Can Lightning Strike You In a House? What You Need To Know!
There is a saying in thunderstorm-prone areas that when the thunder roars, stay indoors. What’s more, virtually all the official recommendations and policies suggest that if you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, the best thing to do is to immediately try and move indoors. So, does being indoors make you completely safe during a thunderstorm? Can lightning strike you while inside your house? Yes, it can. Let’s find out just how stacked the odds are.
Safer Doesn’t Mean Safe
Everyone agrees that being indoors during a thunderstorm is safer than being outdoors, but that doesn’t mean that being indoors during a bad storm is necessarily completely safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in three lightning-related injuries occurs while inside a house. That is a lot of injuries.
Indoor injuries from lightning happen when the electrical discharge from a nearby lightning strike enters the home. The electricity generated during a thunderstorm enters the home on various pathways and then can jump out and strike an unsuspecting person.
Despite the high number of occurrences, these injuries are not evenly distributed. There are areas of the home that are much more dangerous than others during a thunderstorm.
Indoor Areas To Avoid During a Storm
There are some areas in a home that are much more dangerous than others when it comes to lightning. Electricity travels along very predictable pathways. Electricity loves to travel via water, copper, and other metals as well as through cables and cords that already carry electricity. Those pathways highlight the areas of a home to avoid during a storm. Take care to avoid anywhere with pipes. You do not want to shower during a storm, and you don’t want to be doing the dishes. Lightning can race along the pipes and strike a person at the end of a faucet.
You also do not want to be near clusters of electronics. Stay away from your TV and cable box. Avoid using large computers or any electronics that are plugged into a wall. A lightning strike can leap from nearby outlets and even through electronics and strike a person.
People should also take care to avoid windows and doors. Do not be outside on a porch, even a covered porch. Lightning can flash through glass and screens and cause injuries just from a nearby strike. Some people like to watch storms through the window, thinking they are safe but standing near a window during a storm exponentially increases the risk of injury.
Old recommendations reminded people to never use a corded phone during a storm for the same reason. Few people use landlines anymore, but if you are one of the people that still use a landline to make your calls, do not use those phones during a storm.
The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is in an interior room away from pipes, major electronics, and windows.
Even if you follow all of the guidelines and avoid all of the most common things that attract lightning indoors, there are still the occasional freak accidents. Extremely powerful lightning bolts can enter a home through the roof and travel all the way through the home unaided by traditional methods. These strikes are very rare, but they can be incredibly dangerous. Lightning bolts that blast through a home’s roof can cause fires and structural collapse that can lead to injury and even death. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about that.
The Silver Lining
If all of these warnings are scaring you, try not to worry too much. The good news is while lightning strikes do enter the home from time to time, they are rarely fatal. In fact, lightning fatalities have been steadily declining for years. Only 11 people were killed by lightning strikes in 2021 in the entire United States. As awareness and education on the issue of lightning continue to be hammered home in the United States, that number is hopefully expected to decline even further until it is near zero.
Dying from a lightning strike is still extremely uncommon, even if being injured is not.
Often people who are injured from lightning strikes indoors suffer only minor injuries. Usually, these events are scarier than anything else but rarely result in serious or lasting injury.
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Is it possible to be struck by lightning in your home? Yes. But these events are still extremely rare, and even when they occur, they hardly ever result in a fatality. There are things you can do to further mitigate the risk of being hit by lightning while inside the home. At the end of the day, being indoors is still far safer than being outdoors, and that goes for any storm, anywhere, at any time.
Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock