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McQuiston: Lightning Strike Prevention

on July 21, 2017 - 8:00am
The Jemez Agency
The summer storm season is upon us and with storms come one of the most fearful and unpredictable forces of nature: lightning. A single bolt of lightning can carry more than 100 million volts of electricity and create a significant amount of damage to your home and personal property.
More than $825 million in lighting damage claims was paid out in 2016 to more than 100,000 policyholders nationwide. There was a total of 109,049 lightning claims in 2016 and each claim averaged $7,571.90 in damages paid.
The top three states for reported lighting damage claims, in order, are Florida, Texas and Georgia. (Insurance Information Institute).
There are two forms of lightning strikes, direct and indirect. A direct lightning strike is when a structure is hit directly and can result in a significant amount of damage and or even fire. An indirect lighting strike is a strike nearby (not directly on a structure; often to a nearby tree or power line), which often causes power surges and less significant damages to personal property and electrical components.
Although lightning is unpredictable, there are a few things that can be done to try and prevent damages to your structure and personal property related to a direct or indirect lightning strike.
Unplug unused electronics if you are going out of town or a nasty storm is on the horizon. Lightning can’t affect what is not plugged in!

Surge protectors and surge suppressors can be used to prevent the entrance of overvoltage to your home. Overvoltage can cause personal property to be damaged and potentially cause a fire from the surge to the electrical panel of your home.
Lightning rods are copper or aluminum rods that are vertically mounted on a roof and are designed to intercept a lightning strike before it hits the structure it is mounted on. Grounds are similar to lightning rods, but they are driven into the ground (about 10 feet) to intercept lightning strikes and cause the dangerous current to be distributed through the ground.
Do not go outside during a lightning storm. You have a higher probability of sustaining a direct lightning strike to your person while in the open or in a body of water. If you are outside seek shelter. Your safety is more important than any property.
Unfortunately lightning is unpredictable, but if you take a few basic precautions you can prevent or minimize a loss to your structure and personal property.