Can a Person Be Struck by Lightning Indoors?

lightning lighting up a cloudy night sky

When a wild rainstorm hits your neighborhood and the sound of thunder is scaring your pets (and maybe you too!) and the lighting is flashing every few seconds, you probably know that this is not the ideal time to head outdoors to check the mail, take out the trash or adjust that TV antennae on your roof.

You figure that as long as you stay indoors, you will stay safe from lightning strikes and will survive the storm unscathed.

But is this assumption actually correct?  Can you be struck by lightning indoors? And if so, how can you avoid this unpleasant and possibly deadly scenario?

Lightning Can Strike Indoors

As CNBC noted (1), police once found the badly burned body of a man inside of his house. After looking at all of the available evidence, they concluded that he was killed by lightning strikes while he was still indoors. The man was renovating the home, so the structure had lots of exposed steel beams and he was found surrounded by metal tools. The investigating team determined that the lightning passed through the beams and the tools before traveling through the unfortunate man’s body.

Other Conduits for Lightning Indoors

You don’t have to be a home renovator to be at risk for an indoor lightning strike. Lightning is such a powerful force of nature that it can reach you inside the seemingly safe space of your own home, especially if you are in contact with plumbing or a landline telephone.

For instance, if lightning hits your home or a space near your house, it can send a solid charge through the metal plumbing pipes. If you happen to be touching the pipes or anything connected to them, you may get a jolt. This means taking a break if you are washing dishes or if you want to take a shower, wait until the storm is over.

Granted, many homes have PVC piping these days, so the threat is not as strong as it used to be, but it is definitely worth remembering. In the case of the phone, if lightning strikes the telephone line outside of your house, it will travel to the phones inside the house. If you are on the phone at the time, you will end up being zapped by lightning. To avoid this from happening, please use a cordless landline phone or a cell phone until the storm has passed.

For Added Safety, Keep the TV and Other Electronics Off

Lightning could potentially strike you inside your house through your computer, TV and/or air conditioner. These electronic devices all give lightning a potential path to your person during a storm. Remember that once lightning hits your home, it will travel through whatever route it can find, including the wires that attach to your television set or your computer.

If you are in the middle of a fave TV show when the storm hits, you can still touch the remote control as long as it’s not attached to the set—just keep your hands away from the actual equipment and advise young kids to do the same.

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