Plumbing in Phoenix can be dangerous? You bet! And not just because most accidents that occur in the home happen in the kitchen or bathroom.
Here in Phoenix, Arizona, we’re right in the middle of our monsoon season (officially: June 15 through September 30 each year). And during the monsoon season, Arizona can experience some pretty severe weather!
While our biggest concern is normally the flash floods that are a common monsoon occurrence, another serious threat is that of lightening strikes, as attested to by the unfortunate deaths of two people who were killed by lightening strikes in northern Arizona recently, as well as the heartbreaking deaths of 19 firefighters killed July 1 during the Yarnell Hill Fire, reportedly started by a lighting strike on nearby state land.
According to a report by the University of Arizona’s Climate Specialist, Mike Crimmins, Ph.D., (online address of full report below) the average number of lightening strikes in Arizona between 1996 and 2005 was over 600,000 per year. That’s over 600,000 in just one year! And, just in the state of Arizona!
Clearly, lightening is a very present, and very significant, danger. And, according to Crimmins, lightening is the number two weather related killer in the United States with, on average, over 73 lightening-related deaths occurring each year.
The National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services has issued some tips for staying safe during a storm, including this plumbing related advice:
- AVOID PLUMBING. DO NOT wash your hands, take a shower or bath, or wash dishes. Both the metal in the plumbing pipes/fixtures and the water conduct electricity.
- AVOID APPLIANCES such as dishwashers, washing machines and hot water heaters. All are electrical conductors.
In addition to these plumbing related safety tips, the National Weather Service also advises:
- Go indoors as soon as a storm starts, and stay indoors until the threat of a lightning strike has passed – at least 30 minutes after the storm has ended;
- Full-size buildings are the safest (sheds and open shelters do not provide adequate protection); Hard-top, enclosed vehicles (cars, trucks, vans) can also provide protection;
- Be sure all windows – whether in a building or a vehicle – are closed, and avoid proximity to windows/doors, especially those with metal frames;
- Avoid not only plumbing, but also stay away from appliances like computers, televisions, stereos, telephones – anything that can conduct electricity. Devices that do not use (or are not currently using) electricity – such as wireless phones, unplugged laptop computers, flashlights – are all fine to use.
Finally, if you, or anyone else, are struck by lightning, call 911 immediately and treat any injuries using basic first aid steps. Most victims of lightening strikes survive – if they receive quick and proper medical attention. (There’s no reason to avoid treating the victim; victims are not charged with electricity and are completely safe to touch.)
Enjoy a good thunder and lightening storm? Lots of people do – especially in Arizona where they aren’t a regular occurrence. Follow proper safety procautions, and you can enjoy the storm safely!
Stevens Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning
Information courtesy of the National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services. Learn more about lightening safety at their website: lightningsafety.noaa.gov
See also: cals.arizona.edu/backyards/articles/summer07/p16.pdf