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Author Topic: Don't shower during lightning
Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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As a child, I've always been told to not shower when it's lightning out.

But is it true that lightning during a shower can kill you as much as playing in the rain?

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Joseph Z

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Stoneage Dinosaur
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Most websites on the topic advise not to bathe during a thunderstorm as lightning can travel through the metal plumbing.

I haven't been able to find any cases of people being killed by lightning whilst showering, but there is a snopes page on lightning killing people talking on the telephone.

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"You learn something new every day if you're not careful" - Wilf Lunn

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Winter Morning
Deck the Malls


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Here's what Uncle Cecil of the Straight Dope had to say about the topic of lightening on August 24, 2004. He doesn't particularly address the showering issue, but gives interesting statistics.

And here's a press release from the Red Cross about Lightning Preparedness week, which includes a warning about showering.

I wonder about folks with all non-conductive piping and fittings, like my PVC piping. I probably wouldn't risk it, or my father will come back from the dead to yell at me.

Morning

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Zorro
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Stoneage Dinosaur:
I haven't been able to find any cases of people being killed by lightning whilst showering, but there is a snopes page on lightning killing people talking on the telephone.

Along similar lines (no pun intended), once, before hubby and I lived togetehr, when he still had dial-up, he was online during a thunder and lightning storm. He went to the bathroom and came back to find that lightning had travelled through the phone lines and completely fried his modem! [Eek!] So we make it a habit to log off, even though we have DSL now, every time there's thunder and lightning.

--------------------
"Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary!"
-John Keating, "Dead Poets Society"

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Along similar lines (no pun intended), once, before hubby and I lived togetehr, when he still had dial-up, he was online during a thunder and lightning storm. He went to the bathroom and came back to find that lightning had travelled through the phone lines and completely fried his modem! So we make it a habit to log off, even though we have DSL now, every time there's thunder and lightning.
Hehe, I've lost a couple of modems that way. It's usually not a direct strike, just spikes on the network caused by the power surges in the air. A direct hit usually spreads debris all over the room.

Logging off will not make any difference, the lightning does not care about details such as the state of a bunch of transistors. If you want to protect your equipment, disconnect (not just switching off) it, both from the phone jack and from the power outlets.

I have too much stuff, it's too much work disconnecting it all, so I rely on luck and my insurance company.

Very important: Do NOT start unplugging stuff when the thunder has started! The last thing you want to hold when the lighning strikes is the plug it comes through.

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/Troberg

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Signora Del Drago
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^^Me during a lightning storm. [Eek!]

Zorro, DSL still comes through a telephone line, so the same thing could happen. It is advised that you unplug from both the telephone line and the electricity line during a T-storm, but I don't do it and don't know anyone who does. Maybe we should all start doing that. The only thing I do is shut down the monster, but it is still plugged into both lines.

Folks, I do not have a cite for the following, so you'll just have to take my word.

1. Several years ago, a 14-year-old boy in Oklahoma was killed by lightning while showering.

2. About fifteen years ago, lightning struck a house about twenty blocks from me and fried the television set. The same day, my husband and I had returned from shopping about the time a storm started, and I was afraid to try to run into the house, so we were sitting in the car. Lightning struck the corner of the house two doors down. Scary.

3. Lightning stuck a house in OK City about five years ago and blew the toilet out of the floor, among other things. And my husband wonders why I'm afraid to go potty during a T-storm! [Razz] When I just can't wait any longer and have to go, I always tell him if I end up dead with my bare bottom exposed to the world to please cover it up before he calls for help. [lol]

4. My friend, Jim, was killed by a lightning strike while out in the field. He was in the process of bringing his tractor back to the barn. That was about thirty years ago.

5. When I was fourteen years old, I was washing dishes when lightning struck the corner of our fence at the back of the lot. It knocked me away from the sink and scared the @*&# out of me. Until then, I had not been afraid during a T-storm.

One of the OK City meteorologists said that using a cordless telephone is okay as long as you aren't standing right by the base. This site http://lightning.kiwiki.homeip.net/ also states cordless telephone use is safe.
quote:
When inside avoid the following:
Use of the telephone (cellular and cordless telephone use is safe)
taking a shower or bath
washing your hands
doing dishes
(basically anything to do with water)
any contact with conductive surfaces with exposure to the outside such as metal door or window frames, electrical wiring, telephone wiring, cable TV wiring, plumbing, etc.
using electrical appliances that plug into the wall
being near windows and doors in general

It is also advised to turn off the A/C and to do a lot of things I'm almost sure most of us, including me, don't do. I usually end up in the middle of my bed, curled into a fetal position, hugging a pillow, with a quilt pulled close around me and over my head until it's over. Yes, I'm chicken. When it comes to lightning, anyway.

ETA: Oh, no! I was spanked by Troberg. Ouchie! Now, cut that out.

I, too, rely on luck, instead of unplugging, when it comes to lightning. Hope the luck doesn't run out for any of us.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I thought... didn't Mythbusters challenge this myth? I forget the outcome, but I'm thinking it came up confirmed or at least plausible. Apologies if I'm remembering wrong. Anyway, growing up in tornado alley, my dad would holler at me like crazy if I even thought about taking a shower on a gloomy cloudy day.

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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My ex and I lost a couple of modems and a couple of answering machines to lightning-related power spikes during the late 1980's and early 1990's.

As a child, my mom once touched a light switch at the same time a lightning-related power surge occurred. She felt a huge jolt and her tongue swelled up.

Ever seen/heard a transformer get hit by lightning? Very dramatic. I love storms, though.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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vfwchick
Deck the Malls with Boughs of Money


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My parents never let us shower, bathe or anything else when it's storming, so I have carried it over to my kids. I think the old adage "better safe than sorry" works here.
I always unplug my laptop if it even looks like a storm. Everything else (computer wise) is on surge protectors. Now I am wondering if that is good enough?
vfw *I love a good storm too* chick

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If you can't stand behind our troops, please, feel free to stand in front of them.

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CitizenAim
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Discovery Health ran a special a couple of years ago about a girl who had been struck by lightning on 3 different occasions. She was really tall, but all three times, she was doing things in which her height would not have been factored in. I think the first time she was laying on the ground trying to grab something under her house, the second time she was indoors doing laundry and had touched the metal washing maching, and I don't remember the third time but it was something equally bizarre.

As for telephones and showers... I experienced a telephone line being hit by lightning first hand. When I was 9, I was talking on the phone in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. I didn't hear any thunder outside so not only did I think it was safe, but so did my parents who were home (they were all over the "no phone or bath during a storm" rule). Out of nowhere, I heard this eardrum-shattering clapping sound inside the phone, but I couldn't seem to let the phone go and it took a lot of effort to get it away from my ear. Aside from being very frazzled for a while after that, I was fine.

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Purple Iguana, I certainly hope it came up plausible. If not, that boy died because of a "myth."

Lainie, I haven't seen a transformer hit by lightning, but one behind our house blew one night. That was bad enough for me!

vfwchick, whether or not your surge protector is enough depends on the type. Some surge protectors only protect against routine surges, but you can get them that also protect against lightning. I don't have one of those but am considering getting one. Guess I need to either look on-line or call the local supply store to see if they have any.

Edited because I misspoke. So, what else is new? [lol]

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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skyeg
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Apparently the mythbusters confirmed this. Here is a link to the unofficial guide for this episode.
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abigsmurf
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In my house the earth wires are all linked to the piping for the downstairs toilet.

Makes me wonder if something high voltage shorts and you're having a wee at the time...

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:
Lainie, I haven't seen a transformer hit by lightning, but one behind our house blew one night. That was bad enough for me!

Purple flames shot out of it. Luckily nothing else caught fire (of course, everything was soaking wet).

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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Dawnshadow
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I've lost a modem to a lightning spike before. Ever since, I've always unplugged my computer's strip when it storms...
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TB Tabby
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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A brief rundown of the Mythbusters tests:

Taking a shower: Confirmed
Using the telephone: Plausible
Watching TV: Busted
Using a computer: Busted

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I like to go down to the playground and watch the kids run and jump and scream, because they don't know I'm only using blanks.

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Pseudo_Croat
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OK, after reading all these "don'ts" regarding lightning storms, does that leave anthing left that one can do during one? All I can think of is read and sleep.

- Pseudo "storm of boredom" Croat

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"At all events, people who deny the influence of smaller nations should remember that the Croats have the rest of us by the throats." - Norman Davies, Europe: A History

God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Pseudo_Croat:
OK, after reading all these "don'ts" regarding lightning storms, does that leave anthing left that one can do during one? All I can think of is read and sleep.

- Pseudo "storm of boredom" Croat

[Confused] Did you miss TB Tabby's post?

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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Pseudo_Croat
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by Lainie:
quote:
Originally posted by Pseudo_Croat:
OK, after reading all these "don'ts" regarding lightning storms, does that leave anthing left that one can do during one? All I can think of is read and sleep.

- Pseudo "storm of boredom" Croat

[Confused] Did you miss TB Tabby's post?
Yes, I did. I'm still very nervous about using plugged-in electronics in a storm, though.

- Pseudo_Croat

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"At all events, people who deny the influence of smaller nations should remember that the Croats have the rest of us by the throats." - Norman Davies, Europe: A History

God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.

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Zorro
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
Logging off will not make any difference, the lightning does not care about details such as the state of a bunch of transistors. If you want to protect your equipment, disconnect (not just switching off) it, both from the phone jack and from the power outlets.

Duh, this is what I meant. *smacks self on head* Sorry for the brain fart...

Oh, and Pseudo? I can think of one more thing to add to the list of things to do... [Wink]

--------------------
"Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary!"
-John Keating, "Dead Poets Society"

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Signora, I just connected your fear of lightning and your location. That must suck! You get a lot of thunderstorms in OK, don't you?

I'm one of those people who goes to the room with the most windows, or onto the covered porch, and watches the storm. If I know there are going to be storms after I go to bed, I'll open my blinds. As long as I'm safely inside, I love storms.

Storms while I'm driving or out walking are another matter entirely. Eek.

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How homophobic do you have to be to have penguin gaydar? - Lewis Black

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Lainie, we get way too many T-storms to suit me! My husband is like you, though. He loves storms. I used to have to beg him to close the door, instead of standing there watching the lightning. When he finally realized how much it was frightening me, he stopped doing it so much.

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Everything else (computer wise) is on surge protectors. Now I am wondering if that is good enough?
Good enough to take spikes, but a direct hit will most likely blast them to bits.

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/Troberg

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:
Purple Iguana, I certainly hope it came up plausible. If not, that boy died because of a "myth."

Oh, I certainly meant no offense... it's just I was remembering when Mythbusters tested the "peeing on the third rail" and they determined that by the time the pee hits the rail, it has become droplets which an electric current cannot travel up... so I wasn't sure if the same logic followed showering during a lightning storm.

When I can't remember something exactly (which is more often than not), I tend to speak in a non-committal manner, rather than to say definitely "this was the result" and have it pointed out later that I was wrong.

--------------------
They just don't make crazed, beserk robots like they used to. --Sheen Estevez, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

If I manage to post something swipe-worthy that you would like to make your sig, you may do so with my blessing.

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Jay Temple
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Zorro:
quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
Logging off will not make any difference, the lightning does not care about details such as the state of a bunch of transistors. If you want to protect your equipment, disconnect (not just switching off) it, both from the phone jack and from the power outlets.

Duh, this is what I meant. *smacks self on head* Sorry for the brain fart...

Oh, and Pseudo? I can think of one more thing to add to the list of things to do... [Wink]

I thought of the same thing, which made me laugh even harder at Pseudo's comment, "I'm still very nervous about using plugged-in electronics in a storm, though." [lol]

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"Well, it looks we're on our own ... again."--Rev. Lovejoy

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LemonLimeade
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If it's a really good storm I usually go to the door or the yard and watch the lightning [Embarrassed]

Then I get tired of standing and go watch TV; good thing that, at least, is safe.

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Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't.

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skeptic
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quote:
Originally posted by Zorro:
quote:
Originally posted by Stoneage Dinosaur:
I haven't been able to find any cases of people being killed by lightning whilst showering, but there is a snopes page on lightning killing people talking on the telephone.

Along similar lines (no pun intended), once, before hubby and I lived togetehr, when he still had dial-up, he was online during a thunder and lightning storm. He went to the bathroom and came back to find that lightning had travelled through the phone lines and completely fried his modem! :eek: So we make it a habit to log off, even though we have DSL now, every time there's thunder and lightning.
When I worked in tech support, we always ordered a batch of modems after a big storm. Within a week they were all gone. Two particular areas around here were very prone to lightning. One was a hill area which did not surprise us, but the other was a long low valley where a dozen or more people could lose their modems in the same storm. We think it was caused by the lightning hitting the lines in the hills and travelling down.
Surge protecters aren't much good unless they also protect against the phone line, and most of them don't. We stopped selling surge protectors because they were so unreliable around here. Better they go and yell at the hardware shop staff rather than us.

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I like free speech. It lets me know who the idiots are.

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Signora Del Drago
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by Purple Iguana:
quote:
Originally posted by Signora Del Drago:
Purple Iguana, I certainly hope it came up plausible. If not, that boy died because of a "myth."

Oh, I certainly meant no offense... it's just I was remembering when Mythbusters tested the "peeing on the third rail" and they determined that by the time the pee hits the rail, it has become droplets which an electric current cannot travel up... so I wasn't sure if the same logic followed showering during a lightning storm.

When I can't remember something exactly (which is more often than not), I tend to speak in a non-committal manner, rather than to say definitely "this was the result" and have it pointed out later that I was wrong.

I didn't realize that sounded snarky when I posted it, but it does. Sorry, Purple Iguana. What you said, "I thought... didn't Mythbusters challenge this myth? I forget the outcome, but I'm thinking it came up confirmed or at least plausible. . ." was in no way offensive. Somehow what I said looked different to me when I first posted it. What I meant was that you had to be right because there was no way it wasn't true, but something was lost between the thought and the typing. [Frown]

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"This air we're breathing. Oxygen, isn't it?"~I’mNotDedalus, impersonating Vincent D’Onofrio.|"Sometimes trying to communicate can be like walking through a minefield."~wanderwoman
"Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life."~Joshua Halberstam

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Signora... I think I was erring on the side of caution. On a couple other threads, I seem to have tripped people's snark button, so I think I might be a little sensitive to any possible stepping on toes, ya know? As long as you and I are on the same page, I'm cool with that. [Smile]

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They just don't make crazed, beserk robots like they used to. --Sheen Estevez, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

If I manage to post something swipe-worthy that you would like to make your sig, you may do so with my blessing.

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ali_marea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Ok, while I appreciate the Red Cross trying to inform people, I think this is a little misleading:

quote:
Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which can strike as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Um...no. Thunderstorms to do not produce lightning. Lightning produces thunder. That's how we get it. So a lightning storm may produce thunder, but you can't have thunder by itself.

Edited because I meant 'no', not 'now'. [Roll Eyes]

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28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. That is when the world will end.

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Buzzkiller
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Two members of my family have been struck by lightning, and both incidents took place indoors.

Several years ago my dad was enveloped by ball lightning while pouring coffee from a plugged-in electric percolator. I don't know if this is relevant, but the building he was in was a hand-built, rustic cabin on some rural land of his, and the wiring may have been a bit dodgy. Dad remained conscious throughout the incident, and as soon as it was over he drove himself home (30 miles)! My mother took him to the ER, but the only problems they could find were a minor burn on his foot and coffee burns on his hands and arms.

Around 1930, my mother's father was struck by lightning while talking on the telephone. Family legend has it that my mother was in his arms, but she was thrown across the room by the jolt and was relatively unhurt. I don't what effects my grandfather might have felt, but he did live to tell the tale.

Posts: 207 | From: Alabama | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Several years ago my dad was enveloped by ball lightning while pouring coffee from a plugged-in electric percolator.
Of course, American coffee is way to weak to protect you against lightning. Try some real, Swedish coffee, it will send the lightning whimpering in the other direction... [Smile]

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/Troberg

Posts: 4360 | From: Borlänge, Sweden | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
kanazawa
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by ali_marea:
Ok, while I appreciate the Red Cross trying to inform people, I think this is a little misleading:

quote:
Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which can strike as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Um...no. Thunderstorms to do not produce lightning. Lightning produces thunder. That's how we get it. So a lightning storm may produce thunder, but you can't have thunder by itself.


Edited because I meant 'no', not 'now'. [Roll Eyes]

Thunderstorm is the "official" (US government at least) term for a storm that produces lightning, thunder, etc. I remember there was a question related to this on the FAA instrument pilot written exam.

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Miraculous escape as lightning hits girl in bed

quote:
A schoolgirl girl [sic] was lucky to be alive after a freak lightning bolt tore through the roof of her home - and struck her metal bed.


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All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

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Posts: 5481 | From: Decatur, GA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Lightning Strike Database

One person struck by touching dryer, a few talking on the phone, one on the computer, one working on pipes (through the pipes, but outdoors), one praying in the kitchen via the kitchen pipes, at least four while showering (one with a news blurb).

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All posts foretold by Nostradamus.

Turing test failures: 6

Posts: 5481 | From: Decatur, GA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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