Lightning Protection Systems for Re-roofing Projects & the Importance of Trade Coordination & Expert Consultation

bonded-roof-2

Lack of coordination between construction trades can result in a variety of issues when it comes to lightning protection and re-roofing projects. Contracting with a LPI-certified specialist can prevent construction headaches and help ensure quality assurance for lightning protection system re-installation projects.

Lightning protection systems (LPS) are sophisticated networks that incorporate strike termination devices, lightning current conductors, bonding conductors, grounding electrodes and lightning surge protection devices. While the lightning risk for a structure is often the product of the lightning frequency and the consequence of the strike to the structure, designers typically consider a variety of factors when laying out a system plan. This risk assessment takes into account factors including the building environment, type of construction, structure occupancy and structure contents.

Naturally, a structure’s “landscape” changes over time. Weather events like high winds, ice and snow, and extreme temperatures can degrade a structure’s roof system and affect the continuity of the LPS. Building upgrades can affect the LPS, as well. Roof construction, remodeling, and changes to electrical, mechanical or communication systems can alter or interrupt the lightning protection system. Facility maintenance programs should include an annual visual inspection of the LPS to ensure quality control.

Unfortunately, the importance of integration and maintenance of LPS in conjunction with roof systems is often underestimated. A lack of coordination between roofing systems, LPS specifications and the associated trades can result in a variety of maintenance issues and roofing problems. Construction managers, project designers and building owners can expect the best results when their LPS re-roofing plans include the following:

1) A prescriptive LPS re-roofing specification to outline details for materials, methods and workmanship. LPI provides two industry specifications for LPS re-roofing guidance: a performance specification for bidding and proposal use, and long form specification for construction documents. 

2) Reference to the nationally-recognized safety Standards of LPI 175, NFPA 780 and UL 96A as an authoritative source for questions regarding removal, materials and re-installation.

3) Contracting with a certified LPI Master Installer to ensure compliance with nationally-recognized safety Standards. (Note: working with a certified LPI Master Installer to address proper system design is similar to using a RCI certified roofing consultant to assure maintenance of the highest quality protection for the entire roof area of the building envelope.)

4) A third-party close-out inspection (LPI-IP or UL) for LPS quality assurance certification. The LPI-IP provides three types of certifications and inspection options: LPI-IP Master Installation, LPI-IP Reconditioned Master Installation and LPI-IP Limited Scope to accommodate a variety of project needs. UL provides Master Label certification and Letter of Findings services. 

Roof Replacement

A major development in the life of any LPS will occur when the building’s roofing system requires major overhaul or replacement. The entire array of direct strike protection for the structure, along with critical bonding elements for internal grounded systems that penetrate the roof, can be affected during this process.

The re-roofing process is seldom as simple as removing and reinstalling the existing lightning protection components. When LPS are inadequately integrated into a roof system and/or not maintained properly, roof-related problems can arise or the LPS may be rendered ineffective. Alterations, rooftop additions or changes from the original mechanical equipment, antennas, security cameras and internal venting will need to be bonded to the lightning protection system as required by the provisions of the safety standards. Other rooftop traffic from window washers, technicians and other contractors can pose a problem for air terminals and cables if careless damage or disconnects from the system occur.

LPS Considerations for Re-roofing

Various elements of the re-roofing process require the supervision of a qualified lightning protection contractor. A decision must be made on the removal and care of existing system components for possible re-installation. The process of removal and re-installation on phased projects needs coordination to maximize time under protection. After the existing components have been removed, the LPS contractor will consider and address re-installation aspects including:

  • Identifying and marking to preserve existing and reusable through-roof penetrations.
  • Ensuring that structurally mounted hardware is properly anchored according to LPS safety Standards.
  • Using construction grade adhesives compatible with the roofing membrane and complying with manufacturer warranties.
  • Bonding reinstallation to maintain necessary roof-level potential equalization of the LPS.
  • Ensuring circuits of cable conductor are provided with the most direct low-impedance multiple paths to building downleads and structural steel.
  • Coordinating LPS on rooftop HVAC units, vents, mechanical equipment, antennae, cameras, skylights and other rooftop appurtenances requiring bonding and strike termination connections.
  • Reviewing strike termination devices to accommodate changing needs of building landscape. (In instances where renovation projects call for blunt tip and/or spring-mount base strike termination devices to accommodate architectural requirements or high-traffic roof areas.)
  • Ordering a third-party inspection (LPI-IP or UL) to re-certify the system for safety Standard compliance and quality control close-out requirements.

By addressing the above items in a professional manner, the LPS specialist can achieve the ultimate goal of returning the building to the protected zone of a complete system so the expected safety level for the occupants and contents remains continuous.

The science of lightning protection is keeping pace with our ever-changing technology. The newly-released 2017 edition of NFPA 780 includes 12 chapters and 15 annex sections to address design requirements, applications and risk assessment measures for LPS. When designed and installed by a LPI-certified specialist, LPS can meet the needs of safety, technology and design.   

Register for the 2017 LPI/ULPA Annual Lightning Protection Conference!

conferenceregister

Registration is now open for the 2017 LPI/ULPA Lightning Protection Conference in Houston, Texas, February 8-10.  LPI members, Mike Weir and Taylor Lightning Protection, will serve as industry hosts for the 85th annual conference, which will feature educational sessions, networking opportunities, golfing and social events.

The deadline for rooms and registration is January 6, 2017, so be sure to register http://www.ulpa.org/images/2017ULPAConfReg.pdf and book your hotel reservations ASAP!  When making your reservations, be sure to mention the booking code: “ULPA LPI Conference” to receive the special conference rate.  See hotel and golfing information here http://www.ulpa.org/images/2017RoomRates.pdf

What: 85th Annual LPI/ULPA Lightning Protection Conference

When: February 8-10, 2017

Where: The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center 

How: Toll-Free Reservation Center: 800-433-2624 or 281-882-3000 (golf reservations); please mention booking code: “ULPA LPI Conference” when making reservations

Interested in being a conference sponsor? Due to overwhelming industry response, the United Lightning Protection Association (ULPA) is once again offering sponsorship opportunities for the 2017 conference. Want to see your company featured at the 2017 conference? If so, be sure to visit the ULPA website sign-up http://www.ulpa.org/images/2017ULPAConfSponsor.pdf  soon to reserve your preferred sponsorship spot.

 

Prevention is Key to Reducing Home Fire Risks; Including Blazes Sparked by Lightning

In support of National Fire Prevention Week 

Lightning is an underrated and often overlooked fire risk, responsible for an estimated 23,000 home fires a year. Lightning protection systems that comply with NFPA standards can meet building resiliency needs for safety, technology and design.

Lightning is an underrated and often overlooked fire risk, responsible for an estimated 23,000 home fires a year. Lightning protection systems that comply with NFPA standards can meet building resiliency needs for safety, technology and design.

Maryville, Mo., – October 10, 2016 — The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that home fires account for $6-8 billion in property damage in the U.S. Many of these fires are preventable, including those sparked by lightning; an underrated and often overlooked fire risk. Lightning-sparked fires that occur in the darkness of night, can be difficult to detect; particularly if the fire originates in the attic, basement or electrical panel.

A single lightning strike can carry 300 million volts of electricity and 30,000 amps. Compared to a household electrical current of 120 volts and 15 amps, lightning’s mega electricity packs a powerful punch which can have devastating results. These fires can be especially destructive, when lightning ignites a home fire in one of the following ways:

  • Through a direct strike
  • In an arc discharge between two conductive objects at different induced potentials
  • By a current surge in circuitry and electrical equipment
  • By the overflow of substantial electrical current which causes overheating, melting or vaporizing of metal
  • By arcing of lightning current from conductors at high-resistance grounds
  • Through lightning puncturing pinholes in CSST gas piping

“The key to fire prevention is to focus on all fire hazards and prevent them before they start, and this includes lightning—a hazard that may not be as obvious,” said Jim Narva, executive director of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM). “Homeowners may also be unaware that most lightning fires, can be prevented through the design and installation of a NFPA 780 compliant lightning protection system.”

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is partnering with the NASFM to help improve safety measures connected with CSST (a flexible gas tubing found in many homes) and its susceptibility to lightning-related fires.  NASFM has a campaign underway to reduce the number of these fires, and LPI has joined the effort. http://lightning.org/lightning-protection-institute-joins-state-fire-marshals-in-effort-to-reduce-fire-risk-present-in-millions-of-u-s-homes/

Both groups believe that safety can be achieved through the adoption of an improved performance criteria for flexible gas piping (ICC-ES PMG LC1027), which is presently available for installation in new homes.

“The science of lightning protection is keeping pace with our ever-changing technology,” said Mitchell Guthrie, former Chair of NFPA 780 and current Chair of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s Technical Committee on Lightning Protection. “The newly-released 2017 edition of NFPA 780 includes 12 chapters and 15 annex sections to address design requirements, applications and risk assessment measures for lightning protection systems,” added Guthrie.

When installed by a LPI-certified specialist, lightning protection systems can meet the needs of safety, technology and design. A complete system includes: strike termination devices, conductors, ground terminals, interconnecting bonding to minimize side flashing, and surge protection devices for incoming power, data and communication lines to prevent harmful electrical surges.

Homeowners seeking information about lightning’s risks and the benefits of lightning protection systems can watch this short YouTube video, “How to Protect Your Home in a FLASH.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSL53ZDQxy0&list=PLR7GhNEQT6T_kpkVFi7Gd-JfA189n6YUn&index=1

The NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years. Once again, NFPA is promoting smoke alarm safety with this year’s campaign, “Don’t Wait—Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them every 10 years. For more information on smoke alarm safety and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.

The Lightning Protection Institute is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org for more information.

 

LPI Exhibiting at Greenbuild Expo, in Los Angeles, October 5 & 6

Green building is a good idea and good for business. A Green Building Economic Impact study released by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), found that Green construction is expected to account for more than 2.3 million U.S. jobs by the end of this year, and 3.3 million jobs by 2018. Aligned with this growth in automated technology, lightning protection has become increasingly important for inclusion in green building, LEED and the smart structure design-build process. Demand for green building and lightning protection services are expected to continue to grow as people, businesses and planners continue to emphasize sustainable approaches to design and construction.

This year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will feature the latest and the greatest products and materials in sustainable design and intelligent building applications; including lightning protection! Join the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) at booth #430 in Los Angeles, CA on October 5 & 6 to learn how lightning protection systems play a critical role in increasing sustainability and building resilience!

Lightning Protection Institute Joins State Fire Marshals in Effort to Reduce Fire Risk Present in Millions of U.S. Homes

Effort calls for improved performance standards for CSST

Fire safety officials believe millions of U.S. homes could be at risk to a fire hazard linked to lightning and a common gas piping known as CSST. Efforts are underway to improve safety measures for new construction.

 Maryville, Mo., September 9, 2016 — The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is joining forces with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to improve safety measures connected with a fire risk lurking in many homes across the country. The combination of a single lightning strike and the presence of a common gas piping, known as corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST), can pose a serious fire hazard. Fire safety officials believe millions of U.S. homes could be at risk.

Due to its flexible nature and ease of installation, CSST has been widely-used for residential gas service lines since its introduction in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, unlike traditional heavier walled gas pipe, the corrugated design and the thin walls of CSST have proved problematic and susceptible to lightning’s high intensity electric charge. Lightning energies can perforate holes in the CSST and allow gas leakage and fire. In worst case scenarios, such leaks have led to devastating home fires.

“Hazardous outcomes with CSST have already prompted a class action settlement, law suits, a NFPA review and a public awareness campaign,” said Bud VanSickle, LPI executive director. “As a nationwide group dedicated to lightning safety and lightning protection, LPI supports NASFM’s efforts with the codes and standards community to raise the lightning test within the CSST product standard.”

According to NASFM, its recent work with CSST manufacturers and stakeholders in promoting the “Yellow CSST Safety Campaign” has reached over 30 million homeowners. The campaign created safety alerts inserted in utility notices and insurance policyholder communications across the country to educate consumers about bonding and grounding guidelines for CSST; remediation which may not have been addressed when the product was installed. While bonding of the yellow CSST makes homes safer, NASFM is petitioning the codes and standards community for more improvements.

“Raising the ANSI LC1 product standard to require greater immunity of CSST from the lightning threat is imperative for greater safety going forward in new construction,” said Jim Narva, executive director of the NASFM. “We believe LPI’s leadership position in the lightning protection industry can increase awareness and encourage support for improvements to the performance standard for the product.”

 “With the advent of a more significant lightning testing protocol (ICC-ES PMG LC1027) and the current technology for products that can meet the enhanced test requirements, CSST’s vulnerability to lightning will be greatly decreased if performance criteria is increased,” said Mitchell Guthrie, former Chair of NFPA 780 and current Chair of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s Technical Committee on Lightning Protection. Guthrie served on the NFPA Standards Council CSST Task Group and on the Fire Protection Research Foundation Project Technical Panel addressing installation methods for CSST gas piping.

“A safer product is available, so there is little justification to the public not to require the enhanced performance criteria in our national standards,” explained Guthrie. “It’s certainly beneficial to have LPI provide technical support to help achieve the goal.”

“As LPI moves forward to support these efforts, it’s important to remind the public that proper bonding and grounding of internal building systems is just one element of a complete lightning protection system,” added VanSickle.

About NASFM

The National Association of State Fire Marshals comprised of senior fire officials in the U.S. and their top deputies. Its primary mission is to protect human life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards. A secondary mission of NASFM is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the State Fire Marshal’s operations. Visit the NASFM website at http://www.firemarshals.org/ for more information.

About LPI

The Lightning Protection Institute is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at http://lightning.org/ for information about lightning protection system requirements and how to locate a LPI-certified installer in your area. See http://lightning.org/resources/overview-of-csst-lightning-hazard/ for more information about CSST and the lightning risk.

###

 

Contact: Kimberly Loehr, LPI/LSA Press office, kiml@lightning.org

 

Preparation is Key to Navigating Mother Nature’s Nastiness

September 2, 2016 — September is National Preparedness Month and an excellent time to create plans that can safeguard your home or business against Mother Nature’s nastiness. Weather emergencies like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes can happen in the middle of the night, when everyone is sleeping, or during the middle of the day when no one is home. The same is true of lightning–and fire evacuations sparked by lightning are more common than you’d expect.

longwood Ul

A lightning protection system inspection takes place at Longwood University’s Science Center during the same time that restoration crews clean-up debris from a lightning-sparked fire at a nearby campus dormitory.

Just this week, lightning sparked a fire at a Pasco County, FL hospital http://wfla.com/2016/08/31/electric-fire-causes-evacuation-of-20-hudson-hospital-patients/ causing the evacuation of over 200 patients who had to be transported to other hospitals. News reports claimed that lightning hit a main power feed on the hospital’s roof and disabled the hospital’s generator.

longwood fire servpro

Restoration crews from Servpro assess the fire and water damage left behind from a lightning strike to the Northeast building at the Longwood Landings apartment complex. Firefighters estimated 20,000-25,000 gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire.

Last month, in Farmville, VA, over 100 students were evacuated and reassigned to other housing after lightning struck an apartment building http://www.farmvilleherald.com/2016/08/lighting-hits-longwood-apartment-building/ on the Longwood University campus, igniting an eight-alarm fire. The student housing department was forced to scramble to find new accommodations for the students, who had just moved onto campus for the fall semester.

Thunderstorms occur throughout the year and all thunderstorms bring lightning. If a lightning event were to cause an emergency for your home or business, would your family or co-workers know how to get in touch with each other if you are not all together? Before an emergency happens, have a family or company plan in place to determine a point of contact. Ready.gov explains what an emergency communication plan is and how you can prepare one for your family or business: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

When it comes to lightning, the best way to prepare your home or business from lightning is to have a lightning protection system professionally installed to safeguard your structure, occupants and equipment against Mother Nature’s nastiness. A lightning protection system includes a network of strike termination devices, conductors, grounding electrodes, interconnecting conductors, surge protective devices and other connectors and required fittings. When properly installed in accordance with national safety standards, the system dissipates the dangerous mega electrical discharge to prevent fire, explosion of nonconductive materials and harmful surge overloads.

We know from experience that homes and businesses prepared for disasters are far more likely to incur less damage and recover quicker than those not prepared. Preparation in all areas of life is always important. So, let’s not let our guard down against lightning. After all, the weather peril experienced by most people, most of the time, in most places of our country, certainly commands our respect now, during National Preparedness Month!

 

NFPA 780: Setting the Standard for Safe and Effective Lightning Protection

safety standard

August 18, 2016 — Safety standards are designed to ensure the safety of products, activities or processes. When it comes to lightning protection, the difference between “safe and effective” lightning protection and “unsafe and ineffective” lightning protection is ultimately related to which guidelines are implemented.

Over the years, LPI has shared a lot of information about the NFPA and UL safety standards for lightning protection. Despite the wealth of information shared, we continue to field questions from the public and the media asking for more information and clarification.  Sometimes the fundamentals are helpful, so here are the 5 W’s to better acquaint you with NFPA 780, the safety Standard that sets the quality standard for lightning protection design and installation.

Who?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) describes itself as, “a global nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.

As a codes and standards organization, NFPA provides technical information (code and standard documents) designed to minimize the risk and effects of fire. These codes, standards, recommended practices and guides are developed and reviewed through a consensus standards development process, represented by diverse viewpoints and interests. The NFPA’s committee process is accredited the American National Standards Institute.

What? 

Often considered the grandfather of lightning protection, NFPA 780 provides valuable resource information for AHJs, project designers, engineers, insurance professionals and anyone responsible for the protection of lives and property from dangers associated with lightning. NFPA also serves as the basis for the LPI-175 Standard of Practice for the Design-Installation-Inspection of Lightning Protection Systems reference document, which is commonly used by LPI-certified designers and installers and LPI-IP inspectors. NFPA 780 covers lightning protection system installation requirements for structures, watercraft, wind turbines, industrial stacks and other special occupancies. Lightning protection guidance for new construction and building trends (including solar systems, arrays, catenary systems, airfield lighting, rooftop equipment) are also addressed, with new information and sections added to the Standard in conjunction with the three-year review process.  Information added to the 2017 edition of NFPA 780 to address new safety challenges includes:

  • Occupancy-specific safety, design and protection protocol
  • Updated information for hazardous, combustible and explosive conditions
  • Revisions to address protection for structures containing flammable vapors, gases or liquids.
  • Revisions to assist facility managers, installers, inspectors and AHJ’s with on-site inspections and periodic maintenance.
  • New definitions for commonly misunderstood and miscommunicated lightning protection terms.
  • Updated illustrations for the placement of lightning protection components.
  • New bonding requirements for metal bodies.
  • New Annex sections (there are now 15 in total in the 2017 edition) added to address additional new building technologies (protection of smart structures and SPD guidance for the selection of SPD’s for photovoltaic installations.)

 When?

The NFPA first adopted “Specifications for Protection of Buildings Against Lightning” in 1905. Revised editions of the early code (and subsequent standard) continued to be adopted by NFPA throughout the century. In 1992 the numerical designation of the document was changed from “78 “to “780” and the name “Lightning Protection Code” was revised to “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems” to conform with the NFPA’s routine method of naming documents. Since NFPA 780 contains installation requirements, it is more appropriately termed an installation “standard” rather than a “code.”

Why?  

NFPA 780 is the principle lightning protection Standard in the U.S. and a primary implementing document for the IEC 62305 (International Electrotechnical Commission) series of documents. NFPA 780 also provides the foundation for numerous specialized lightning protection documents for organizations such as the DOD, DOE, NASA and the FAA. Prior to the development of the IEC series, NFPA 780 was routinely referenced and used worldwide.

Where?  

The 2017 Edition of NFPA 780, prepared by Technical Committee on Lightning Protection was issued by the Standards Council and approved as an American National Standard on June 2, 2016. The new document can be viewed free online at: http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards?mode=code&code=780

NFPA 780 is also available for purchase at: http://lightning.org/downloads/nfpa-780-standard-2017-edition/

Curious about the How?  Contact a LPI-certified specialist: http://lightning.org/membership/membership-directory/ to learn how a NFPA 780-compliant lightning protection system can help protect your home or business.

Note: As part of its mission to promote fire safety, the NFPA also develops a variety of educational programs, tools, and resources for all ages and audiences. Visit the NFPA website at http://www.nfpa.org/ for more information.

logo_nfpa

 

LPI to Participate in National Preparedness Month Workshop in September

What: 2016 National Weather Association Teacher’s Weather Workshop

Where: Norfolk Waterside Marriott, 235 E. Main Street, Norfolk, VA

When: Tuesday, September 13 2016, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

nwa logo

Overview: The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) will join partners from the National Weather Association (NWA) at their 2016 Annual Meeting to participate in a hands-on workshop to educate teachers (K-12) about lightning, lightning protection, lightning safety and LPI-related resources. LPI Communications Director, Kim Loehr will share information about the Building Lightning Safe Communities initiative and explain LPI’s role in the National Lightning Safety Awareness campaign effort. For more information about NWA or the upcoming workshop, visit http://www.nwas.org/

 

Benefits of Lightning Protection Hailed During Lightning Safety Awareness Week

July 11, 2016 — The need for Safety Standard-compliant lightning protection was recently promoted during national Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 19-25, as consumer advocates and nonprofit organizations shared news and notices regarding the important role these systems play in preventing structural property loss in the U.S.  lightninghittingnorfolkofficebldg
Organizations helping to build lightning safe communities by highlighting the benefits of lightning protection systems for structures, included:
 iii logo
The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), a non-profit communications and research organization supported by the property/casualty insurance industry promoted the benefits of lightning protection systems in several news releases and website posts, including:
Lightning Safety Awareness Week saw additional messages about lightning protection shared by consumer advocate groups including:
flash
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH): Facebook and YouTube posts.
 ibhs_logo
StateFarm Insurance Learning Center, “The Nuts & Bolts of Lightning Protection.”https://learningcenter.statefarm.com/safety-2/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-lightning-protection/
Additional support of lightning protection during Lightning Safety Awareness Week was shared by NOAA/NWS and the National Lightning Safety CouncilChnqEzuUUAA2z7B
The National Weather Service began the annual Lightning Safety Awareness Week campaign in 2001 to help increase awareness about the dangers of lightning and provide the public with safety information to help protect families from lightning’s underrated dangers.

Lightning Safety and Lightning Protection: Separating Fact from Fiction

Just in time for Lightning Safety Awareness Week, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) separates fallacy from fact to debunk a few common myths about lightning safety and lightning protection. (PRNewsFoto/Lightning Protection Institute, Shutterstock)

Just in time for Lightning Safety Awareness Week, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) separates fallacy from fact to debunk a few common myths about lightning safety and lightning protection.

LPI Debunks Common Myths in Support of Lightning Safety Awareness Week  

MARYVILLE, Mo., June 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — As new and old myths about lightning continue to circulate through the internet and social media, it’s hard to know how to separate fact from fallacy about lightning safety and protection measures. In support of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 19-25, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is emphasizing the importance of protecting people, property and places against lightning, a deadly, yet often underrated weather threat.

“A general misunderstanding of lightning protection combined with an internet increase of unscrupulous vendors pitching false claims about new lightning prevention devices has created a recipe for a lot of consumer confusion,” said Bud VanSickle, LPI executive director.

To increase awareness about the dangers of lightning and provide the public with safety information, the National Weather Service (NWS) launched National Lightning Safety Awareness Week in 2001 http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov

“Despite the wealth of accurate information on lightning and lightning safety, there are still many myths and misunderstandings that persist,” said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for NOAA/NWS.

Just in time for Lightning Safety Awareness Week, LPI separates fallacy from fact to debunk a few common myths about lightning safety and lightning protection:

Fallacy: Rubber tires and rubber-soled shoes protect you from being struck by lightning.
Fact: Rubber tires and rubber soles provide NO protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, the steel shell and frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. (Lightning’s electricity travels along the metal shell and frame and into the ground.)

Fallacy: Metal attracts lightning so you shouldn’t wear metal or hold a cell phone in a thunderstorm.
Fact: While metal conducts lightning’s electricity, it doesn’t attract it, so the presence of metal makes no difference regarding where or when lightning strikes. People are struck by lightning because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time—anywhere outside is unsafe during a thunderstorm. Holding a golf club or cell phone does not increase one’s risk for being struck, which is why the NWS advises: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

Fallacy: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, and structures like the Empire State Building and Willis (Sears) Tower are zapped numerous times a year. The earth experiences 100 lightning flashes per second and the U.S. alone has more than 40 million lightning strikes each year. Thunderstorms occur virtually everywhere, putting people and structures at risk http://lightning.org/learn-more/watch-learn/#video-1 Lightning strikes in low lying areas, as well as in higher elevations which is why lightning is considered the weather hazard “most commonly experienced by most people in the world.”

Fallacy: Lightning rods are outdated and a thing of the past.
Fact: Lightning protection systems are installed more today than ever before. Smart structures that feature a high degree of automation and interconnected systems and rely on sophisticated energy collection methods can be at special risk. Lightning can initiate a domino effect path of transient overvoltage which can disrupt, degrade and damage multiple electronic systems and connected equipment. With the growth of sustainable energy technology and eco-friendly building prompting upgrades and improvements to the electrical infrastructure of today’s homes and buildings, lightning protection is increasingly relevant and important.

Fallacy: A whole-house surge arrester can provide adequate protection against lightning.
Fact: Surge protection is only one element of a complete lightning protection system. A single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, spelling disastrous consequences for an unprotected structure. No surge protection device or “whole-house” arrester alone can protect a structure from a direct strike, which is why a grounding network for lightning (lightning protection system) must be implemented along with surge protection to provide a safe, conductive path to discharge lightning’s electricity.

Fallacy: Lightning protection is simple and easy to install yourself.
Fact: Lightning protection system design and installation is complex and not a do-it-yourself project. Installation is not typically within the scope of expertise held by general contractors, roofers or even electricians–which is why the work is typically subcontracted out to specialists.  LPI-certified experts who specialize in lightning protection and utilize UL-listed components and equipment should be hired to design and install these systems to make sure materials and methods comply with national Safety Standards.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), whose mission is to improve the public understanding of insurance–what it does and how it works–offers consumers guidelines for hiring a qualified lightning protection provider:  http://www.iii.org/video/how-pick-lightning-protection-system

The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is a not-for-profit, nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. Visit the LPI website at http://www.lightning.org for more information.

More information about the 2016 Lightning Safety Awareness Week campaign is available at http://www.lightningsafetycouncil.org

Photo –  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160617/380818

CONTACT: Kim Loehr, LSA/LPI Communications Office, kiml@lightning.org