If you live in a city with stormy weather, you’ve probably asked yourself “is it safe to use a laptop during thunderstorm?”
Most of us have electronics in our homes that we want to use, even when the weather’s bad.
Maybe you’ve got a paper due tomorrow or you’re running a home-based business. Whatever the case, you’ve got to keep that laptop going during a thunderstorm.
However, you don’t want to get electrocuted or destroy your computer!
Fortunately, it’s safe to use your laptop during a thunderstorm as long as you don’t plug it in. Use your laptop’s battery power, which can last four hours or more.
Once the weather’s cleared up, you can plug your laptop back in to recharge its battery.
Why is Using Plugged-In Electronics During a Thunderstorm Dangerous?
Thunderstorms produce lightning. When a storm’s rolling through your area, that means lightning is close by.
It can strike your home, trees in your yard, or travel through your home’s appliances, outlets, and pipes.
So, how does that impact you and your electronics? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be electrocuted.
I also don’t want to start a house fire or damage my laptop. They can be expensive to replace!
Plus, I rely on my laptop to run a home-based business, pay bills, and communicate with the outside world. If my laptop stopped working, I’d be in a rock and hard place.
This is why you should invest in surge protectors for any device you leave plugged into an outlet.
Surge protectors can prevent major appliances from being damaged.
However, surge protectors don’t make it safe to use plugged-in electronics during a thunderstorm.
Is it Safe to Use a Laptop During Thunderstorms?
So, you’ve got to keep that laptop on and gnarly-looking clouds are forming over your neighborhood. You can’t afford to lose a few hours or even a day.
Is it safe to use a laptop during a thunderstorm? Here’s what I recommend you do.
Unplug Your Laptop
You should do this immediately. And I don’t mean just disconnecting the power cord from the laptop.
Remove the cord from the outlet and put it in a safe place. Anything that’s on or in standby mode should be unplugged from your outlets if it’s not on a surge protector.
Tip: Surge protectors let you turn the flow of electricity off without unplugging all your cords.
Check Your Modem
Do you need to stay connected to the internet during a thunderstorm? Make sure your modem is plugged into a surge protector.
However, it’s still possible your internet will go out during a strong thunderstorm.
Your ISP’s equipment could be struck and go out. The power could also go out during a storm, taking your internet service and modem offline.
Be prepared to save any work you’re doing to your laptop’s hard drive or a USB drive.
Note: In emergency and urgent situations, you can use your smartphone’s hotspot if your internet service goes out.
Use Your Laptop’s Battery
Hopefully, your laptop’s battery is fully charged. With a full charge, your laptop should be good to go for four hours.
Some batteries last a little longer, though. It depends on your laptop’s model specs.
If you see the battery life is fading, don’t plug it back in whatever you do. Should lightning strike, the surge in electricity could fry your computer’s motherboard.
When this happens, your laptop won’t reboot and you’ll have to replace either the motherboard or the entire computer.
Save Your Work
When you’re using battery power, there’s always the chance your laptop will shut down unexpectedly.
Sometimes I find myself so fixated on my work that I forget to check how much battery life is left. And I’ve found that battery life indicators aren’t 100% reliable.
So, getting the most important work out of the way is what I do. I also make sure I’m saving my work at every opportunity.
As soon as I make changes to a document, I hit that save button. And if I’m doing research, I make sure I bookmark, download, and copy and paste what I need to.
Tip: You can download and save copies of online and shared documents to your laptop’s hard drive.
Wait Until the Storm’s Over to Plug Back In
Think you can charge your laptop’s battery back up during the storm? Think again!
If your battery dies while there’s still lightning out, let your laptop sit unplugged.
Once the storm is over, you can plug your laptop back in or turn the surge protector back on.
But before you do, take a look outside or check Doppler radar on your cell phone.
Are the clouds and lightning strikes still within a five to 10-mile radius? If so, it’s better to wait and be safe than sorry.
Note: You can use the laptop while it’s plugged in and charging.
How Can I Protect Myself and My Laptop During a Thunderstorm?
The best thing you can do is leave your laptop off and unplugged during a thunderstorm.
If you plug your laptop into a surge protector, turn it off and verify the plug doesn’t have power going through it.
Many power cords have a light that illuminates when it’s hot or active.
Check Your Cord
What if your power cord doesn’t have a light? Feel the power brick that’s in between the cord that goes into your laptop and the part that plugs in.
Is it hot or warm to the touch? If so, there’s a high chance there’s electricity going through it.
The only way to be 100% sure that you’ve killed the power to your laptop is to unplug everything from an outlet.
Stay Away from Windows
It may be tempting to set up shop with your laptop near a window. After all, you can keep a close eye on the storm as it moves through.
But your home’s windows usually contain metals that electricity loves. You’re more likely to get electrocuted if lightning strikes too close.
Also, you may have trees located near your home’s windows. This is another no-no.
Because trees have height, it’s easier for lightning to strike them. Trees in your yard are more likely to be struck by a fast-moving bolt.
Don’t Sit Outside
This should go without saying, but some of us are adventurous. However, sitting out on your patio or front porch with your laptop isn’t a smart move.
For starters, you’re setting yourself and your laptop up as targets. Do laptops attract lightning?
There are metals contained in your laptop that can. Plus, porches and patios tend to be near windows and landscaping like trees.
While it may be warm enough outside and relaxing to watch and hear the rain, it’s best to do that without your laptop.
You don’t want your laptop to get wet. Water can damage your keyboard, screen, battery, and other internal parts.
Keep Away from Bathrooms and Kitchens
Any room in your home that has plumbing is potentially dangerous during a thunderstorm.
The exception is if you’re in a tornado warning and the only basement or interior room without windows is a bathroom.
That’s because plumbing contains materials that attract electricity and help it flow through. Find another place to use your laptop during the storm.
Read Next: Does Weather Affect WiFi Signal Strength?
Is it safe to use a laptop during a thunderstorm? Yes, as long as you’re smart about it. Make sure you unplug your laptop and use its battery for power.
Don’t go outside with it or set up shop in your bathroom or near your kitchen sink.
Instead, find an area that doesn’t have windows or a place where you can maintain some distance from them. Save your work often and only use your laptop during a storm if you have to.