National Electrical Safety Month Reminder: Surge Protectors Alone are Not Designed to Handle a Direct Lightning Strike!

rooftopstriketermdevicesMay 9, 2014 — May is National Electrical Safety Month and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is joining the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to raise awareness about the importance of electrical safety. Naturally, our focus is lightning. Lightning is an underrated and often forgotten electrical hazard, even though the most powerful electrical surges are typically caused by lightning.

Lightning is the rapid discharge of atmospheric electricity that can pack up to 200 kA of electric energy (100 million volts of power). A lightning strike to an unprotected structure can be disastrous and a single incident can cost thousands of dollars, with losses ranging from damage to expensive electronics to fires that destroy entire buildings. No surge protection device or “whole-house” arrester alone can protect a structure from a direct lightning strike packing mega electric energy. A grounding network for lightning must be implemented, as well to provide structural protection.

Prior to the age of electronics, the threat to structures from lightning was primarily fire-related. Enhanced communications lines, power and generation systems and gas and water piping have since created induction problems for today’s structures, allowing lightning’s access through energized lines or system grounds. Decades ago, the introduction of low voltage wiring and electronically controlled building components presented a new vulnerability to lightning. To address these concerns, lightning protection standards were updated in the 1990’s, thus adding provisions for grounding and new criteria for lightning arresters and surge protection devices.

Now fast forward to 2014 and lightning protection is meeting the needs of safety, technology and design. National safety standards for lightning protection systems call for practical and tested solutions to protect a structure, its occupants, contents, equipment and operations. 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. Additional connectors, fittings or bonding for CSST gas piping may be required and surge protection devices for vulnerable appliances may be needed, as well. The grounding network provided by a properly installed system is a total package protection approach. In a nutshell:

Surge protection + grounding network = lightning protection.

So while you’re enjoying the May flowers, make sure your lightning protection complies with recognized safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May to increase public awareness of electrical hazards. For more information about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.esfi.org

Trades Dabbling in Lightning Protection Quickly Learn that the Devil is in the Details.

This is NOT the face of quality lightning protection, but it is the type of work you can expect to see when inexperienced trades attempt to provide the system installation.

This is NOT the face of quality lightning protection, but it is the type of work you can expect to see when inexperienced trades attempt to provide the system installation.

badlightningprotect2April 10, 2014 — It’s unlikely that you’d hire a roofer to service your appliance repairs or contract with a plumber to handle electrical wiring for your home or business. So, isn’t it common sense to apply the same logic for your lightning protection system installations?  After all, a single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy. Grounding for that magnitude of electricity requires special expertise and strict adherence to safety standards.  Surely, it’s important to insist on quality control when allocating money to protect your important investments against mega electricity!

While the need for quality assurance and safety for lightning protection is not a new concept, concerns about quality control are increasing with reports of “short cuts” and compromised systems appearing in the construction workplace.  A trend is developing with outside trades like electrical and roofing contractors attempting to grow their business by dabbling in lightning protection installation. This is a problem, as lightning protection specifications call for installation in accordance with national safety standards (NFPA 780 and UL 96/96A), UL-listed materials and work performed by LPI-certified lightning protection specialists.

Lightning protection specialists aren’t the only professionals communicating reminders about quality control.  The International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) reiterated the importance of LPI-certified and UL listed installers for lightning protection applications.  IAEI devoted a new chapter called “The Fundamentals of Lightning Protection” to its 10th edition of the “Soares Book on Grounding and Bonding” in 2008, which was updated and expanded in the 11th edition, released in 2011. The handbook now includes a reminder to electrical contractors that “installation of a lightning protection system is much different from the installation of electrical service wiring.” (Remember, there’s electricity and then there’s mega LIGHTNING electricity!)

According to the Soares handbook: “specialized material and installation methods such as that specified in NFPA 780 and UL 96 are required and the system should only be installed by qualified personnel trained and certified in the installation of lightning protection systems.”

A third-party, independent lightning protection inspection service, such as UL or the LPI-IP Inspection Program can ensure quality control for residential and commercial systems. The LPI-IP Inspection Program is serving a growing need for property owners, insurers and builders as a comprehensive third-party quality control approach for commercial and residential lightning protection projects.  The LPI-IP Inspection Program is accepted in MasterSpec as a quality control inspection option for lightning protection.  More information about the program is available at the LPI-IP web site at www.lpi-ip.com.

Lightning protection is a specialty service, so electricians, roofers and general contractors aren’t the best sources for up-to-date information about lightning protection.  Business and homeowners need to contact an experienced, LPI-certified lightning protection specialist for reliable service that meets industry requirements. The LPI-certified specialist will know how to interpret the safety standards, as well as provide the proper third-party inspection requirements for quality assurance closeout.

Perhaps Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the first lightning rod, provided the best advice about quality control when he said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”

Yes, the devil is often in the details, so don’t let April thundershowers sink your ship!  Stay ahead of the storm by insisting on quality lightning protection from a reputable, experienced specialist to safeguard those property investments; especially your home, trees and business structures.

Questions & Answers about Lightning Protection Inspections: Why Third Party Review is Important for your System!

LPI board members discussed the importance of third party inspection for lightning protection at the 2014 LPI/ULPA Conference in Singer Island, FL.

LPI board members discussed the importance of third party inspection for lightning protection at the 2014 LPI/ULPA Conference in Singer Island, FL.

March 11, 2014 — Just as inspections are a standard practice in the world of construction, it’s understood in the lightning protection industry that lightning protection systems must be inspected following completion of their installation.  Third party inspection is the cornerstone for quality assurance.  Independent review provides the purest evidence that the installing contractor has met all industry guidelines and complied with recommended practices and safety standards for the lightning protection.

Since lightning protection is a specialized industry, it can be difficult for the owner or project manager (PM) to know what to expect when in comes to third party lightning protection inspections.  Here are a few guidelines to help demystify the inspection process:

Why do I need the lightning protection system inspection?

The lightning protection is an important amenity which provides protection against a leading cause of property damage. The third party inspection can identify the need for system oversights, repairs or recommended maintenance.  An independent inspection provides peace of mind to ensure materials and methods comply with recommended practices and industry safety standards.

Do I need to be onsite or present for the inspection?

If possible, it’s always a good idea for an owner or PM to be onsite during the lightning protection inspection.  This gives the owner or PM an opportunity to observe the inspector and understand more about the system and its components. It’s likely that the lightning protection contractor will want to be present, as well, in the event that minor repairs or upgrades to the system are needed. 

What if the inspection report reveals problems or issues with the system?

Depending upon the project, the inspector will issue a certification or report several days/weeks after the inspection. Most lightning protection contractors address installation repairs or issues during the inspection, but if this is not feasible; the inspector will forward a variance or noncompliance letter to the contractor. This variance report summarizes issues and corrective measures needed for system compliance. A follow-up inspection or appropriate documentation of corrective measures is typically required to verify compliance so that inspection certification can be issued.   

How much do inspections cost?

Lightning protection inspection services typically base their costs on the perimeter size of the structure.  Geographic factors may need to be considered and minimal fees for additional services such as ground tests or follow-up reports, may apply, as well.  It’s always a good idea to ask about inspection costs, as well as professional affiliations and references prior to contracting with the lightning protection installer. While a third party inspection may add an additional cost to the contract, it shouldn’t be a deciding factor with the consumer. Quality assurance often comes with a small price, and as we know, the lowest priced services don’t always equate to a bargain.

What do I need to know about guarantees and warranties for lightning protection?

Most reputable contractors will provide warranty information and industry recommendations for periodic inspections and follow-up services, but beware of a contractor who advertises guarantees for services; especially guarantees pertaining to third party inspections. Time tables and arrangements for third party inspections are controlled by the inspection entity (LPI-IP or UL) and not mandated by the lightning protection installer—it’s called an independent inspection service for a reason!  As always, buyers should beware of contractors who make promises or guarantees that sound too good to be true.  

Lightning protection is one of the least expensive improvements you can purchase for your home or business, yet it offers the best type of insurance—peace of mind. An experienced LPI-certified lightning protection specialist will ensure your system is installed using UL-listed materials and make sure methods comply with national safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL.

The LPI-IP Inspection Program provides system certifications with a three-year expiration date to complement the NFPA three-year code review process and keep pace with new technology.  More information about the inspection service is available at the LPI-IP web site at www.lpi-ip.com.

Is Your Lightning Protection Due for a Check-up? Why Maintenance is Key to Ensuring a Safe and Effective System.

 

Routine maintenance and inspection of  lightning protection systems are imperative  to ensure continuity and compliance with national safety standards. Airports and critical structures may want to implement preventative maintenance programs to evaluate and maintain the integrity of their lightning protection systems.

Routine maintenance and inspection of lightning protection systems are imperative to ensure continuity and compliance with national safety standards.
Airports and critical structures may want to implement preventative maintenance programs to evaluate and maintain the integrity of their lightning protection systems.

airportphoto2February 12, 2014 — Media accounts of lightning striking a station tower at Baltimore’s main airport and injuring an air traffic controller last September have exposed new safety concerns for airports.  Has this incident exposed a vulnerability at our country’s airports, where air traffic controllers are called upon to coordinate thousands of flights each day?  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that the incident was “a first of its kind in FAA history,” but given the frequency of lightning in the U.S., a practical risk assessment surely makes sense.

 NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems 2014 Edition is a valuable source for performing a detailed lightning risk assessment methodology to determine the risk of damage or injury due to lightning. Since the FAA is now planning an investigation of lightning protection at airport towers throughout the country, the NFPA Standard and risk assessment guide can serve as a valuable tool for this review.  

The incident certainly underscores the importance of functional lightning protection to keep structures and occupants safe during thunderstorms, but perhaps more notably, this incident has exposed the importance of maintenance and safety standard compliance for these systems.  

So what kind of “TLC” is needed for lightning protection systems?  Industry recommendations call for a visual inspection to be performed annually, with an in-depth inspection and follow-up quality assurance certification or report provided every three to five years. Critical systems (airports certainly apply, here), may need to be inspected every one to three years, depending on activity, occupancy or the environment where the protected structure is located.

In addition to routine maintenance inspections, lightning protection systems should be inspected whenever any alterations, repairs, re-roofing or modifications are made to a protected structure.  A certified LPI lightning protection specialist can repair or modify the system and order a follow-up inspection to ensure continuity of the system and continued compliance with industry safety standards. 

Then there is the problem with old systems. What if your structure is equipped with lightning protection and you don’t know how long ago the system was installed?  Do you know if the system complies with national safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL?  If no one can answer these questions, it’s time to schedule a lightning protection system inspection and maintenance check for the structure.  If the system has antique equipment, cable, rods or grounds, an upgrade is in order, as old and deteriorated lightning protection components can pose an unsafe condition. 

Here are a few important provisions of a lightning protection maintenance check list:

  • Inspection of all air terminals to ensure none are bent, cracked, broken or otherwise damaged.
  • Refastening and tightening of components and conductors where required.
  • Check for loose, damaged or cut cable connections; check connectors and splice fittings to ensure all leads are firmly connected with no loose ends.
  • Ensure through-roof connectors are firm with roof conductors and attached according to industry standards and cable holders and anchors remain firmly attached with proper spacing and runs secured.
  • Continuity tests and measurement of system resistance and grounding electrodes.
  • Inspection and testing of surge protection devices.
  • Confirmation that no part of the system has been weakened by corrosion or vibration.
  • Follow-up inspection (recommended every 3-5 years, or as structural changes and/or re-roofing necessitates) to ensure overall installation methods and materials comply with industry safety standards.
  • Risk assessment methodology (NFPA 780 Annex L) to determine if additional structures on the property are at risk to lightning.

Lightning protection technology requires expertise for system design, installation and quality control. A preventative approach to lightning protection maintenance is important for all protected structures, but especially crucial for airports and critical facilities. Lightning protection system defects caused by age, disconnections, severe weather events, structural neglect, or outside contractor traffic can pose safety problems. An experienced, LPI certified lightning protection specialist can address these safety problems and provide a quality control maintenance inspection to ensure that age, mechanical damage or modifications to the structure do not degrade the system.

If you suspect your structure’s lightning protection system is in need of a little TLC, contact your local LPI expert http://www.lightning.org/installers/ to schedule a maintenance check-up, or contact the LPI-IP office:  info@lpi-ip.com for information about quality assurance inspection services.

Tending to the Trees! How Lightning Protection Provides Sustainability to Keep Trees Healthy & Green

Evidence of what  single lightning strike can do to an unprotected tree.  It's likely this tree would have survived for generations to come if it had been equipped with a lightning protection system.

Evidence of what a single lightning strike can do to an unprotected tree. It’s likely this tree would have survived for generations to come if it had been equipped with a lightning protection system.

January 16, 2014 — “They are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence. They will stand after we are dust.  They teach us, and we tend them.”
–  Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor   

Are you tending to your trees?  Even if you aren’t a full-fledged tree-hugger, you probably know that lightning is nature’s predator.  Lightning damages and kills more trees than we can account for in the U.S.  A single bolt of lightning can carry 100 million volts of electricity, so unless a tree is equipped with a lightning protection system, it can be extremely vulnerable to damage by lightning.  Lightning can injure the tree from a direct hit or side flash (lightning jumping from a nearby object), and problems can vary from light limb damage, to total annihilation. 

Lightning’s electrical charge can boil the liquid sap, causing natural gases in the tree to expand, which in turn cause the bark to split open or the tree to literally explode.  Lightning’s current utilizes the high resistance wood as a conductor, causing massive damage as it transverses the non-conductive elements of the tree on its way to ground.  In some instances, the only evidence of a lightning strike may be the internal browning of the xylem (water-conducting woody tissue), which causes a gradual decay of the tree.  

Here are a few commonly-asked questions about trees, lightning and lightning protection:

Q. Are there risk factors or conditions that apply regarding a tree’s vulnerability to lightning?

A. Geographic location, species/type of tree and height are factors that may apply.  According to agricultural specialists, lightning is most likely to strike trees under these conditions:

  • lone trees
  • tallest trees in a group or tallest tree at the end of a group of trees
  • trees growing in moist soil or close to a body of water
  • trees closest to a building or structure

 Q. Are some trees more vulnerable to lightning than others?

A. Trees most vulnerable to lightning (those with high starch content) include: maple, ash, poplar, pine, oak, hemlock, elm and sycamore.  Large oak trees are often vulnerable due to their size or prominence. Trees less vulnerable (those with high oil content) include: birch, beech and chestnut.

 Q. Why should property owners consider lightning protection for trees?

A. Any trees that are valued for landscaping, sentimental or historical reasons should be protected, including those trees which add aesthetic value to the property. 

 Q. How does a lightning protection system protect a tree from damage?

A. A copper cable and grounding system is used to intercept lightning’s harmful electricity and conduct it safely underground and away from the tree, so that no damage occurs to the wood or the roots.  The principle employed for tree lightning protection (in accordance with national safety standards of LPI-175, NFPA 780 and UL-96A), is the same used to protect structures, homes and buildings. 

 Q. Does the tree lightning protection system also provide protection for nearby structures on the property?

A. No. The system provides protection for the tree only.  Separate lightning protection systems should be considered to protect structures on the property.

 Q. What kind of maintenance is needed for a tree lightning protection system?

A.  An annual visual check of the tree should be made by the property owner or maintenance manager to ensure all elements of the system remain connected and in place.  Occasionally, additional cable runs, air terminals or grounding components may need to be added to accommodate tree growth.  It’s also important to check lightning protection cables at the base of the tree to ensure no system interruption or damage has occurred from weed trimming, lawnmowers, or ground excavation.

 Q. Who can install the lightning protection system?

A. Be sure to contact a UL-listed, LPI-certified lightning protection specialist or a qualified arborist to ensure your system is installed in accordance with national safety standards.

 In most situations, a tree struck by lightning will continue to decline over time and eventually require removal. A tree usually succumbs to disease or death more quickly if the lightning strike passes completely through the trunk (streaks of splintered bark are typically visible on both sides of the tree when this occurs).  Most often, owners will notice signs of decay within two weeks of a lightning strike. Since few trees survive a direct lightning strike, it may be good insurance for property owners to consider lightning protection for vulnerable trees, specimen trees, historic trees or trees over public shelters.

So if your tree is vulnerable to nature’s destructive hazard, a lightning protection system could be the best hug you could give to keep it green and healthy for years to come!

2014 NFPA Safety Standard Adds New Applications for Lightning Protection

nfpaphotoDecember 19, 2013 — The oldest and most comprehensive safety standard for lightning protection has been updated to address several new industry developments.  The recently-released 2014 edition of NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems includes several new applications and requirements for projects specifying lightning protection.

NFPA 780 was adopted by the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) long ago as a reference for the organization and its members.  This important safety standard provides valuable resource information for AHJs, project designers, engineers, insurance professionals and anyone responsible for protection of lives and property from dangers associated with lightning. The 2014 document addresses the newest lightning protection applications and provides updated resource material for known safety challenges. NFPA-780 continues to serve as the basis for the LPI-175 reference document, used by LPI-certified designers, installers and inspectors.

The 84 page document includes new references and sections to address applications including:

Realignment of requirements for strike termination devices (air terminals or lightning rods).

  • Consolidation of bonding requirements (to reduce potential differences created by lightning currents), and coordination with current NEC requirements.
  • Fixed metal objects on buildings with movable or rotating metal components (examples include: cranes, wind socks, observatories, traffic cameras, radar dishes, and opening skylights).
  • Lightning protection criteria and guidance for airfield lighting circuits.
  • Lightning protection guidance for solar systems and arrays (frequently installed on roof tops where risk of exposure is greatest), which addresses the increased demand for renewable and alternative energy sources.
  • Changes to requirements for catenary systems (a lightning protection system consisting of overhead wire/s), and applications to improve protection of open areas.
  • A change back to preferred measurements in inch-pound units from metric.
  • Revision to include structural protection for electric generating plants.
  • Clarification that new requirements are retroactive to existing systems only when specifically noted.

The 2014 edition of NFPA 780 was prepared by the Technical Committee on Lightning Protection and issued by the Standards Council last June to immediately supersede all previous editions of the document.

 

 

Mitigation Call to Action: Support the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013!

Congressman Dennis Ross shares benefits of the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 to attendees at the Mitigation 360 FLASH Conference.

Congressman Dennis Ross shares benefits of the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 to attendees at the Mitigation 360 FLASH Conference.

Lynne McChristian (Insurance Information Institute) and Kim Loehr met in Orlando to support a mitigation call to action at the FLASH annual conference.

Lynne McChristian (Insurance Information Institute) and Kim Loehr met in Orlando to support a mitigation call to action at the FLASH annual conference.

November 27, 2013 — Did you know that disaster safety experts estimate that for every dollar a homeowner invests in mitigation, the return can yield up to seven times the amount in measurable savings? So to use lightning protection as an example, a $3,000 lightning protection system can save a homeowner over $20,000 in damages connected with a single lightning strike or surge event. And if the lightning strike results in a structural fire, the damage costs are likely to escalate well beyond that $20,000 figure.

While homeowners can’t be sure when or where a disaster will strike, they can certainly take measures to plan ahead and increase home safety. Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of lightning protection, may have said it best with his famous quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Now it looks like an incentive may be on the horizon for homeowners who are willing to take that ounce of prevention.

The “Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013” is a proposed federal legislation introduced in October by U.S. Representative Dennis Ross that would help Americans pay for disaster mitigation and preparedness tax-free. The Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 would allow homeowners to deduct up to $5,000 per year through tax-preferred “disaster savings accounts” to use for expenses related to the mitigation of natural disaster risks, including earthquakes, floods, hail, hurricanes, power outages, tornadoes, wildfires and yes, lightning!

In the words of Congressman Ross, “This legislation will give families more tools to invest in their safety and resiliency, and will help contribute to a potential reduction in the economic costs of natural disasters.”

Here is an Official Summary (as listed on a website connected with Congressman Ross) of the Legislation:

Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013 – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
(1) establish tax-exempt disaster savings accounts to pay the expenses of homeowners for equipment and materials for mitigating the effects of a natural disaster,
(2) allow a deduction from gross income (above-the-line deduction) up to $5,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) in a taxable year for cash contributions to such accounts, and
(3) set forth tax rules for account distributions and failure to report on disaster savings accounts.

The proposed legislation is receiving support from mitigation experts such as: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes-FLASH, Florida Insurance Council, The Home Depot, Kohler, RenaissanceRe and Simpson Strong-Tie. LPI joins these experts in support of the legislation and is urging industry members and partners to support the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013.

It’s a certainty that Mother Nature will strike again and again. The question is: will we be better prepared for the next weather event? If homeowners remember Benjamin Franklin’s ounce of prevention advice, they can be better prepared.

As we count our blessings this Thanksgiving, let’s enjoy a little savings and a lot of peace of mind by supporting the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013!

Fire Prevention Campaign Effort Provides $100,000 in Lightning Protection System Donations for Fire Stations!

The Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign is helping to safeguard at risk fire stations, like the one shown here in Palm Harbor, FL. LPI members are partnering with firefighters across the U.S. to sponsor lightning safety awareness events in their communities.

The Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign is helping to safeguard at-risk fire stations, like the one shown here in Palm Harbor, FL. LPI members are partnering with firefighters across the U.S. to sponsor lightning safety awareness events in their communities.

October 18, 2013 — A lot can happen in a year in the world of lightning protection; especially when LPI members get together to support safety and their communities.  A campaign that began last fall to support Sparky the Fire Dog’s “Wish List” has now successfully provided complimentary lightning protection systems for over half a dozen fire stations in high risk lightning regions across the U.S.

The “Building Lightning Safe Communities” campaign was created through an industry initiative to provide lightning protection resources to the public and the fire safety community.  In support of the campaign, several LPI-member firms have donated lightning protection systems for fire stations in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas.  The combined value of these system donations is approximately $100,000.  LPI organized the campaign donations when outreach with the fire safety community revealed that many stations across the country were lacking lightning protection systems to protect their personnel, structures and equipment.

Participating LPI member firms who have donated lightning protection systems for fire stations in their states include: Bonded Lightning Protection Systems, Ltd. of Argyle, Texas; ECLE, of Winsted, Conn.; Guardian Equipment Co., of Novi, Mich.; HLP Systems of Libertyville, Ill; Lightning Specialists, of Palm Harbor, Fla.; Mr. Lightning, of Colorado Springs, Colo. and Thompson Lightning Protection, of St. Paul, Minn.

Through the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign, LPI members have strengthened partnerships with fire safety officials across the country. Fire Prevention Month is a perfect opportunity to remind firefighters of the important ways they can help promote lightning safety awareness:

  1. Education!  As first responders, firefighters play a critical role in the education process.  A single bolt of lightning can pack 100 million volts of electricity which can be devastating to an unprotected structure. Firefighters can help educate the public and the media about code-compliant lightning protection systems, which provide a practical, tested solution against a common, yet underrated weather threat.
  2. Promote NFPA 780!  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building and life safety. The NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems is a document that covers requirements for structures, watercraft, wind turbines and solar arrays to protect lives and property from fire and related dangers associated with lightning events.  Firefighters can support fire and lightning safety by promoting this important document.
  3. Report Lightning Fires! Fire safety month is a perfect time to remind fire professionals to include lightning in their NFIRS reports where relevant to prevent under-reporting and increase awareness about a preventable risk.
  4. Stay Safe!  LPI reminds firefighters to stay safe when responding to lightning incidents and assisting lightning victims.  Visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov for important lightning safety information.
  5.  Learn More!  LPI invites firefighters to visit www.lightning-risk.org and www.lightning.org to learn more about the dangers of lightning and how to help protect people and property against this deadly weather threat.

For more information about the Building Lightning Safe Communities campaign visit www.lightningsafe.org.

 

 

Building Lightning Safe Communities Goes Global with the Haiti Project

 

The Haiti Project will help provide lightning protection resources for the orphans at St. Helen's Home in the Kenscoff mountains.

The Haiti Project will help provide lightning protection resources for the orphans at St. Helen’s Home in the Kenscoff mountains.

haitiphotologo2September 17, 2013 — Haiti is no stranger to severe weather and natural disasters. In recent years, devastating earthquakes, hurricanes and floods have taken their toll on the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Our neighbors some 700 miles off the Florida coastline are also extremely vulnerable to a common weather threat that can impact their lives and livelihood on a much more frequent basis.  You guessed it; that threat is lightning.

Haiti’s St. Helen’s Home (NPFS) and Orphanage has suffered repeated lightning strikes to its facility and is seeking relief from lightning’s wrath. The orphanage compound sits on the top of the highest point in the Kenscoff mountains and is vulnerable to severe thunderstorms and damaging lightning. Lightning has already caused many problems for the orphanage with damaged electronics and equipment. In addition to the electrical problems, lightning poses a serious safety concern for the children—some of who are severely handicapped and disabled.

In a quest for information and help, the orphanage’s volunteer administrator contacted LPI last winter.  After a series of emails, conference calls and pledges of support, a volunteer team known as the Building Lightning Safe Communities (BLSC) – Haiti Project “dream team” was formed.

Members of the BLSC Haiti Project team have formed a plan to utilize resources in order to provide a total protection package for the orphanage. Volunteers from the lightning protection industry, the NOAA/NWS Lightning Safety Awareness team and groups including: Roadie Relief, Project Cure, Weather Decision Technology, Music for Relief and One World Futbol.com have pledged to assist with various aspects of the lightning protection project.  A three member advance team (Mark Morgan, Guy Maxwell and Mitch Guthrie) traveled to Haiti this past July to survey the orphanage. The advance team is presently outlining the necessary manpower, materials and costs needed to provide a comprehensive lightning protection package for the various facility structures.  The total protection package for St. Helen’s will rely on an extended group effort and generous donations of time, talent and resources.

Information about the BLSC initiative, the Haiti Project and the lightning relief dream team member list can be found at www.lighntingsafe.org.  Please visit www.lightningsafe.org and contact LPI if your organization or group is able to provide support for this project.  Join the Haiti project dream team and help LPI build lightning safe communities!

Partners Load the Bases & Pitch “Play it Safe” for Lightning Awareness Outreach!

Red Sox fans wear "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" lightning bolt visors to show support for Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

Red Sox fans wear “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” lightning bolt visors to show support for Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

 

fenwayparkphoto

fenwayfansfamilyAugust 19, 2013 — When partners load the bases to pinch hit for lightning awareness outreach, safety scores a home run! This is what happened when partners from nonprofit organizations across the country came together in Boston to promote the 2013 Lightning Safety Awareness Week campaign.

Historically speaking, the months of June, July and August are the deadliest months for lightning in the U.S.  Summer months typically mean long hot days with humid conditions for most regions in the U.S. and humidity translates to perfect conditions for lightning.  And since leisure activities are in full force during June, July and August, it’s no coincidence that the majority of lightning deaths occur while victims are participating in these outdoor activities.

But, just how to get the public’s attention to heed lightning safety during leisure time, has remained a challenge. So, on June 28, 2013 the National Weather Service (NWS) decided it was time to take lightning safety to the ball game–and passionate lightning safety advocates wearing yellow lightning bolt visors were sent to help with the pitching!

In a game plan to bring lightning safety to FenwayPark, the NWS forecast office in Taunton, MA organized a LSA Week promotion with the Red Sox’s Community Home-Stand Program. Meteorologist, Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, jumped at the opportunity to pitch lightning safety at FenwayPark and arranged for a NWS lightning safety booth at the June 28, Red Sox-Blue Jays game during Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

NWS Lightning Safety Awareness Team lead, Donna Franklin coordinated booth materials with Vallier-Talbot to make sure the display was both attention-getting and educational.  Red Sox fans were introduced to a variety of LSA week messages, including the “Safer Design for Safer Play” campaign which promotes lightning safety and protection measures for recreational venues. LPI and the Lightning Safety Alliance donated Leon the Lightning Lion posters, safety materials and yellow lightning bolt visors for the fans.  The “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” foam visors scored a major hit with Red Sox fans, young and old.

The most exciting moment in the “Play it Safe” outreach at Fenway came in the middle of the fifth inning, when the pre-arranged lightning safety message appeared on the center field New Balance scoreboard.  “June 23-30 is National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Play it Safe!” flashed across the Fenway board for all to see.  Although the PSA only appeared for a brief moment in the game, it felt like a homerun to the LSA team partners who had thrown their last pitch of the night for lightning safety awareness!

Oh, and by the way, the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 7-5; which was pretty sweet, too!

Eleanor Vallier-Talbot with the National Weather Service office in Taunton, MA and Kim Loehr were pinch-hitters for Lightning Safety Awareness at Fenway Park on June 28, 2013.