What's the danger?
There are over 25,000,000 cloud to ground (CG) lightning strikes in the United States per year, and Florida is the lightning capital of the US, leading in deaths from lightning by double the second most state. As hot air rises, it pulls in the cooler air from the ocean, mixing together and forming thunderstorms. A lightning strike can create heat five times hotter than the sun (50,000 degrees Fahrenheit), and transfer over 300 million volts of electricity. This sudden burst of electricity and heat can cause significant damage and injury, if the proper precautions are not taken.
The best way to protect your home and valuables is to focus on prevention.
1. Lightning rods. These copper rods should be installed on the roof, to become the highest point on the structure. They are then connected by a transfer cable to copper rods embedded into the ground. This allows the electricity to disperse it’s charge into the earth, rather than inside your home, as it will follow the easiest path of non-resistance to the ground.
2. Surge protectors. While most of us think of power strips for surge protectors, there are also “whole house” surge protectors, that are installed directly into your electrical box. Adding an additional layer of protection can help protect your appliances and HVAC systems, which usually don’t have the option to be protected by a power strip.
3. UPS Surge protector. UPS stands for “Uninterrupted Power Supply”, which means that an internal batter will kick in, once the power goes out. These are helpful for devices that require time to shut down properly, or may contain data / information that needs to be saved before shutting off, such as a computer or server.
During a lightning storm, stay indoors, or inside your vehicle. Once inside your home, keep some distance between you and the windows and doors, as these can shatter by a direct hit. Also, avoid running water, or the use of electronics. Electrical surges through your pipes or electrical wires can cause injury. The safest way to protect your electronic devices is by unplugging them. Even surge protected devices can become damaged by a direct lightning strike.
If your home experiences a direct lightning strike, call the fire department immediately. Electrical fires caused by lightning can start inside your walls or attic, making them hard to detect until it’s too late.