Is it Safe to Use a Porta Potty in a Thunderstorm?

This is a question that we get sometimes in the stormy summer months, so we figured we’d answer it here.
During a storm when there is thunder and lightning, finding a safe place to wait out the bad weather is incredibly important. For that reason, seeking shelter inside a porta potty is not advised.

Simply put, when a storm hits, there are safer places to go than inside a portable toilet. However,

if you’re already inside of one when a storm hits, you don’t need to get out immediately and run to a different location. Staying inside and finishing your business is usually safe.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Unit


A porta john is made of plastic and has a fairly low profile, which makes it a reasonably safe location during a summer storm. The solid plastic construction makes a portable toilet a safer location than other places in a storm, much like a car, which is grounded with rubber tires.

These factors make it a lower risk for getting struck by lightning, but it’s not impossible for it to get hit by lightning. It’s certainly safer than other alternatives like a permanent structure with a metal roof.


The most important consideration when it comes to assessing safety during a storm is your surroundings. A porta potty placed in the middle of a wide, flat field is going to be a bigger target for lightning than a unit that is placed among mature trees, telephone poles, and other tall items. That being said, a portable toilet that is close to a tall tree may be at risk if the tree gets struck and it arcs to the nearby toilet unit. This is rare, but it can create a dangerous situation if it gets hit when someone is inside.

As a rule of thumb, a porta potty is at about as much risk as you are for getting struck by lightning. That means that when it’s the tallest thing around or very close to the tallest thing around, the risk is higher than when there are other tall items around to attract the lightning.

Storm Conditions

It’s important to remember that lightning isn’t the only hazard during a storm. High winds can be just as dangerous!
Typically, the vents in a portable toilet allow air to pass through the top of the unit allowing for ventilation, but during a storm excessive wind can pose a tipping hazard for any porta potty because of its shape. While this risk can typically be minimized by placing the unit on level ground, it cannot be avoided entirely. If you are ever in a storm with high winds, try to stay out of a porta john to avoid becoming the victim of a tip over.

Kerkstra Luxury Portable Restroom Service Inc. provides portable restroom service across Michigan and luxury restroom trailers for all of the states surrounding the Great Lakes. Take a look at our mobile restroom trailers and request a quote today!