Did you know that as lightning passes through the air, it heats it up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun? Now imagine this same bolt of lightning also revving up with 300 million volts of power. That’s enough energy to light an incandescent 100-watt light bulb for about three months or a florescent light bulb for a year, according to the Lightning Protection Institute.
“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors”
The motto of the Lightning Protection Institute couldn’t be truer. When you are outside during a thunderstorm, you are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes, which are unpredictable in when and what they hit. The worst places to be outside include:
• Open areas such as soccer fields
• Near water – such as swimming pools
• Under trees
But don’t let the far away grumbles of a storm fool you. Lightning can hit up to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. So, when you are alerted to an oncoming storm, bring your loved ones indoors and stay put.
While being inside is definitely safer than being outside, don’t be lured by a false sense of security within your four walls. Up to 1/3 of all lightning related injuries occur indoors, including those that result from fire. When inside the home, the Lightning Protection Institute recommends the following safety precautions:
• Do not touch corded phones and wires
• Do not touch electrical cords; unplug your computers and other appliances before a storm arrives
• Do not touch plumbing; including the laundry machine, dishwasher, shower or faucets
Protecting Your Biggest Investment
Protecting your home from lightening is a key message of Lightening Awareness Week, which runs from June 21st to June 27th. A very effective way to do this is to install a Lightning Protection System (LPS), which is a network of components designed to intercept a lightning strike and provide it a path that leads it into the ground, rather than hitting the house. The LPS includes a whole-house surge protector as well as other mechanisms, including lightning rods and individual component surge protectors, designed to ground and discharge the electricity. It can be installed by a licensed professional or Master Installer (a list of Master Installers in your area can be found through the Lightening Protection Institute at: http://lightning.org/).