1981: Person killed from lightning while talking on the phone

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The New York Times reports that chatting on the telephone connected to a land-line during a thunderstorm can electrocute you, it is no urban legend. A bolt of lightning that strikes a telephone line can cause an electrical surge to shoot through the wires and enter a handset. The odds of this are relatively small, and most phone companies have protective measures in place. Still, the risk exists, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends that people avoid using telephones and other appliances during electrical storms. Cases of customers' being jolted while on the phone in a storm are well documented. In fact, on April 13, 1981 a person was killed while talking on the phone in Kincaid, IL when lightning struck an outside telephone line and traveled to the house via a phone line; the phone exploded. What about cell phones? Because the danger comes from lightning traveling through outdoor wiring, cordless and cellular phones are generally safe.

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