Why washing dishes or showering during a storm can be extremely dangerous

It's common advice to stay away from plumbing or metal objects during a thunderstorm, but what could happen if you don't?

Lightning can strike and electricity can travel through pipes and water, shocking you, according to John Jensenius, lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service (NWS).

During a thunderstorm, simple daily tasks such as doing the dishes or taking a shower can increase your risk of getting struck by lightning.

"You just want to stay away from things that conduct electricity within the home," Jensenius said. "That would include both the wires and the plumbing, so in that particular case certainly showers would be dangerous, it would be dangerous to be washing your hands or washing dishes. Just avoid those any time you can hear thunder."

RELATED: 11 kitchen hacks that are a life saver:

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11 kitchen hacks that'll make you stop dreading doing the dishes
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11 kitchen hacks that'll make you stop dreading doing the dishes

RUSTY KNIVES

Rust on a knife is a little bit like a bad hair day: It'll make you want to throw the whole thing out and start over (AKA give yourself a 2007 Britney shave), but all the cutlery needs is a little tender love and care. Load each knife up with an at-home paste of baking soda and water, and scrub it with steel wool.

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DIRTY BAKING SHEETS

This hack is similar to cleaning a rusty knife. Sprinkle baking soda on the sheet, add a layer of hydrogen peroxide, add more baking soda, and let the whole thing sit for up to two hours. When you wipe it away with a coarse sponge or rag, the sheet will look good as new.

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CAST IRON PAN

Turns out, potatoes are good for a lot more than eating. When you add halved taters to a salted cast iron pan and scrub in a circular motion with the flat side down, the potatoes will clean the pan. To then season it, rinse the pan with water, pat it dry, and pour a small amount of oil into the skillet. Spread it evenly, and place the pan into a 400-degree oven for one hour.

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GLASSWARE

If that strip of aluminum foil you're about to throw out doesn't have a lick of food on it, repurpose it as a sponge. Crumple the stuff up, add a drop of dish soap too it, and scrub Pyrex dishes with baked-on food.

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STAINED CUTTING BOARDS

Everything white yellows without the proper care: teeth, sheets, cutting boards. Luckily, the latter is super easy (and cheap!) to fix. Run your faucet until your sink fills with about an inch of water, then pour in a cup of bleach. Lay cutting boards in the sink, and let them soak for an hour. When the time's up, carefully drain the sink and rinse your good-as-new boards.

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CLOGGED CHEESE GRATER

Here's yet another use for a potato that doesn't have anything to do with French fries. When you've got dried cheese clogging the holes of your grater, try rubbing a potato down the blade. It'll push the cheese out, making the whole device easier to clean.

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WATER STAINED SILVER

If you have hard water, you know the headache of water-stained cutlery. Let your utensils soak in a cup of white vinegar for 10 seconds. The stains will come off with a quick wipe down.

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FOOD-COVERED BAKING DISH

It's impossible not to feel like you're in a dishwasher commercial when you get ready to clean a dish with baked-on food. You can skip the witty banter with your housemate, and just reach for a dryer sheet. With warm water, it'll release all those crumbs in a few hours.

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DIRTY BLENDER

So you made a smoothie and Instagrammed it. Bravo. Now comes the part where you risk life and limb to clean the blender by sticking your hand dangerously close to that spinning blade. Take the safe route and just fill the dirty vessel with soap and water, then blend it. It'll remove all the leftover smoothie and rinse clean.

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IRREGULARLY SHAPED BOTTLES

If you don't have a bottlebrush lying around, fill that weird jar with a little water, uncooked rice, and a small amount of dish soap. Cover it, and as you shake, the rice will scrub residue from all sides.

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STAINED COFFEE MUGS

You can't expect your favorite mug to stay looking pristine when you fill it with brown liquid every day. The easiest way to clean it is by sprinkling baking soda in the whole thing, filling it with warm water, and letting it sit for 15 minutes. When you wipe it clean, the stains will be gone.

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"If you're at all connected to ... anything that plugs into the wall, which could be, for example, a dishwasher or a washing machine that's plugged into the wall or also has connections to plumbing, that becomes dangerous," Jensenius said.

He said that lightning can strike up to about 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. With that in mind, if you can hear thunder, you're within striking distance of a storm and you'll want to get to a safe place.

According to the NWS, a safe place is indoors, away from metal, plumbing, anything plugged in, concrete, windows and doors. Picnic shelters, dugouts and dog houses are not safe. A vehicle with a metal roof is safe if the windows are up.

RELATED: 15 things you didn't know your dishwasher could do:

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15 things you never knew your dishwasher could do
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15 things you never knew your dishwasher could do

Bake salmon fillets

Dishwashers are good for more than just cleaning your cookware; these kitchen appliances can whip up a tasty meal, too. Just for starters, wrap salmon (seasoned to your liking) in a foil packet, place it on the top rack, and run a normal cycle without soap for a hassle-free dinner. While it might not be the most efficient way to cook a meal—and it can reportedly make your dishwasher smell funky—it can’t hurt to put this fun trick to the test. Don’t miss more brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Rinse fruit and vegetables

If you still hand-wash each individual fruit or vegetable from your weekly farmer’s market haul, you’re wasting your time. Throw them all in your dishwasher and run a cold (soap-free) rinse cycle, instead, and you’ll never need to turn on your sink. Bonus tip: To protect more delicate items, such as tomatoes and peaches, place them on the top rack. Heavier produce like potatoes and cantaloupes can go on the bottom. Here are more surprising things you can clean in the dishwasher.

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De-germ your computer keyboard

Our computer keyboards are downright filthy—no exceptions. Thankfully, many experts say tossing them in your dishwasher can remove all that grime in a jiffy. But you should proceed with caution; avoid using soap and hot water, never select the heated drying cycle, and don't put anything else in the dishwasher. You should also allow your keyboard to air dry for up to three days once it has been through the wash. For a less risky cleaning, some manufacturers recommend gently wiping the surface with a damp cloth, instead. Lazy people will appreciate these fast and easy cleaning tips, too.

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Keep food warm

Let’s be honest: Keeping cooked food warm until you’re ready to eat might as well be rocket science. If your oven is full, set the dishwasher to dry cycle with no water and leave the dish on the top rack. Your meal will stay nice and toasty, guaranteed.

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Ripen avocados 

Need to ripen an avocado fast? Your dishwasher is here to help. Just throw the fruit on the top rack for one normal cycle; according to a restaurant employee, something about the heat and/or humidity can soften up these rock-hard fruits. This genius trick can ripen an avocado in under 10 minutes.

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Steam veggies

Did your stove decide to take some unexpected time off? Save the day by placing chopped vegetables—Brit+Co recommends green beans or asparagus—into a Mason jar with one cup of water and seal it shut. Then, leave the jar on the top rack of your dishwasher and run a normal cycle. You will have delicious, perfectly steamed veggies on your plate in minutes. Bon appetit!

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Sanitize makeup brushes

All the scouring and scrubbing in the world won’t make that gunk in your makeup brushes go away. Instead, try placing them in your dishwasher's silverware basket and running a normal cycle. You can do the same thing for nail clippers, hairbrushes, and combs, too. (But you should never, ever put these things in a dishwasher.)

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Cook homemade lasagna

Your dishwasher might be the next crockpot. To see what we mean, seal lasagna inside a packet of foil and run a normal cycle, selecting "heated dry" and "sanitize" for extra heat. Granted, it's faster to cook lasagna in an oven, but this trick can come in handy if you're in a pinch.

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Reuse the racks as storage

Ahh, another dishwasher bites the dust. But before you toss it out, you can actually reuse almost all of its parts. The top rack, for example, can double as creative storage for craft supplies or gardening tools. Just turn the rack on its side and hang it on a wall in your craft room or garage. Try more brilliant ways to reuse other household items.

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Organize utensils and writing supplies

Speaking of salvaging broken dishwashers, that old silverware caddy can also have a second life as a place to stash pencils, markers, crayons, or other craft supplies. You'll wish you knew these brilliant organization tips, too.

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De-grease car parts

No need to break your back making those pesky hubcaps and wheel covers spic and span; simply remove them from your car and place them in the dishwasher. With little to no elbow grease, they will shine like new—just try not to wash them with your dinner plates.

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Dry your hand-washed dishes

Hand-washing dishes is time-consuming enough without drying them all, too. Let that huge stack of delicate bowls and plates air dry in the empty dishwasher (with the door cracked open), or run the dry cycle if you're in a hurry. This clever hack will help you dry a full load of dishes fast.

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Clean fake flowers

Your plastic flower arrangements can look beautiful on a mantel, but they are also major dust magnets. The simplest solution? Just throw the whole bouquet on the top rack of the dishwasher, and they will get back to freshening up your space in no time.

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Create under the bed storage

Your plastic flower arrangements can look beautiful on a mantel, but they are also major dust magnets. The simplest solution? Just throw the whole bouquet on the top rack of the dishwasher, and they will get back to freshening up your space in no time.

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Jensenius said some people think if they have plastic pipes, they're able to shower during a storm without risk.

"That's not true. Water can conduct electricity as well. We see that on the outside where lightning strikes something and if there are puddles around, it can easily electrocute somebody nearby the puddle."

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski notes it can also depend on how your house is grounded.

"When a house is built, it should be built so that when your electricity comes in, it's grounded to your house. If your house is grounded to separate rods that are basically stuck down into the ground, then that's a bit safer because nothing is attached to the plumbing," Kottlowski said.

Kottlowski said some homes, years ago, had electrical systems that were grounded to the plumbing system.

He said one way to change where your electrical system is grounded to is to have an electrical contractor come in and put steel rods in the ground, a few feet away from the house, and attach the electrical system to those rods.

In order to determine if your electrical system is grounded to your plumbing, it's best to contact an electrician, Kottlowski said.

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