Is Your Home Safe From Lightning Strikes?

One important bit of advice to remember is that if thunder is audible and lightning is visible, it is time to take cover. Failing to do so could be a deadly mistake. There are many people who enjoy thunderstorms, and some people are fascinated by watching the bright flashes of lightning flicker across the sky or count the number of seconds between a flash and the thunder. Lightning is one of the most dangerous forces in nature, so it is important to take the right steps to protect the home, property and especially life from lightning.

When lightning can be seen, do not use phones that are land lines. Also, do not turn on the water faucet to wash hands or take a shower during a storm. Lightning charges will follow through metal wires and pipes, and water is a good 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. This means not only a land phone would be destroyed but also televisions, computers and other electronics that are plugged into electrical outlets could be rendered useless. Some homeowners insurance policies may not cover damages due to lightning strikes. A simple and easy way to avoid finding out is to just unplug all electronics as soon as a storm is approaching. Even if antennas are grounded, disconnect them. 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 that strikes close by is powerful enough to ruin the surge protector as well. What is even scarier than it ruining electronics is that it can jump through surge protectors and across an entire room. When it does this, it is called side flashing, and side flashes are dangerous to anyone or anything in their path.

Lowering the risks of a fire is also an important step. Putting up lightning rods may help this, but it 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. Some buildings have lightning rods on top of them. These are useful for catching the strike, but lightning can still jump and ruin wiring or cables on top of the building. When lightning hits the ground, a tree or a building, it does not simply travel straight down. The current will spread in several directions, so anything or anyone nearby will not be safe. Being hit with lightning indirectly is almost as dangerous as being hit directly.

When a person is injured or killed from a lightning strike, it may not be the most popular news material. However, there are far more deaths and injuries from lightning every year than what is reported on the news. It is never safe to assume it will not happen, because lightning is unpredictable. Every homeowner should know in advance what is or is not covered in the event of lightning strikes. To learn more about home insurance and lightning strikes, discuss concerns with your agent.