Summer is approaching, and that means that thunderstorms will become common occurrences in many areas of the states, leading many to ask, “Can I charge my phone during a thunderstorm?”
While charging your phone during a thunderstorm isn’t usually dangerous, it’s still not recommended.
There are a few reasons why you should never charge your phone during a storm.
You shouldn’t charge your phone during a thunderstorm, as it can damage your phone and lead to you getting hurt. Charge your phone beforehand or use a power bank.
Can I Charge My Phone During a Thunderstorm or Is It Too Dangerous?
Charging a phone during a thunderstorm won’t typically lead to anything bad happening.
Lots of people charge their phones during thunderstorms, and we rarely hear of the consequences. However, that doesn’t mean that doing so is safe.
Here are the main reasons you should avoid charging your phone during a thunderstorm.
1. A Power Surge May Occur
When your phone is plugged into the wall, it is connected to electricity.
Manufacturers design appliances to handle up to 120 volts of electricity, though they can typically withstand up to 169 volts.
In other countries, they use around 240 volts. Phone chargers, though, frequently use a fraction of that amount.
In any case, if lightning happens to strike an electrical pole near you, it can create a burst of electricity, known as a power surge.
That can result in an electric output of millions of volts.
2. Your Phone May Get Damaged
Power surges aren’t frequent. They’re pretty unlikely to happen.
However, if one does happen, it can “fry” your phone, and you may not be able to use it again.
Your phone can’t handle the high voltage output of a power surge, and it can overheat. It can also damage your computer or other plugged-in appliances.
3. You May Get Hurt
Furthermore, the US government warns people not to use any electronic devices connected to electricity while there is a thunderstorm.
The truth is that a power surge is typically more dangerous for your phone than you, but you don’t want to be using your phone while it happens, either.
Tip: Unplug your other appliances too, including your microwave and electric kettle, though you don’t need to unplug your fridge.
4. It Poses a Fire Hazard
If you have been asking, “Should I charge my phone during a thunderstorm,” know that doing so can pose a fire hazard.
If your phone overheats due to a power surge, it can even catch on fire.
So, if you are not watching, the fire can spread. Even if you and your family don’t get hurt, you can still lose a lot in property damages.
Note: It’s always worth having smoke alarms in your apartment, as well as fire insurance to cover property damage caused by fires.
Can I Use My Phone During a Storm?
While you don’t want to charge your cellphone during a thunderstorm, there is no reason why you shouldn’t use it.
As long as it has enough power, using your mobile phone doesn’t pose any risk to the phone or you.
Lightning can’t travel through the cellular networks to harm you.
Tip: If you don’t know how long the thunderstorm will last, use your phone in low-battery mode to conserve power.
Don’t Use Your Landline During a Thunderstorm
While it’s perfectly okay to use a cellphone during a storm, you should never use a landline.
Since the landline is connected to the phone lines via wires, there is a risk of electricity traveling through the phone lines and reaching you.
In that scenario, not only can it damage your phone, but it can electrocute you.
The risk is, again, low. However, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Here is why.
You Can Get Electrocuted
People have died due to talking on landline phones during thunderstorms. It’s happened in the United States and around the world.
According to Snopes, around one person dies from talking on the phone during a lightning storm every year.
That’s pretty rare, considering the number of thunderstorms each year, but it’s a chance you shouldn’t take.
Exception: You Can Use a Cordless Landline Phone
You may have a cordless landline phone at home. In that case, treat it like a wireless cell phone.
Lightning can travel through wires, but not through the radio frequencies that your cordless phone uses. Cordless phones are safe to use during thunderstorms.
Don’t Use Your Cellphone Outside
While using a cellphone during a storm is safe, that’s only true if you use it inside.
On the other hand, if you are using it outside, it can be risky. However, that’s not due to your phone attracting lightning.
No, Your Cellphone Doesn’t Attract Lightning
According to Weather.gov, it’s a common myth that metal attracts lightning.
Whether it’s your jewelry, cellphone, cordless phone, watch, or even a metal stick or fence, nothing “attracts” lightning.
Metal can indeed conduct lightning, though. That’s why it is recommended to stay away from metal if outside during a storm.
You Can Still Get Hurt
Getting hit by a lightning strike is very rare. However, while the chances are low, it’s still not safe to be talking outside on your cell phone during a storm.
It’s not recommended to be outside while it’s thundering, period. Whether you’re talking on your phone or not doesn’t make any impact at all.
However, you should always stay inside during a storm.
Crouching or lying flat on the ground won’t help protect you from lightning bolts. Lying on the ground will increase your risk of being hit by lightning.
Staying under a tall tree will do the same. If you can’t get good cellular reception inside, don’t leave the house! Wait until the storm has passed, and then go outside.
Tip: Stay away from the windows while it is storming, even if you get better reception near the windows.
Things That Reduce Your Risk When Charging a Phone During a Storm
Many buildings these days, particularly tall buildings, are equipped with lightning protection systems.
Things like grounding, circuit breakers, and surge protectors can all help protect your home from lightning and your appliances from getting fried.
However, not all homes have enough protection built-in, and none of those protections are 100% effective.
That’s why it’s better to wait until the storm is over before charging your phone.
If you know that a storm is coming, completely charge your phone first, so you won’t have to do that later. Do the same for your tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices.
The Alternative to Charging Your Phone During a Thunderstorm
You may want to buy a mobile power bank to charge your phone during a storm. You can get power banks from retail stores like Target or online marketplaces like Amazon.
They can cost as little as $10. Some even have two USB slots, so you can charge two phones simultaneously.
Just make sure to fully charge the power bank beforehand. Just like you shouldn’t charge your phone during a storm, you also shouldn’t charge a power bank.
Since the power bank doesn’t have to be connected to the wall, it’s safe to use it to charge your phone.
Besides, if your house loses power, having a power bank will come in handy.
Read Next: Can Tornadoes Pick Up Cars?
Hopefully, this article has answered the question, “Can I charge my phone during a thunderstorm?”
The answer is simple: Most of the time, nothing will happen if you do it.
However, there is a risk that your phone could be damaged, which is why you should avoid it and wait until the storm is over.
You should also avoid talking on your landline phone (when connected with wires) or with your wireless phone outside, though using your cellphone inside is okay.