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Since water conducts electricity, if a persons entire body is soaking wet would that then make being struck by lightning make it more life threatening?
Question Date: 2008-12-11
Answer 1:

Your body is made from mostly water already, so being wet on the outside would not make much difference to a lightning bolt. What's more, pure water is not very conductive, but salty water (like in your blood and tissue) is conductive. So the lightning--which has already jumped a mile through air--would probably travel through your skin and blood whether you were dry or soaking wet. On the other hand, other kinds of electrocution are much more dangerous if you are wet because they allow the electricity to enter your skin much more readily. That's why using a plugged-in hair dryer or toy near a wet bath tub or sink is dangerous. The electricity could travel from the hair dryer, through your wet hand, then your body, out to the pipes in the tub. More current will flow through you if your hands or body are wet because it makes a better electrical contact. Better for electricity, but worse for you!

Answer 2:

Yes and no, for several reasons.

1. Water conducts electricity only if it has dissolved ions (e.g. salts) in it. Tap water has some, sea water has more, but rain water has very little, unless it is mixed with sweat from your skin.

2. Lightning is a spark, a channel of plasma that is formed as the voltage separation of the thundercloud overcomes the electrical resistance of air. Lightning doesn't really care what it hits as far as the amount of electricity delivered is concerned because this plasma channel is a perfect conductor, and if anything else isn't a good enough conductor, the lightning will ionize it too.

3. Almost anything is a better conductor than air. Once the lightning hits it and goes into standard electric current physics, there will be a huge current flowing through it, enough to neutralize the voltage separation of from clouds to the ground.

Basically, being a poor conductor of electricity can make you less likely to get hit by lightning, but the amount of energy and the amount of electricity delivered isn't going to matter much.

Answer 3:

Yes, you want to avoid water when electricity is on the loose. Water always has some dissolved salts in it and that makes it a better conductor than plain PURE water...

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