That's the bad news. The good news is that it lasts only milliseconds, and your body won't make a very good path from showerhead to ground unless you are grabbing it at the time. Which is one reason that this has never happened in the US - as far as anyone knows.
     
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  14. wegs She knew how to fly all along... Valued Senior Member

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    Gotcha, I see. Sweating is healthy for sure, but I like a clean scent.

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  15. wegs She knew how to fly all along... Valued Senior Member

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    https://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/15/health/15real.html

    ''Shocked'' doesn't mean killed, but still. I'm going to wait for a thunderstorm to pass over, before taking a shower. Just in case.

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  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Keep in mind that the article said that people were shocked "bathing, using faucets or handling appliances" during storms, rather than solely being in the shower. (I've been shocked in a shower as well, but that's because it was an outdoor shower that we set up while our house was being de-molded - and there was no storm at the time.)
     
  17. wegs She knew how to fly all along... Valued Senior Member

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    Right, yea...that's true. So, it's a pipe issue, I guess? If you're touching a metal faucet or pipe during your shower, or if you're doing dishes in a metal sink, etc...then you could get shocked.

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    What did it feel like when you were shocked? Did it hurt?
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Right. 99% of the time, the shock comes when you are touching a metal pipe. (Specifically you are touching two things - a metal pipe with a potential and a ground.)
    Definitely! It was unpleasant.
     

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