It’s summertime and to me that means hot tubs are in full swing. With the increased use of these pools, many people have been curious about why they attract lightning so often.
Can a hot tub really attract lightning? What can you do to stay safe during a thunderstorm when you’re inside or outside your home?
The answer is yes!
In fact, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), “People have reported seeing or hearing thunderstorms coming and then turning their spa off because they were worried about getting struck by lightning.”
So, what are the facts surrounding whether or not hot tubs attract lightning?
In this blog post, we will answer all those questions and more!
- What is lightning and how does it work?
- The difference between a storm and lightning?
- Does the hot tub attract lightning or not?
- What type of grounding do hot tubs have?
- What should I do when I see lightning around my hot tub area?
- What are lightning safety tips for those with planned outdoor hot tub activities?
What is lightning and how does it work?
Lightning is a sudden electrostatic discharge that occurs during a storm.
The lightning bolt, also known as “a flash of lightning,” originates from the bottom part of the thunderstorm cloud and follows its electric field lines past earth’s surface to form one or more branches, or channels.
As it approaches ground level, these channels are attracted to the opposite charge on the ground.
This creates a circuit, which has an extremely high voltage potential.
Lightning is actually not just one big electric spark but rather a series of sparks over time in different channels near each other with some time gaps between them.
The charge of lightning is typically about three million volts, with a current of 30,000 amperes and many megawatts (millions of watts) in power.
The voltage potential between the ground and sky becomes so great that it drives an intense electric arc across the air to complete the circuit: this marks where lightning has occurred.
Lightning can also flow from the cloud to ground, or vice versa.
In order for you to be struck by lightning this means that you must have a point of contact with one and only one element of an electric circuit as it is completed.
For example: Your hand touches a tree branch during a strike and then your skin becomes the side of the “circuit” that is completed.
The difference between a storm and lightning?
The difference between a storm and lightning is that storms are more likely to have thunder too.
A storm can be brewing for hours or days before it releases its rain, but lightning usually only lasts seconds at most.
The clouds from the storm will often hang in the sky like an umbrella with several layers of different colors; sometimes those clouds will release the different colors as rain.
If you see a clear sky up above before the storm begins, that means it’s not going to produce any lightning so be careful if you need to head outside during the storm.
Storms can also affect our atmosphere and create what we call thunderstorms which are really just storms with lots of lightning and thunder included.
For more information on lightning, visit the National Weather Service’s website.
Lightning is a sudden burst of light from an electric discharge that leaves behind thunder and can be seen in the sky during storms.
Lightning happens when there are different areas with opposite charges within clouds or between two storm systems.
The negative charge travels down towards Earth and the positive charge travels up.
The difference between lightning and a storm is that in storms, thunder can be heard but with lightning it’s just light to see.
Lightning happens when there are different areas of opposite charges within clouds or between two storm systems and goes from negative to positive.
Storms produce rain while lightning does not, but lightning is also a sign of rain.
Lightning can strike anywhere from the ground up to 15 miles high in the sky and it usually happens with thunder which makes people think that they are close but they might not be.
Lightning strikes when there are different areas of opposite charges within clouds or between two storm systems, so lighter chargers will discharge themselves into a heavier cloud or storm system.
Does the hot tub attract lightning or not?
It’s a question that I’ve seen debated for years, but does the hot tub attract lightning?
Some people argue that the high metal content in a hot tub makes it more likely to be hit by lightning because of its conductivity.
Others say that the water in a hot tub acts as an insulator, which protects it from being hit by lightning.
What do you think?
Most lightning strikes are actually attracted to tall, pointy objects like trees and towers.
However, this does not mean that you are completely safe in your hot tub on stormy days!
You can still be struck by lightning if it happens to strike a nearby object and then jumps over to you or if it hits the ground close by.
The most plausible explanation is that the high voltage current from a thunderstorm can jump to earth and travel through metal or water-filled pipes with ease.
It’s possible that a storm may create an electric current in between your body and the water, which can cause harm to you.
This is why it’s important for those who are swimming outside during storms to get out of the water!
What type of grounding do hot tubs have?
Grounding for a hot tub is typically accomplished by running an electrical cord from the ground box to the spa’s grounding electrode.
This provides current that can be used in the event of a storm, as well as any other situation where power might go out.
Some spas have an electrical cord that needs to be plugged in and grounded like any other appliance or outlet.
These types of plugs should be protected and properly insulated in case they’re installed outdoors due to possible weather damage.
Not all spas need ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection circuits.
But for hot tubs, it’s a requirement.
It is also mandatory for your electrical equipment that is within 20 feet of the water or more than one receptacle that’s less than 6 feet to the water to adhere to GFCI guidelines.
What should I do when I see lightning around my hot tub area?
It’s recommended that you leave the area immediately, and stay indoors.
If the storm has reached its peak in your area, then seek shelter as soon as possible! It can be dangerous after this point to be outdoors.
When the lightning is visible outside your window or door, you should remain inside until 30 minutes after it has stopped raining so as to avoid being struck by a stray bolt of lightning.
Remember to close all windows and doors tightly before leaving the house in order to prevent injuries from flying debris such as shattered glass caused by a lightning strike.
Finally, outdoor furnishings should be moved inside or secured with rubberized bicycle locks to prevent any damage from the storm and ensure your hot tub is safe for use when summer arrives again!
If you’re inside and see lightning, it’s best to stay away from windows.
You might be outside and can’t get inside.
In this case, you should find a safe place to go. If this is not an option and the storm has reached its peak in your area, then seek shelter as soon as possible!
It can be dangerous after this point to be outdoors.
What are lightning safety tips for those with planned outdoor hot tub activities?
One of the most common causes for lightning-related fatalities is contact with water.
Though it’s a rare occurrence, in 2020 alone there were at least 17 people killed by lightning strikes.
An outdoor hot tub is a risk factor you ought to be aware of.
It’s important to know how to stay safe during thunderstorms so you can enjoy your time in the spa without worrying about getting struck by lightning.
Here are some tips for staying safe…
Stay updated on weather news
Be aware of the weather forecast.
If possible, seek shelter if thunderstorms are in the area and lightning is visible.
You can also watch local news for alerts about storm warnings or evacuation orders to determine whether you should take any action.
Avoid potential electricity conductors
If stuck outside, stay away from items like metal fences that could conduct electricity while waiting out the storm.
It is also important not to be near windows or doors as they may attract lightning outwards from inside buildings because of their conductors like metal and glass. Stay away from corded phones or appliances that could potentially bring electricity to the building.
Spread out if you’re a group
If you are with a group of people, spread out to avoid all getting hit by one strike at once.
You can also use your cell phone as an emergency tool and call 911 if needed.
Stay away from trees
Do not try to seek shelter under trees that have taller branches or leaves like pine trees since they may attract lightning.
If necessary, stay in a sturdy building with no taller trees around to avoid the risk of lightning strikes.