Science Technology Is It Safe to Use a Cell Phone During a Thunderstorm? By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated October 11, 2018 CC BY 2.0. Lloyd Alter Share Twitter Pinterest Email Science Space Natural Science Technology Agriculture Energy It is odd where they put their safety priorities in China. I noted in an earlier post that they let people ride four to a scooter but then mandate side guards on trucks; they also let people choke on pollution but are preoccupied with the dangers of cellphones during thunderstorms. Great typography and layout too/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0 I asked my tour guide at the Temple of Heaven and she said that people have died doing this, that it is a serious problem; a quick google search found that yes, a man was killed in Kuala Lumpur in 1999, struck by lightning while talking on his cell phone. However, the consensus seems to be that there is no danger because there is no grounded connection. The Chicago Tribune weighs in: Using a corded telephone during a thunderstorm is discouraged because the phone is physically connected by wires to the outside. A cellphone, however, has no such physical connection and the electric current from a nearby lightning strike cannot reach it. It is perfectly safe to use a cellphone during a thunderstorm. Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0 It's terrific that the Chinese authorities are so worried about our welfare in thunderstorms but I suspect there are bigger fish to fry.