My husband and I sleep in a heavy iron bed. Every time there is an electrical storm, I wonder if we are safe there. We are 500′ up, on an island in Big Rideau Lake, and the cottage has been struck by lightning once already. We have installed lightning rods, but I still wonder about the bed.
–Dodie West, Portland, Ont.
Current from a lightning strike is not likely to hit your bed because the bed’s not grounded. Bill Chisholm, a lightning expert at Ontario Hydro, explains: Your cottage would be hit at one of the high points of the roof (probably the lightning rod) and the lightning would then travel down through the conductor. Assuming it’s the right size, the ground wire used as the conductor would offer the path of least resistance and the lightning would eventually exit through the ground terminal outside your cottage.
If the conductor does not offer low enough resistance, however, there is the possibility of a side flash – an arc of lightning from the conductor to something of lower resistance, such as an electrical heater, or your wiring or plumbing system. A metal bed would attract the current more than a wood one. In the unlikely event a side flash to the bed did occur, however, you’d be safer in an iron bed than a wood one because the iron would conduct the current and keep it away from you.