Most lightning strikes occur during the summer months of July and August. According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills an average of 49 people every year in the US. Here are some tips to stay safe this summer while protecting your home and electronics from damage.
If you’re outside at a sporting event, mowing the lawn, or on the golf course, try to find shelter in a solid structure or hard-top vehicle at the first sign of a storm. Remember the saying, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” If that’s not possible, stay away from trees, poles, and other high objects and stay as low as possible. Get as far away as you possibly can from pools, lakes, and other bodies of water, even puddles. Plan ahead when camping or boating by monitoring weather forecasts and staying home if bad weather is on the way.
If you’re indoors when bad weather approaches, stay away from windows and doors. A covered porch will not provide safety from a lightning strike. You should avoid contact with water when indoors as well. The dirty dishes and laundry can wait, and stay out of the bath or shower. Put away your phone and unplug your electronics. Read that book you’ve been meaning to finish instead.
Lightning Protection for Your Home
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida ranked #1 in homeowners insurance claims due to damages caused by lightning strikes last year. With 10,440 claims at an average of over $7,000 per claim, $73.9 million dollars was paid to homeowners due to damages caused by lightning strikes in Florida alone.
The best way to protect your home is by having a Lightning Protection System installed. A lightning protection system consists of metallic rods, heavy-duty cable, and a solid grounding terminal. The cable connects the lightning rods to the ground. Lightning rods do not attract lightning; they simply provide a safe path for the lightning current to flow. The American Meteorological Society has a lot of information regarding the installation and maintenance of lightning protection systems. These systems are custom-designed for individual structures and require complex engineering to function properly. They should only be installed by qualified contractors.
When it comes to your electronic devices, surge protectors will provide some degree protection from everyday power line spikes, power surges and distant lightning strikes. However nothing can guarantee absolute protection from a direct or very close strike.
The best, and cheapest, way to protect your stereo, television, computer, or any electronic appliance is to unplug all power, telephone, and cable connections during a thunderstorm. A television can be replaced, but special consideration should be given to irreplaceable items such as the information saved on your computer, like photos or videos. Perform frequent offsite backups or store the data on an external hard drive that you can access if your computer is damaged beyond repair and all data is unrecoverable.
While it’s true that the number of lightning strikes in Florida nearly doubles during the summer months, lightning can strike any time of the year, sparking fires and causing injury or even death to individuals who were most likely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keep your eyes and ears open throughout the year to keep your family and property safe from harm when storms approach.