Never Do These 11 Things During a Thunderstorm

Each year, lightning strikes about 400 people in the United States. While roughly 90 percent of victims survive their injuries, it's still a good idea to avoid a brush with one of Mother Nature’s most powerful forces. You can start by taking the advice of the National Weather Service: “When thunder roars, go indoors!” But there's more to staying safe than just heading inside. The next time the sky starts flashing, remember this list of things you should not do during a thunderstorm, then take cover—and take care.

  1. Take a Bath or Shower

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    Don't take a bath during thunderstorm

    Never take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm. If lightning strikes near you, electrical currents could travel through the pipes in your home, putting you at risk of electrocution.

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  2. Sit on Concrete

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    Don't sit on concrete during thunderstorm

    It may not be immediately obvious, but you should not sit down or lean on concrete during a thunderstorm because of the  metal rebar or wire mesh that is almost always placed within concrete to strengthen it. Both are effective conductors of electricity.

    Related: These 30 Places Have the Worst Weather in America

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  3. Use a Landline

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    Don't use landline during thunderstorm

    While it is safe to use a cellphone (if it’s not plugged into a wall charger, that is) during a thunderstorm, it is not safe to use your landline. Lightning can travel through the phone lines—and if it does, you could be electrocuted.

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  4. Stand Out in the Open

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    Don't stand outside during thunderstorm

    You should never stand out in the open during a thunderstorm—inside an enclosed building is the safest place to be. But if you do get caught outdoors with no shelter in sight, crouch down low, with as little of your body as possible touching the ground. That way, you'll be less likely to be struck by lightning as it makes its way to the ground.

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  5. Stand Under a Tree

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    Don't stand under tree during thunderstorm

    Standing under a tree in a thunderstorm is extremely dangerous. Due to their height, trees are likely to attract lightning as it makes its way to the ground. A human being, however, conducts electricity better than a tree does, so if you're near a tree, the lightning could easily jump from the tree to you.

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  6. Stand Near a Window

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    Don't stand near window during thunderstorm

    Many windows, both old and new, are constructed of metal or have metal parts that can attract lightning. Keep well away from windows during a thunderstorm to avoid injury. 

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  7. Keep Your Computer Plugged In

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    Unplug computer during thunderstorm

    Anything that’s plugged into an outlet in your home is at risk of suffering damage from an electrical surge during thunderstorms. If an electrical storm has been forecast, unplug your computer, laptop, and other devices, and consider unplugging appliances. At the very least, plug appliances into a surge protector if they aren't already—but understand the surge protector probably can't stand up to a nearby lightning strike.

    Related: 10 Things Never to Plug into a Power Strip

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  8. Lie Down on the Ground

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    Don't lie on ground during thunderstorm

    You don’t want to be the tallest thing outdoors if you’re caught out in a thunderstorm—but in your efforts to make yourself shorter, don't make the mistake of lying down on the ground. When lightning strikes, electrical currents can travel on top of the ground in excess of 100 feet, and by stretching out on the ground, you're making yourself a wider target.

    Related: The Strangest Weather Events in US History

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  9. Wash the Dishes

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    Don't wash dishes during thunderstorm

    You shouldn’t wash dishes during a thunderstorm for the same reason you shouldn’t bathe during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through pipes, electrify your faucet, and cause injury. This is one hazard that's easy to avoid: The dishes can wait.

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  10. Use Small Appliances

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    Don't use appliances during thunderstorm

    A thunderstorm is not the time to do the ironing, blow-dry your hair, or take out the electric mixer to whip up a batch of meringue. Any appliance plugged into an electrical outlet could carry a current should lightning strike, and you could be harmed if you're handling, or even just very near, that appliance at the time.

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  11. Do Laundry

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    Don't do laundry during thunderstorm

    Your washer and dryer are plugged into the wall, which is the first strike against them. For the second strike: They are metal, so lightning can run through them the same way it can your toaster or blow dryer. You definitely do not want to be near your washer and dryer during a thunderstorm, so give yourself a break from the laundry and curl up with a good book instead.

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  12. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!