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Handling Lightning Damage

There are nearly 200,000 homeowners insurance claims filed each year due to lightning strikes. Contrary to popular belief, lightning can indeed strike the same place twice. The Empire State Building is struck by lightning about 100 times a year. You should always take a thunderstorm seriously and understand how dangerous and powerful lightning is.  According to NLSI statistics, 1 out of every 200 homes will be struck by lightning each year.

Tips and Facts about Lightning Safety:

Lightning storm

  • Lightning rods can protect a building from catching fire, not from electrical surges. Although, they are not 100 percent effective.
  • Do not use the telephone, because electrical wires may be hit by lightning. Even using a cellular phone is hazardous because the metal parts can conduct lightning.
  • The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.Lightning not only occurs during thunderstorms, but it may also take place during volcanic eruptions, forest fires, hurricanes and nuclear explosions.
  • Lightning starts about 4,400 house fires each year.
  • A motor car with a metal top can offer you some protection—but keep your hands from the metal sides.
  • Victims of lightning do not retain the charge and are not “electrified.” It is safe to help them.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.

What Do You Do If Your Home Is Struck By Lightning?

lightning hits home

 

A bolt of lightning can reach temperatures up to 50,000 degrees, which is five times hotter than the surface of the sun. Do not take a shower, stay off your land-line phone, avoid contact with electrical equipment and cords… you probably have heard these standard precautions to take during a lightning storm over and over again. But the fact is that the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries is phone use. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas. Taking precautions can absolutely reduce your chance for injury.

Lightning can enter your home in three main ways: (1) a direct strike, (2) through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and (3) the ground. Once the lightning has entered your home it can travel through the electrical, phone, plumbing, and radio or television reception systems.  Lightning can ruin your electrical system in your home and it can also cause a fire. The fire could very well start within the walls so you may not notice it until it’s too late. You should call 911 immediately after your home is struck by lightning. The fire department handles all lightning calls and they are equipped with thermal imaging cameras to locate a possible fire burning in your home. They also will be able to survey the damages and let you and your family know when it is deemed safe to enter again.

Handling the Aftermath of Lightning Damage

lightning causes fire to house

After you have gotten everyone out safely and the fire department has assessed your home you may be left with damages. A standard home owner’s insurance policy should cover damages caused by lightning, including fires and fried electronics. Below are some tips you can use that will help get your home back in order:

  • Keep detailed records of all big-ticket purchases such as TVs, laptops and other expensive electronics. The insurance company will want to see proof of ownership.
  • Report a lightning strike to your agent as soon as possible.
  • Keep accurate records of how much you spend repairing or replacing items.
  • Review your policy for specific coverage information.
  • Check with your claim representative before you discard any items you plan to claim as damaged.

Lightning’s destruction can be random. In some instances your computer could be fried yet your T.V. still works. You should check all electrical equipment that was plugged in during the time when the lightning struck to inspect for damage. It could take weeks before you are able to discover all of the damages the lightning caused to your home. In the event that your home catches fire from the extreme heat produced from lightning, you will need to hire a professional to restore your home back to its original state. PRS is available 24/7 to assist with any disaster you may face. We are fully equipped to handle all fire and smoke damage. After you have assessed the damage and reported it to your insurance company, give us a call and let us handle the rest.

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