Lightning can be damaging and dangerous. Take these safety precautions.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
The lightning shows that often accompany summer thunderstorms can be beautiful and exciting. They can also be damaging and dangerous. This page contains information to help keep you and your property safe during these electrifying displays.
Although lightning is weather-related, and not a preventable event, opportunities exist for claim mitigation. Damage is generally caused by power surges carried by electrical wiring, TV cable, or phone lines serving the home or business and usually involve one or more electronic items. Use surge or current protection devices and appropriate grounding systems as most claims are surge or power related.
In 2016 there were 38 lightning deaths in the United States, compared with 26 in 2015 and 2014. From 2006 to 2016, on average, about 31 people died each year from lightning strikes in the United States, according to the National Weather Service. Florida had the most lightning deaths in 2016 with nine, followed by four in Louisiana and New York, according to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mississippi reported three deaths, and Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas had two lightning deaths. Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin each reported one death.
- Number of lightning-related homeowners insurance claims up in 2016, but severity down.
- Top 10 states for the number of lightning strikes: FL, TX, GA, LA, NC, CA, AL, IL, AR, VA.
Interesting Lightning Facts, Tips and Resources from Leading Organizations
The National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS)
Taking shelter under trees is dangerous. Recent studies of lightning victims showed several highly-vulnerable situations and activities. But the one that stood out was taking shelter under trees.
Visit the NOAA website to learn how to stay safe and get insight into the science of lightning. You'll find animated books about lightning, safety tips for all kinds of situations, games for kids and resources for teachers. You'll learn about lightning victims and survivors.
Insurance Information Institute (III)
Lightning temperature: up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit
Number of times lightning hits the Earth per second: 100 (an estimated 8,640,000 times a day)
Distance lightning can strike away from a thunderstorm: 5-10 miles
75% of U.S. lightning deaths occur in June, July, and August
Lightning causes 30,000 house fires in U.S. per year
Central Florida leads the nation in lightning strikes. Meteorologists have dubbed an area stretching from Tampa to Titusville as “Lightning Alley”. This is because several times a year abundant moisture in the atmosphere combines with high surface temperatures to produce strong sea breezes and violent summer storms.
Lightning Protection Institute
Consumer Alert: The Dangers of Shoddy Lightning Protection System Installations
30% of U.S. businesses suffer damage from lightning storms.
85% of lightning victims are children and young men ages 10-35 engaged in recreation or work.
20% of lightning strike victims die and 70% of survivors suffer serious long-term effects.
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)
Lightning is an underrated danger and the second leading cause of storm-related deaths in the U.S., exceeded only by floods.
Lightning can travel 90,000 miles per second.
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)
A whole-house surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage or a fire.
Install additional protection for important or expensive electronic equipment. This should include localized surge protection for power cords to electronic equipment and any telephone and cable/satellite TV lines connecting to the equipment.
Whole house surge protection will not protect you from a direct strike on your house. For added protection from a direct strike, you would need to add receptors on the roof and cables that would help direct the strike away from the interior of your house.
Lightning strikes the U.S. 25 million times a year on average. This causes an estimated $1 billion per year in structural damages in the United States alone. This does not include the large costs associated with loss of business, downtime and liability.
Adding a lightning protection system to a building increases protection from physical damage and reduces the possibility of fire. Many insurers now require the installation of lightning protection systems. This is found in commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, historic landmarks and public venues.
Severe weather storms can produce hail, wind gusts, heavy rain, and lightning. These can cause flash flooding, wind damage, downed trees and utility lines and widespread power outages. Be prepared!
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