Lightning Safety Tips for Your Home
To describe something unlikely to occur, you may have heard the phrase, “you’re more likely to get struck by lightning”. After all, only 20 people were struck and killed by lighting in the U.S. in 2018.
You may think taking cover indoors completely protects you in a lightning storm, but you still have to take precautions. Lightning can travel through pipes and wires, delivering up to one billion volts of electricity. If you’re not careful, your odds of injury significantly increase.
As you think ahead to spring and summer, continue to protect yourself once indoors.
How Lightning Enters Your Home
There are a couple pathways lightning can travel into your home. The first is through wires, cables or metal pipes that start from the outside and pass into your home. It also has potential to get in through an open window, door or garage. From here, the lightning’s high current may pass through your home’s electrical, phone, cable and plumbing systems and any metal wires or rebar in concrete slabs or flooring.
For these reasons, corded devices end up being the top cause of indoor lightning injures. As such, avoid computers, game consoles and corded phones once a storm begins. Also, stay away from televisions that use an outside cable or satellite system.
How to Stay Safe During a Lightning Storm
Once you hear thunder or see bolts of lightning, be sure to:
- Stay away from where water is used in your home, including sinks and showers.
- Do not use electronics that are powered through your electrical system, including older radios and TVs. While corded phones should be avoided, cellular and cordless devices are safe to use during a lightning storm.
- Stay away from concrete. Although concrete itself is not a conductive material, the metal rebar inside is, and it creates a clear pathway for the lightning’s current once it strikes. For this reason, don’t stand, sit on or lean against concrete during a storm.
- Keep all windows and doors closed. Avoid sitting out on your porch or in the garage to watch the storm – this is an easy way to get injured.
- Stay inside your house. Canopies, sheds and tents offer little-to-no protection from the storm and are not considered adequate shelter.
- Avoid metal objects. Whether it’s an appliance, door frame or window in your home, anything made of metal may act as a conductor if your house is hit.
Install a Lightning Protection System
If your home has been struck before or is located close to tall trees, consider outfitting your home with a lightning protection system. This will create a path of least resistance to reduce damage to your home and the extent of any injuries. This system may consist of:
- Lightning rods on your roof
- Metal connector cables that act as conductors
- Grounding rods in the yard to direct the current away from your home
- Bonds that connect the lightning rods, grounds and conductors
- Surge suppressors installed in your main electrical panel
Lightning has potential to strike your home or cause a fire, so make sure it’s listed as a peril on your policy. To discuss or update your homeowner’s coverage, give us a call at 800.801.8013.