Safety during thunderstorms?

We just had a nasty thunderstorm with high winds and hail blow through here, and I was wondering about a few things. During a bad storm and it’s aftermath (continuing rain/thunder/lightning), when is it safe to do the following things?

During the storm, at the tail end of the storm, or well after the storm is over.

Use a plugged in telephone
Use a cordless telephone
Use a cellular telephone
Take a shower
Walk outside with an umbrella up (assuming it has a metal tip)
drive a car
Run around outside naked :smiley:
Also, if your appliances are not on surge protectors, should you unplug them? I always wonder about these things during severe weather, and I"m finally asking.


Use a plugged in telephone - well after the storm
Use a cordless telephone - anytime
Use a cellular telephone - anytime
Take a shower - well after the storm
Walk outside with an umbrella up (assuming it has a metal tip) - well after the storm
drive a car - anytime
Run around outside naked - after the storm, at night, out of sight of the neighbors

Also surge supressors are not lightning arrestors. If you absolutely cannot afford to replace or repair a piece of equipment, it’s advisable to unplug it. The chances of serious damage are small, but definitely nonzero, and a surge supressor will not protect anything in case of a direct strike on your power lines.

Actually, during the storm is ok. The wires that connect your phone are so small that they would fry if any lightening would to try to get to you.

Now pipes are a different story. Big conduters especially if your drains are iron. If they’re PVC then that fine, but big hunking metal pipes leadin to you standing in a puddle of water? YIKES!!

Better to hold up a 1-Iron. Not even God can hit one of those!! (Old golfer joke)

No. People *have been killed by lightning strikes through the telephone lines.

From the NOAA website.

Bolding mine.

Great replies, very educational. These storms here in NC are really wicked, so these questions just popped into my head.

One thing I wonder then- why don’t they make umbrellas out of wood instead of metal? The vast majority of the ones I’ve seen have metal throughout them, including the tip. Talk about scary. And most of our rainstorms here include a lot of lightning. I see people walking around with umbrellas up all the time in those storms. Weird.

Trees are made of wood, and they get struck all the time. Really, you’re no more likely to get struck carrying a metal umbrella than one made of wood, or most anything else. The greatest factor is your height (including the tip of your umbrella) above the ground in comparison to other objcts around you. Lightning doesn’t always hit the tallest object, but it tends to do so.

Anytime you’re talking about lightning not being able to travel over certain wires because the current-carrying capacity is too low, think about all the air (which has REALLY low capacity) it just travelled through.

Just how long after a storm has passed is safe? I’ve experienced a lot of lightning storms, many while parked on top of a very tall hill and watching in my car. I can’t remember ever seeing a bolt of lightning happen that long after it passes…also, when is someone going to get some video of ball lightning? I’ve never witnessed it directly, but I did once see the sky turn bright green for 4 seconds or so, which could have come from ball lightning I guess, but admittedly probably came from a transformer blowing up, or something. (I saw that happen once too, it glowed blue and hummed loudly for about the same amount of time, then silently exploded in a bright flash of white light.

You can make your own ball lightning in your microwave oven. Do be careful if you decide to actually try this. It’s relatively safe, but parts can get very hot.