Lightning strikes the United States approximately 25 million times a year. Although most lightning occurs in the summer, it can strike at any time of the year. Lightning kills an average of 49 people in the U.S. each year, and hundreds more are severely injured.
Most of us know that if you hear thunder and see lightning, we should take cover. Failing to do so could prove deadly. Lightning is one of the most dangerous forces in nature; it’s important to take the right steps to protect yourself and your loved ones, as well as your home and property.
When lightning can be seen, it’s best to avoid the use of corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment that may put you in direct contact with electricity. Also, wait until the storm passes before washing your hands or taking a shower. Lightning charges can follow through metal wires and pipes, and water is an excellent conductor of electricity. This means a person touching water that travels through a metal pipe could easily be electrocuted.
It is also important to protect electronics during a storm. When lightning strikes a power line near a home, it will often follow the phone lines or wiring into the house, which could render useless anything plugged into an electrical outlet (your televisions, computers, land phone, etc.). It is recommended that you unplug all electronics when a storm approaches. Disconnect any satellite dishes or Internet connections. Surge protectors can help prevent electronics from being ruined from power spikes and lightning strikes in the distance, but lightning strikes close by can be powerful enough to ruin the surge protector as well. When your home experiences an electric surge or lightning strike, it can also produce what’s called a “side flash”. A side flash is when the electricity jumps across the entire room – they are extremely dangerous to anyone or anything in their path.
What if your home has a lightning rod – should you still be concerned? Lightning rods may help, but they will not protect an entire building from electrical surges. Lightning rods simply make a path for the currents to enter the ground safely, but they do not actually lower the chances of a home being hit by lightning. A lightning rod may catch the initial strike, but the energy can still jump and ruin wiring or cables nearby. Also, when lightning strikes, it does not simply travel straight down into the ground – it will spread in several directions, so anything or anyone nearby could be affected. Being hit with lightning indirectly is almost as dangerous as being hit directly.
Every homeowner should know in advance what is or is not covered in the event of a lightning strike. To find out if you’re covered, contact Gunn-Mowery today.