5 Things You Should Never Do at Home During a Thunderstorm

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Lightning above a house during a thunderstorm
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When thunder rumbles outside your home, there are a few things you should immediately avoid doing.

A clap of thunder means dangerous lightning is within 10 miles of you. And contrary to what you might think, being inside your home does not necessarily keep you from being electrocuted.

Not even several miles of apparent distance can promise you 100% safety from lightning. But taking precautions and avoiding these risky habits can help keep you safe.

1. Shower or bathe

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A rainy night in might sound like a great time for a bath, but it’s actually risky during a thunderstorm.

If lightning were to strike any of the home’s plumbing, that electricity could travel and electrocute whoever is in the shower. This is a risk even if your pipes are plastic, since water conducts electricity. “It is best to avoid any contact with plumbing and running water during a lightning storm to reduce your risk of being struck,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

2. Do the dishes

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A lightning storm is a great reason to avoid this chore. Water’s ability to conduct electricity means it should be avoided as much as possible when there is a chance of lightning.

Although it may seem like a small precaution to take, a third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors. So, better to be safe than sorry.

3. Use electronics

Man on a computer and talking on the phone
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Any electronics that are plugged into an outlet can get fried if lightning strikes near a power line. It doesn’t matter whether or not the lightning struck directly near your house. A lightning strike on or near a power line can send a surge of electricity through your outlets and to your devices.

Electronics aren’t built to handle that level of electricity. That includes computers, toasters, washing machines, corded phones and other electronics you may have plugged in at home. Invest in surge protectors to protect your valuable devices.

The danger is exacerbated if you’re touching one of these devices when lightning strikes. Using electronics that aren’t plugged into anything, such as your smartphone, however, is considered safe.

4. Go near windows, doors, porches or balconies

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If your home has a gazebo, porch, balcony or other open structures, stay away during a storm. These may seem innocent enough, but don’t provide the protection you might hope for.

Windows, doors, porches and balconies may have conductive metal within them — whether those are support beams, railings or even just screws and bolts.

5. Touch concrete

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Don’t lean on concrete walls or lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Concrete may not stand out as an electrical conductor, but the metal bars and beams that often support it, and wires that run beneath it, certainly do. If lightning strikes the concrete you’re on, that could mean trouble.

Despite concrete not being a renowned conductor, electricity can still move through it. This is more risky when it is wet or made with certain materials.

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