Lightning brightens the sky and provides a spectacular display of Mother Nature’s power. This awesome phenomenon also causes more deaths and property destruction in a typical year than floods, hurricanes and tornadoes combined.
Don’t underestimate the dangers of lightning. The threat of lightning danger can occur anytime, but the most likely time for damaging thunderstorms is June through August. The early spring is also a vulnerable period.
Scientifically speaking, lightning is the visible discharge of electrical energy. It is often accompanied by thunder, which is a sonic boom created by the same electrical discharge. This electrical energy seeks a path to ground and that path can be your home, a tree in your yard, or even you. The key to your protection is diverting that discharge to a grounding path away from people and property.
A lightning protection system has two objectives: Provide a direct path for the lightning to follow to the ground and prevent destruction, damage, injury or death as it travels that path.
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Many of you are likely aware of lightning rods. Contrary to typical references to these devices, lightning rods do not attract lightning. They also cannot prevent lightning from striking your home. What they are designed to do is provide that safe path to the ground for the electrical current. Rods are just one part of an effective lightning protection system. If you’re serious about lightning protection, I recommend you have a qualified contractor evaluate your home, explain the many parts of a total system and perform the installation.
While lightning’s first target may be your house, there’s also a need to protect the property inside your home from the electrical surges that accompany a lightning strike. Surge protection devices installed at the main electrical panel or meter and at outlets serving electronics can often prevent these sudden spikes in electrical current from damaging TVs, VCRs, computers and other expensive electronic devices.
Personal safety first. Most importantly, protect yourself. If lightning is present, seek shelter inside an enclosed building or vehicle, stay away from electrical appliances and avoid using the telephone. If you cannot find shelter, stay close to the ground in a low-lying area, avoiding isolated trees, high ground, bodies of water or large open areas. If someone is injured, administer first aid if you are qualified to do so and call for emergency help. You cannot be “shocked” by someone who has been hit by lightning.
Wayne Scroggins, the president and owner of Scroggins Insurance Agency, 6505 Cortez Road, Bradenton, can be reached at (941) 795-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.