Most people understand the dangers of avoiding outdoor swimming pools when they see a bolt of lightning in the sky. Not everyone knows that taking a nice bubble bath inside your house during a major storm can also present a serious threat to your safety.
Lightning flashes across the sky during thunderstorms. Once you hear thunder or see a flash of lightning, you could immediately be in danger of being struck. A direct lightning strike can kill a person instantly, while contact with an item struck by lightning can also cause severe injury. People who have a firsthand encounter with a lightning bolt can experience health problems for years after the incident.
Lightning doesn't stay in the sky; it often strikes Earth, attracted to so-called "lightning rods" like flagpoles or metal fences. Bodies of water are especially susceptible to lightning, which is why lifeguards are taught to immediately evacuate a swimming pool when it begins to rain, even if there is no immediate sign of lightning. Lightning can also endanger people in indoor swimming pools, especially if they are touching the edge of the pool or have their feet in contact with the pool's bottom.
The danger of being struck by lightning inside your bathtub or shower during a thunderstorm is more than an urban legend. Governmental agencies like the New York Department of Health advise that when a thunderstorm hits, you stay away from your bathtub. Even without water in it -- which would present a serious threat of shock, were you taking a bath at the time -- a tub's metal pipes can attract a surge of electricity. Electricity can enter your house via those metal pipes.
Other tips for staying safe in your house during a thunderstorm include staying away from your toilet, sink and shower. You'll also want to stay away from radios, telephones, computers and other electronics. Also, avoid items with electrical cords. Turn off your electricity, gas and water, and have some disaster provisions available, such as a flashlight, food, water, a first-aid kit and a battery-operated radio. You're much safer being indoors than outdoors.