When it comes to thunderstorm safety, can you really play a get-out-of-dishes-free card if there’s lightning outside? We’ve got the details.
Nope, Don’t Do the Dishes
Although it might sound like an urban legend, it turns out it’s true that you should avoid using any plumbing during a thunderstorm. Doing the dishes, taking a shower or even just washing your hands can prove to be dangerous. If your house or plumbing isn’t properly grounded, the electricity from a lightning strike can move through pipes and water, which can shock you.
“Stay away from things that conduct electricity within the home,” says John Jensenius, lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service, in a report posted by AccuWeather. “That would include both the wires and the plumbing.” Keep the water off any time you hear thunder, he advises.
Jensenius also counters the idea that plastic pipes make it safe to use your home’s plumbing during a storm. “Water can conduct electricity as well,” he says in the AccuWeather post.
Don’t Use Appliances, Either
Additionally, using (or even touching) any corded appliance, such as your stand mixer, toaster or blender, can be unsafe during a storm. That goes for televisions, landlines and computers, too. According to Jensenius, anything plugged into the wall or that also has connections to your home’s plumbing—like your dishwasher—can potentially be dangerous.
Put Safety First
Because lightning can strike at a distance of up to 10 miles away, if you can hear thunder, you should take precautions. When it comes to doing the dishes or cooking during a thunderstorm, your best bet is to wait until the storm has passed. When it is safe to run the water again, you can practice these tricks to hand-washing dishes.