Lightning is an underrated danger and the second leading cause of storm-related deaths in the U.S., exceeded only by floods.
According to State Farm spokesperson Kip Diggs, “Damage from lightning strikes in 2012 cost State Farm more than $200 million in insurance claims and Tennessee was fifth in the nation with more than $12.5 million in claims.”
Even though lightning is weather-related and not a preventable event, there are ways to reduce your chance of damage from a power surge or fire.
Spring and summer are the times of year when lightning is most frequent. In 2012 alone, lightning strikes cost nearly $1 billion in insured losses, according to theInsurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). As the number of electronics in homes and businesses rises, so does the risk of damage. Plasma and high-definition television sets, home entertainment centers, multiple computers, smart phones, gaming systems and other expensive devices continue to have a significant impact on the number of claims.
Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 23-29, 2013 and the theme this year is “Helping to Build Lightning Safe Communities”. Consider the following tips to protect your home or business:
- For protection from lightning strikes in the general area of your home or an externally produced surge, a whole-house surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage or a fire.
- Install additional protection for important or expensive electronic equipment. This should include localized surge protection for power cords to the electronic equipment and any telephone and cable/satellite TV lines connecting to the equipment.
- Make sure all equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled.
- Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt. The system neither attracts nor repels a strike, but receives the stroke and routes it harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. Be sure the lightning protection system is designed and installed in accordance with accepted industry standards.
Last year twenty eight people were killed by lightning. In fact, 85% of lightning victims are children and young men ages 10-35 engaged in recreation or work. To prevent death or injury, the Lightning Protection Institute advises the following:
- Treat lightning with proper caution. If you are outside and a thunderstorm approaches, immediately seek shelter inside a fully enclosed building.
- If a building is not available, take shelter in a car with a metal top and keep doors and windows closed.
- Certain locations are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms. Avoid lakes, beaches or open water; fishing from a boat or dock; and riding on golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles. Never seek shelter under a tree!
- If caught outdoors, try to minimize your risk by going to a place of lower elevation.
- Stay off the telephone. In your home, do not stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay away from the TV, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves. Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hairdryers.
Kip Diggs, State Farm Insurance