American Red Cross
• Unlike other natural hazards that affect specific regions of the country, numerous states are exposed to lightning. While some areas, such as Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas have more frequent lightning, it can strike anywhere given the right weather conditions so it is important for everyone to understand their lightning risk.
• Lightning does not need to actually directly strike a home or business to induce a power surge and cause extensive damage, ranging from loss of expensive electronic equipment to structure fires. 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 receives and routes the electrical strike into the earth, thereby discharging it and eliminating the danger. An effective option is the installation of surge protection on the electrical service to the property.
• For protection from lightning strikes in the general area of your home and externally produced surge, a whole-house surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage or a fire. It is important to make sure that it is either a secondary surge arrestor tested to IEEE C62.11 or a transient voltage suppressor that has been tested to UL 1449, 2nd Edition. Many utility companies provide these systems.
• High winds and hail during a thunderstorm also can cause damage. Roofs are frequently damaged during high winds. In fact, roof cover damage is present in 85 percent to 95 percent of wind-related insured property losses each year. Building science research has identified many affordable ways to strengthen roofs against wind damage. Among the most important factors are how well the roof is connected and the age and type of the roof covering.
To learn more about how you and your family can stay safe during severe thunderstorms, check out our Thunderstorm Safety Check List!