Safety Measures to Take During a Lightning Storm

Tornadoes and other weather-associated storms throughout the U.S. cause damage to homes totaling nearly $5 billion annually, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Lightning strikes during intense storms cause their share of damage as well. In addition, according to data gathered by the I.I.I, there were over 180,000 lightning claims in 2011, down nearly 13% from 2010, but the average lightning claim was just over $5,000, up 5.5% from the previous year.

While the average cost per claim rose 93% from 2004-2011, the actual number of paid claims fell by over 33% during this period. This decline may be contributed to increased use of lightning protection systems.
 
“The number of paid claims is down, but the average cost per claim continues to rise, in part because of the huge increase in the number and value of consumer electronics in homes,” said Loretta Worters, vice-president of the I.I.I. “Plasma and high-definition television sets, home entertainment centers, multiple computer households, smart phones, gaming systems and other expensive devices—which can all be destroyed by power surges—continue to have a significant impact on claims losses. ”

The increased claim costs may be due, in part, to a spike in consumer electronics prices. Product shortages from places such as Thailand and Japan in 2011-2012, which were affected by supply chain issues, may have also been a factor in the increased claim costs.

Damage caused by, such as fire, is covered by most standard homeowners and some insurance policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike. But it is always a good idea to try to prevent risk and avert damage whenever possible.

Damage caused by lightning , such as fire, is covered by most standard homeowners and some insurance policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike. But it is always a good idea to try to prevent risk and avert damage whenever possible. 

Homeowners, Businesses: How to Reducing the Risk of Lightning Damage

Consider the following tips from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to protect homes and businesses against lightning. 

Have a lightning protection system installed
Include protection for electrical, telephone, cable or satellite TV lines entering the structure
Ensure the lightning protection system is designed and installed in accordance with accepted industry standards and with National Fire Protection Association, Lightning Protection Institute and UL requirements
Make sure all equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled.

Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure by routing electrical strikes harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. A lightning protection system is designed to protect property and equipment.
 

Things to Do for Lightning Safety

Common safety practices to consider during a lightning storm:

Treat lightning with proper caution. If outside during a thunderstorm immediately seek shelter inside in a home, large building or substantial, fully enclosed building, all preferably protected with a lightning protection system.
If a building is not available, take shelter in a car with a metal top and keep doors and windows closed.
If caught outdoors, try to minimize risk by going to a place of lower elevation.
To avoid side flashes (voltage from a nearby struck object) stay clear of fences or isolated trees.

Things Not to Do in a Lightning Storm

Certain locations and activities are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms:

Avoid lakes, beaches or open water; fishing from a boat or dock; and
Do not ride on golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles.
Never take shelter under a tree
Keep away from telephone poles, power lines, pipelines or other electrically conductive objects.
Stay off the telephone.
Do not stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping.
Stay away from the TV, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves.
Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as cell phones, radios, toasters and hairdryers.