Living on the Edge (Sort Of)

By August 29, 2008 culture, faith No Comments

Yesterday was a rainy Midwest morning, one that makes me want to curl up on the couch with my polar-fleece blanket, a cup of hot vanilla tea, and a book. Reality was with me though—I had deadlines and appointments, leaving no time for lounging.

As I rushed to get ready, I was just about to shower when I heard the low rumble of thunder announcing a soon-coming downpour. And I remembered a morning earlier this summer just like this one—then too, I had a busy day and needed to shower to get out the door on time. That storm was strong enough to flicker the lights during my shower. (And my bathroom has no windows, so flickering lights left me in utter darkness. Quite the shaving adventure!)

Anyhow, along with my strobe-lit shower, I also remembered that later in the day I chatted with my sister-in-law. We lamented together on the dreary day, and I relayed my shower incident. And she lauded my bravery in showering during a thunderstorm.


That was news to me. I had not heard of the risks of showering during a storm. I’ve now learned, you see, if lightning strikes your home’s water pipes, the current can travel through to your shower. The result would be much worse than the strobe-lit shower I tolerated.

I did some scientific information gathering (i.e., Internet surfing) and found that according to a MythBusters episode, this risk was found to be plausible. But what are the chances of this actually happening?

Another search led me to the National Weather Service, documenting that each year, 62 people in the United States die from lightning. (It didn’t say how many of those deaths occurred in the shower.)

And a Live Science article states there is a 1-in-5,000 chance of dying by electrocution (of any form; my guess is the odds decrease for electrocution by lightning while showering). At a 1-in-5,000 chance, I have better odds of dying from heart disease (1-in-5), accidental injury (1-in-36), motor vehicle accident (1-in-100), falling down (1-in-246), or natural forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.; 1-in-3,357).

So the chances of a shower-death-by-lightning are quite small. But is it best to avoid the shower and therefore avoid the risk?

Well, according to the National Lightning Safety Institute, 86 percent of all strikes happen to men (my risk is dropping . . .), and most lightning strikes occur on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. (so yesterday’s 10:00 a.m. shower on a Thursday decreased my risk even more!).

The thing about odds, however, is that someone somewhere beats them. So before I stepped into my steamy bath yesterday, I wondered for a few moments if I should heed my sister-in-law’s warning.

Then this faint, gentle thought crossed my mind: At the end of my life, I don’t want to say that the riskiest thing I’ve ever done is shower during a storm.

So I took my shower and braved the odds. (What a wild child I am!)

Now I must find something more dangerous to tackle, because I’m in great risk of having nothing riskier to boast about than showering during a storm.

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