Tips for Staying Safe From Electrical Hazards During a Lighting Storm
Lightning strikes kill approximately 30 people in the United States every year and injure many more. Although the chances of being struck by lightning are still quite rare, you should always make sure to take proper precautions whenever lightning is present. With this in mind, here are some important tips to help ensure that you and your family stay safe during lightning storms.
Stay Inside and Away From Any Windows and Doors
This one is fairly obvious, but it still begs repeating. It may surprise you to learn that approximately one-third of all lighting-related injuries actually occur when people are indoors. For this reason, you should immediately take shelter indoors, and stay at least a few feet away from all doors and windows whenever there is lightning in the area. Even standing on your porch, or at your front door, increases the chances of you getting struck and it simply isn’t worth the risk.
Keep Away From Concrete
If possible, you should also avoid leaning against any concrete walls or lying on a concrete floor during a lightning storm. If you do have to be on a concrete floor, then it is always best to wear rubber-soled shoes to insulate yourself from the ground. When lightning strikes a building, it will travel through any and all conduits it can, and this includes the metal rebar inside of concrete. If you’re in direct contact with the concrete when the lightning hits, the current will travel through metal, out of the concrete, and into you.
Never Use a Landline Phone During a Lighting Storm
This one usually isn’t as big of an issue these days since most homes no longer have landline phones. If you do still have a landline, you should never use any corded phones during a lightning storm, as the phone line can carry the current directly into you. Cordless landline phones are ok to use as long as you make sure to stay away from the actual phone line.
Stay Off the Computer and Don’t Touch Anything Electrical
Just as lightning can travel through phone lines, it can also travel through any other type of cable or wiring. This is why you should never use a computer or any video game controller that isn’t wireless. Using a laptop is fine as long as it isn’t plugged in.
You should also keep your distance from any electronic device during an electrical storm unless it is unplugged from the wall. You should try to avoid touching any outlets, light switches, or other electrical fixtures whenever lightning is present.
Don’t Use Your Plumbing
Water is one of the best electrical conductors there is, and this can make your plumbing quite hazardous during an electrical storm. If there is a major power surge, lightning can travel through the water inside your pipes. If you were to touch a faucet, shower knob, toilet handle, or any other metal plumbing fixture, the current could then flow out through the fixture and into your body. The same could also happen if you were washing your hands or showering when the lightning hit, and believe it or not, even when sitting on the toilet.
Unplug All Important Electronics
The vast majority of people have their TV, computer, stereo, and other electronic devices plugged into a power strip, and it is important to clear up some common misconceptions about how these work. Some power strips are surge protectors, while others are simply a strip that provides additional outlets. Unlike what many people were taught to believe, even those that are actual surge strips will provide zero protection against a possible lightning strike.
Surge strips are designed to protect electronic devices from more minor internal power surges caused by an issue related directly to your electrical system. If lightning strikes your house, a house in your neighborhood, or any nearby power poles; it can result in a huge external power surge and send tens of thousands of volts of electricity surging through the power lines and into your home.
This is far more power than any surge strip can handle and can instantly fry the control boards and other electronics inside any devices that are plugged in. For this reason, it is always best to err on the side of caution and immediately unplug all of your important electronic devices whenever lightning strikes are reported nearby.
Consider Installing a Whole-Home Surge Protector
The best way to avoid most potential lightning issues is to have a whole-home surge protector installed. These units are mounted directly to your home’s main electrical panel where the power comes into your house, and they work using the copper grounding rod that is connected to the panel.
In the event of a major external power surge due to a lightning strike or any other issue, the surge protector will instantly activate as soon as it detects an excess of power flowing into the building. When this happens, the surge protector will instantly isolate your electrical system from the power grid so that no more power flows into the home. The surge protector then directs the current away from the building and into the grounding rod where it harmlessly disperses into the surrounding soil.
By instantly channeling the current away from the home, it prevents the power surge from flowing through your electrical system and damaging any sensitive electronics. This not only includes corded devices like computers, TVs, dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, and microwaves, but also any hardwired appliances like air conditioners and ovens.
A whole-home surge protector also protects your entire electrical system from damage. A major power surge has the potential to melt your home’s wiring and can lead to a fire risk. The only way to prevent this from possibly happening is with whole-home surge protection. By preventing the power surge from flowing into your home, a whole-home surge protector should also keep you safe from potentially being electrocuted by phone lines, light switches, plumbing fixtures, etc.
Unfortunately, no whole-home surge protector will ever keep you 100% safe against lightning strikes. There is always a chance that the power surge will be greater than even the best surge protector can handle, especially if an extremely powerful lightning bolt directly strikes your home. That being said, these units should still protect you from the vast majority of lightning strikes, and will greatly decrease the risk of a power surge damaging your electronic devices or your electrical system.
At Huft Home Services, we specialize in whole-home surge protection for residents in Elk Grove, Sacramento, Yuba City, and the surrounding areas. We also specialize in electrical wiring, breaker panels, and installation of EV charging stations. In addition to ceiling fans, generators, and other fixtures and appliances. Our team of professional plumbers can also help with leak detection, water heaters, sump pumps, water filtration, drain cleaning, sewer services, and more. If you need any HVAC services, we specialize in installing, servicing, and repairing furnaces, air conditioners, and other HVAC units. To learn more about the benefits of whole-home surge protection or to schedule a home service, give us a call today.