Sure, it’s common knowledge to take refuge inside when you hear thunder, but did you know that lightning can still shock you if it strikes and sends electricity through the pipes and water in your home?
According to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service (NWS), in order to stay safe in your home during a storm, you need to stay away from anything that conducts electricity, which includes both wires and the plumbing, Accuweather reports.
“Certainly, showers would be dangerous….It would be dangerous to be washing your hands or washing dishes,” Jensenius said. “Just avoid those any time you can hear thunder.”
But it’s not just metal pipes that should take all the blame. Since the impurities in tap water can also conduct electricity, plastic pipes won’t protect you from these dangers.
“Water can conduct electricity as well,” Jensenius said. “We see that on the outside where lightning strikes something, and if there are puddles around, it can easily electrocute somebody nearby the puddle.”
However, how your house is grounded changes how badly a lightning strike could affect your plumbing.
“When a house is built, it should be built so that when your electricity comes in, it’s grounded to your house,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. “If your house is grounded to separate rods that are basically stuck down into the ground, then that’s a bit safer because nothing is attached to the plumbing.”
To find out whether your home’s electrical system is grounded to the plumbing system or not, contact an electrician.
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