General Safety and Lightning Strikes

One of the most common but least talked-about dangers to people and property is lightning. Although only a handful of people (less than 100) are killed by direct lightning strikes every year, many more are killed by fires caused by lightning. In addition, billions of dollars are lost in property damage and insurance payouts due to lightning. Knowing what to do during a lightning storm and protecting property from strikes can reduce these losses.

If you are caught outdoors during a lightning storm, the safest thing you can do is get inside quickly. The safest place to take shelter in is a functioning building with a roof. A building with working electricity and plumbing is even safer, as the electric surge from the strike will be guided into the ground by wires and pipes. Stay away from appliances, electronics, and plumbing during the storm though.

Being in a vehicle is safer than being unprotected outside during a lightning storm. Only vehicles with hard metal tops can really be considered safe, however. A golf cart with a canvas roof provides poor protection. Be careful not to touch any of the electronic equipment in the vehicle, such as a CB radio.

Protecting your home from fire damage is a relatively routine affair. Your home, if properly built, should have a lightning protection system. The damage from a lightning strike comes from the electrical surge in the wiring of your home. A strike and the ensuing electrical surge can cause sparks and then fire. If the wiring is properly grounded and insulated, your home should have ample protection. In areas where lightning storms are common, many homeowners seek extra protection through lightning rods that divert electricity to a location away from the home. Your home insurance should offer you financial protection from a lightning strike. It would not hurt to talk to your insurer to see what kind of coverage you have regarding lightning-induced fires and other damage.


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