Is it Safe to Use a Hot Tub in a Thunderstorm?


Although spending time in the hot tub during the rain is an activity of great enjoyment for many hot tub owners, bading during a thunderstorm is not a safe activity and because water is a conductor of electricity, it can be extremely dangerous and cause severe injuries.

The risk of being electrocuted while bading in the hot tub during a thunderstorm poses a serious threat in case of a lightning strike. Water conducts electricity because of the natural minerals it contains. The person bading inside the hot tub would suffer an intense electrical shock, passing current from the lightning through the body. This can cause severe burns on the body and, in extreme cases, a fatal result.

Although it is tempting to use a hot tub in all sorts of weather conditions, one should always keep in mind that safety is a priority in this case.

An additional reason for caution is the fact that lightning usually strikes the tallest structure (organic or not) in the vicinity and standing in the hot tub during a thunderstorm increases the chance of a tragic accident. Even if lightning strikes are not directly directed on the hot tub, it can strike nearby, which can cause falling debris and is dangerous as well. Spending time in the hot tub during a thunderstorm is an activity that hot tub owners should refrain from, without a doubt.

Can you get struck by lightning in a hot tub?

Yes, it is possible to get struck by lightning during a thunderstorm while spending time in a hot tub, although it does not attract lightning directly.

Although electrocution by lightning in a hot tub is not a common occurrence, it can happen on occasions, as lightning is attracted by the tallest structure nearby, so if the hot tub has certain accessories, or a person is standing inside the hot tub, it increases the chances of this tragic outcome.

Another way of being struck by lightning, although indirectly, is through plumbing. If lightning strikes near a source of water connected to the plumbing, it can travel a certain distance. Because of the natural minerals that dissolve in the water, it can conduct electricity, so it is possible to receive an electric shock this way as well. This fact also applies to indoor hot tubs as well. The limited body of water inside the hot tub would only increase the electrical shock.

Several experiments conducted that can be found even online have proved this fact beyond any doubt and cautionary videos and commentaries can be found all around the web. The most common injuries from lightning strikes are not burns but brain damage, caused by exposure to really strong currents of electricity.

The best way to keep yourself safe during thunderstorm and lightning is not using the hot tub at all until the storm passes entirely.

What are the chances of being hit by lightning in my hot tub?

Although there are no exact statistics showing this particular ratio, the average chance of being struck by lightning during your lifetime is around 1 in 12 thousand. Being hit by lightning in a hot tub depends on the amount of exposure and the risks taken.

People who are prone to more risk-taking and spend their time in a hot tub during lightning storms, especially if it is located on higher ground or place, certainly have a much higher chance of being hit by lightning.

One study showed that between 2002 and 2018, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has reported that there were 47 incidents involving injury or death in hot tubs, pools and spas related to electrocution. These incidents resulted in 33 fatal cases.

When discussing this specific topic, one must mention the fact that often lightning does not strike the hot tub directly, but the electricity from the lightning strike that hits the ground or objects nearby finds its way to the hot tub. This is the most common way of causing injuries to the hot tub user.

Setting all statistics aside, using a hot tub during a possible lightning strike is considered unsafe and irresponsible and should be completely avoided.

Should I unplug my hot tub in a thunderstorm?

Unplugging the hot tub during a thunderstorm is definitely a good idea and is recommended to minimize any possible damage that may be caused.

Disconnecting the power supply of the hot tub should be considered the first step in securing your place of relaxation and enjoyment. Most issues and damage caused on hot tubs by lightning are due to a power surge when electrical equipment is hit by lightning. Sometimes power surges can occur even if the electrical switch is off, so disconnecting them completely is the safest way to go.

Further securing a hot tub should include unplugging any accessories not directly related to the hot tub circuits, such as lights, decorations et cetera. Any electrical appliances susceptible to lightning strikes during a thunderstorm, especially those located outside of the house should be unplugged for the owner‘s safety.

Additionally, any part of a hot tub that is directly exposed and could be damaged should be carefully wrapped with waterproof plastic. This will ensure they are protected from wind damage and from the onslaught of falling rain. Those parts that can be easily removed from the hot tub, should be taken off and brought inside the house until the storm passes.

By the way, what’s actually the safest place to be in a storm?

The safest place to be during a storm is certainly inside the house or a building, at the lowest points and away from any possible electricity conductors such as wires or cables leading outside.

Avoiding other cables inside the house is also highly recommended, especially metal objects located in the higher areas of your household or building. Most of these structures have an installed protection from lightning strikes that safely conducts them to the surface of the earth. However, the safest thing to do is to remain in the center of the room, away from any electrical sockets, pipes, cables or wires.

Structures built on the outside such as sheds, outbuildings, barns etc do not provide any actual protection against a lightning strike because there is no safe way for the electrical strike to be safely conducted into the ground. This is the main reason that hot tubs are no safer inside such outer structures than outside in the open.

Contrary to popular opinion, cars and airplanes are relatively safe as well, as the current that hits the airplane has nowhere to go, so it does not cause any damage. Cars are also safe due to the metal outlining, so the current has nowhere to go and it cancels itself out eventually.

How to prepare a hot tub for a major storm?

There are several steps of precaution to be taken while preparing a hot tub for a major storm. Those steps include: turning off the power, checking and topping up the chemicals in the water, covering the hot tub, covering the hot tub entirely with a winter cover and cleaning and preparing the surroundings.

  • Turning off the power implies completely disconnecting the hot tub from the electricity supply, not just turning off the switch for this particular circuit. This prevents a power surge, that has been identified as the main cause of damage to hot tubs
  • Checking and topping up chemicals in the hot tub water by adding extra chlorine or bromine will help keeping the hot tub water clean in case of any muddy, rainy water and particles get inside
  • Covering the hot tub with a thermal cover and securing it will ensure that no debris, small or otherwise, gets inside the hot tub and taints the water or causes damage to the hot tub structure
  • Covering the entire hot tub with a winter cover and tying it down will ensure that no blast of wind causes any damage or no fabrics are lost due to the intensity of the storm
  • Cleaning up and preparing the surroundings means removing any potential accessories or other objects that may be blown away by wind and rain, ensuring they do not cause damage to the hot tub or anything else.

Being prepared for such events can make a huge difference to the protection of one‘s property and preventing any injuries or damage.

Can you get electrocuted if you drop your phone in the bath?

The answer to this question is almost certainly not, with a few tragic exceptions. Dropping your phone into the bath will not cause electrocution, their voltage is simply too low to cause any real damage. The only risk posed is in case they are connected to the charger.

This is why it is always important never to charge your phone during bading, because charges can produce extra power, making phones capable of conducting current into the water. Additionally in cases where the water contains a large amount of salts, it only increases the conductivity and the risk of electrocution.

However, most smartphones produced today are waterproof, so the danger of being electrocuted by them has dropped significantly. This information does not mean that talking or using the phone during the time in a bathtub is considered recommended or safe behaviour, of course. One should avoid this kind of activity at all times, because there are a few exceptions when it is considered dangerous. Besides using a charger near the bathtub, it is also prudent to avoid any extension cords, or frayed wires while spending time in a bathtub.

In this particular matter, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so avoiding these few risks of electrocution seems like a small price to pay for enjoying your bath time.

Editorial Staff

I'm Adnan Sabanovic, the guy behind Hot Tubs Report. I've had a chance to enjoy hot tubs last few years and have really become interested in owning one of them. Nearly every weekend you'll find me spending time with my family or playing sports. If I am not doing that then I'm here writing about tubs on Hot Tubs Report. This blog is a research for my first hot tub which I decided to document and share publically so others can benefit from it as well.

Recent Posts