Can you shower during a thunderstorm, power outage?

(NEXSTAR) – Much of the country has already experienced severe storms this summer, prompting reminders to stay indoors when thunder rolls.

Among the many things you do to pass the time while you're indoors, a simple shower might sound like a worthwhile activity. But is it safe to shower when it's thundering or, worse, when your power is out due to a storm?

Let’s start with the thunderstorms.

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The short answer is no, it's probably not the best idea to jump in the shower during a thunderstorm. In fact, when lightning strikes, you should avoid any activities that use water from your home's pipes. That includes bathing, washing dishes and washing hands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Plastic pipes may be less likely to be struck by lightning in plumbing than metal pipes,” the CDC says. “However, during a thunderstorm, it is best to avoid contact with plumbing and running water to reduce the risk of being struck by lightning.”

You don't believe it? Just ask the residents of an Oklahoma apartment building whose toilet exploded and burst in May 2022 after lightning struck a vent. Three years earlier, a toilet exploded in Florida after lightning struck near a home's septic tank, igniting the gases inside.

Let's say you have a power outage during the storm and are left in the dark long after the storm has passed. Or maybe the power outage was caused by something other than the weather. In any case, can you take a shower when the power is out?

The answer depends on how you get your water and whether you can tolerate a cold shower.

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According to Hoffman Electrical and A/C of Tampa, if you have a tankless water heater, you can still take a shower, but only with cold water. These systems use electricity and don't have a tank, meaning you won't get hot water.

A similar problem can occur with an electric water heater. There may still be some hot water in it, but this will most likely be short-lived.

If you have an older gas hot water system with an independent pilot light, you may still be able to get hot water. Newer systems often rely on electricity for some parts, the company explains, which can result in you only getting cold water from the shower.

If you do take a shower during a power outage, King County, Washington, authorities recommend keeping your shower short to avoid stressing the sewer line. They also advise not flushing the toilet every time and not turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, shave or wash the dishes.

Jeremy Tanner contributed to this report.

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