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Should You Bathe During a Thunderstorm? Expert Answers on Bathing Questions

Baby shower head

Should you bathe your child every day? Should you bathe yourself everyday? Which is healthier – a bath or shower? And should you really heed the old advice to avoid bathing during a thunderstorm. Experts from pediatricians to the National Weather Service answer these and more of your cleanliness questions.

How Often Should You Bathe Children?

Dr. David Geller, pediatrician, says “it depends.” Bathing is really necessary only to clean your child off when he or she gets dirty. If she spends most of her time in the house reading or watching television, every couple of days is fine. If he is outdoors playing in mud puddles and jumping around on the playground, you probably should consider a daily bath.

If you have a child that resists bathing, on days when he is not very dirty, try wiping him off with a damp washcloth instead.

How Often Should Adults Bathe?

Do we really need to take a bath or shower each and every day to stay healthy? Probably not, says anthropologist Stephen Juan PhD of the University of Sydney. Most of us honestly do not get that dirty during a typical day.

In these modern times, we most often bathe for social and aesthetic reasons rather than for good health. Remember that in our grandparents’ time, they typically bathed once a week. Standards in the degree of tolerance of body smells were different than they are today. We are much less tolerant of body odor than our forefathers.

Whether you take a shower or bath every day is completely up to you and your lifestyle choices. If you do physical work versus office work, exercise vigorously, or spend time around odors (cooking, people smoking), then you may wish to take a daily bath. In the summer months, we may bathe more than in winter months because of the heat. And of course, a relaxing bath at the end of a stressful day is probably just about anyone’s idea of heaven-on-earth.

Which is Healthier – A Shower or Bath?

Do you feel like you don’t really get completely clean in a bath because you are sitting in water that is no longer dirt-free? But what about the relaxing nature of the bath? While this may be hotly debated, it still just comes down to personal preference.

Vincent Summers, a retired chemist, examined available reliable data (from university studies versus personal blogs) and found that both showers and baths can get a person equally clean. There are a few facts to consider, however. First, in the shower, are you able to reach all of the parts of you that need to be cleaned? If not, soaking in a tub may get you cleaner.

Second, how clean is your bathroom? A University of Colorado-Boulder study found that showerheads can harbor tiny bacterial clumps, such as Mycobacterium avium. These pathogenic bacteria, capable of causing pulmonary disease, can be transferred in the droplets that strike the face during a shower. M. avium could also accumulate on the inside of a soap-scum coated shower curtain.

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Third, certain health conditions may make a shower more advisable. Those with certain skin conditions, such as eczema, should take care of the excess drying of the skin that would occur with a hot bath or a long shower. Women with yeast infections should opt for a shower instead of the bath.

Lastly, consider accidents. There are more tub-related injuries, sometimes serious, than there are shower-related injuries. These are especially true for small children and the elderly to could easily be scalded in a tub or could fall and drown in even a small amount of water. Everyone, regardless of age, should be careful when exiting either a shower or tub, as slipping on the wet, slick surfaces during entrance or exit is a dangerous concern.

Does A Shower Really Save More Water than a Bath?

You often hear that a person uses less water in the average shower than during the typical bath, but is that really true? According to the Department of Energy, no. The average shower consumes 12 gallons of water while the average bath uses only 9. The study, however, was based on data from only 10 homes in the Seattle area in 2000. The answer obviously depends upon how long you stand in the shower versus the capacity of your bathtub.

Consumer Reports suggests that if you want to save water, spend a limited time in the shower (the California Energy Commission suggests four minutes), use a low-flow showerhead, and turn off any supplemental showerheads in each stall.

When Can My Child Safely Take a Shower?

Dr. Gellar says that when your child can stand in a shower stall and tolerate the feeling of water hitting her body from above, she can start taking showers. Of course, most young children would rather sit and play in a tube than stand and scrub in a shower, so wait until they show an interest in showering. Around age 6, he or she can start showering alone, as long as you are nearby to help. As with a tub bath, never leave a child unsupervised.

To get a child used to the shower jets, start by holding him in your arms. This secure feeling will help make the transition from bath to shower easier. Ensure that there is a secure non-skid mat on the shower or tub floor. Teach him how to use the soap or body wash and a washcloth to clean all body parts and how to stand so the water will rinse him off completely.

Do I Really Need to Avoid Bathing During a Thunderstorm?

The National Weather Service advises against showering or bathing during a storm that contains lightning in the event that a bolt strikes one of your home’s water pipes and electrifies your bathroom. Mythbusters decided to test this theory using a makeshift house, complete with grounded plumbing, and then dousing it with simulated lightning. A ballistics gel dummy used in place of an actual person in the shower wore a heart monitor to test electrical conductivity.

Unfortunately, the heart monitor failed, because the 700,000 volts of fake lightning arced the water pipes and jumped into the shower, causing a fire.

So yes, it is advisable to avoid taking a bath or shower during a storm.

Consumer Reports