April Showers Bring Lightning Losses Around the Country. Is More Hazardous Weather on Tap for May?

 

Spring showers are bringing beautiful flowers, but dangerous thunderstorms are not  so welcome.  Find out how a lightning protection system can protect your structure so you can safely enjoy the sights and sounds of spring.

Spring showers are bringing beautiful flowers, but dangerous thunderstorms are not so welcome. Find out how a lightning protection system can protect your structure so you can safely enjoy the sights and sounds of spring.

April 23, 2013 — Recent lightning-triggered fires across the country highlight the destructive impact this hazardous force of nature can have on unprotected homes and structures.  In recent days, lightning has ignited numerous home, business and church fires in states across the country.  Illinois has been a region notably impacted by widespread accounts of lightning strikes.  Severe storms in this region of the country produced damaging lightning strikes that caused evacuations at a Cancer Treatment Center in Swansea, a Praxair facility in Cahokia and a McDonald’s restaurant in the Wood River area.  According to news accounts, firefighters responded to reports of fire and smoke at these businesses and to a string of other lightning fires at multiple residences in nearby Illinois suburbs.

It seems like this April weather is just a foreshadowing of a stormy spring season, as weather forecasters are predicting more of the same across other parts of the country.  Rapidly fluctuating temperatures, increased moisture and rising daytime heat can provide prime conditions for spring and summer thunderstorms to develop.

Against this backdrop of unpredictable weather, LPI reminds property owners of the importance of lightning protection systems in helping to prevent injury and property loss during lightning storms.  In a worse case scenario a lightning strike to an unprotected structure can cause catastrophic fire damage.  A best case scenario may mean damage to electronics or appliances—translating to expensive repairs and inconvenient downtime.  Fortunately, a lightning protection system can offer an affordable and reliable solution against this underrated, yet highly destructive weather hazard.

A lightning protection system provides a network of low resistance paths to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants. But the key to safe and reliable protection is through professional installation.  Grounding 30 million+ volts of electricity is not a do-it-yourself project, so home and business owners should not attempt to install lightning protection systems!   As property owners consider an investment in lightning protection, they should be sure to contract with qualified and experienced specialists who are trained to install systems in accordance with the nationally recognized safety standards of LPI, NFPA and UL.

It only takes one lightning strike to reduce a home or building to rubble and lightning doesn’t discriminate with regard to its victims.  Sir Richard Branson felt the wrath of lightning’s destruction in August of 2011 when his home on Necker Island was destroyed by a lightning strike that forced his household and guests to evacuate in the early hours of the morning. News reports of the lightning fire cited visiting actress, Kate Winslet rescuing Branson’s 90-year old mother from the blaze.  Thankfully, Branson and his family and guests safely evacuated without injury, but his home and its contents were lost for good.

Lightning can wreak havoc on unsuspecting home and business owners.  Since it doesn’t discriminate according to region of the country like other natural disasters, most areas are susceptible to lightning strikes.  Recognizing the impact of lightning is the first step in preventing damage.

 

 

Be a “Force of Nature” during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week!

 

Lightning safety and protection experts from around the country shared resources and  information at the annual LPI/ULPA Conference in Las Vegas from February 26 - March 1, 2013.

Lightning safety and protection experts from around the country shared resources and information at the annual LPI/ULPA Conference in Las Vegas from February 26 – March 1, 2013.

March 6, 2013 — FEMA and NOAA have partnered to designate March 3-9, 2013 as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week and are calling upon all Americans to Be a Force of Nature.  National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort to increase awareness of severe weather and to motivate individuals, families, businesses, and communities to take actions that will prepare them in the event of severe weather.

LPI is joining the effort and reminding its members and the public to Be a Force of Nature and better prepare for severe weather threats, including the often underrated threat of lightning.

Lightning protection experts from around the U.S. recently met in Las Vegas for the 81st  annual LPI/ULPA Lightning Protection Conference and discussed ways that LPI members can Be a Force of Nature by knowing the lightning risk, taking action, spreading education and serving as an example.

Each year, individuals are killed or seriously injured by lightning, tornadoes and other types of severe weather, despite advance warning. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries. Severe weather knows no boundaries and affects every individual. While lightning is often underrated as a weather hazard, it is a leading storm-related killer.  Lightning is also responsible for more than a billion dollars in property damage each year.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a good time to remind individuals, families, communities,  design professionals and safety engineers about lightning safety and lightning protection measures.  Design professionals can find new educational resources about lightning protection for outdoor facilities at www.lightning-risk.org.

More information and ideas on how you can Be a Force of Nature can be found at www.ready.gov/severeweather.   Information on the different types of severe weather such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flooding is available at www.weather.gov.

or the Spanish-language web site www.listo.gov.  Information about lightning safety is available at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.

Take action and Be a Force of Nature!   And during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, don’t forget about lightning, the underrated, but commonly experienced weather threat that affects most Americans most of the time.

Lightning Safe Communities Campaign Helping to Protect Fire Stations

FireStationdallasphoto As first responders, firefighters play a critical role in lightning safety and the lightning protection education process.  The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) has made a commitment to support firefighters by sponsoring a “Campaign to Help Build Lightning Safe Communities.”  This is a continuation of LPI’s recent initiative to provide lightning protection resources to the public and the fire safety community.  LPI-certified master installer firms are participating in the campaign to provide complimentary lightning protection systems for designated fire stations in several high risk lightning regions of the U.S. including: Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Toledo.  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.

So what kind of problems does this weather threat cause for fire

LPI member firm, Bonded Lightning Protection provided a complimentary lightning protection system for Austin Fire Station #37 in June of 2011.

LPI Member Firm, Bonded Lightning Protection, provided a complimentary lightning protection system for Austin Fire Station #37 in June of 2011.

 

stations?  Common lightning problems include failures of internal building systems, damage to expensive electronics and fire-protection equipment, and in worse case scenarios, structural fires.  Fortunately, lightning protection systems can provide critical security for fire stations and other service structures.

According to a 2010 NFPA analysis, titled “Lightning Fires and Lightning Strikes,” fire departments in the U.S. responded to an estimated 24,600 lightning fires per year from 2004 to 2008.  These fires were responsible for civilian and firefighter deaths, injuries and approximately $407 million in preventable property damage.  Statistics for lightning fires are typically obtained from surveys and voluntary reporting sources.  Since reporting is voluntary, the actual number of lightning fires is believed to be much higher than the estimated reports.

Part of LPI’s campaign message is to remind fire professionals to include information about lightning incidents in their NFIRS and NFPA reports where relevant.  LPI believes accurate reporting can help alleviate apathy against a destructive weather hazard and increase awareness about a preventable fire risk.  Fire safety professionals may also want to refer to the NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems which is a valuable resource for reducing lightning risks.

Contact LPI for more information about the Lightning Safe Communities Campaign. Through awareness, education and partnership, LPI will continue its mission to help build lightning safe communities!

 

 

“Thundersnow” on Franklin’s Birthday is a Reminder that Hazardous Weather can Strike without Warning!

St.Johns_016

The lightning protection system at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia was recently upgraded in conjunction with a historic renovation project. The historic church was the setting for Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech delivered in 1775.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported lightning striking from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest during a widespread winter storm that recently hit the U.S. and parts of Canada on January 17, 2013.  The date happened to be Benjamin Franklin’s 306th birthday, who ironically, happens to be the inventor of the lightning rod.

“Thundersnow” is a rare weather phenomenon that features the unusual combination of thunder, lightning and snow.  According to the NWS, thundersnow is so rare that it only occurs in less than one percent of observed snowstorms.

So what causes this weather phenomenon?  The NWS explains that thundersnow occurs when lightning forms after an electric charge separation process in updrafts and downdrafts created inside a convective system.  Enhanced air instability, a quick temperature change from surface to cloud and a charge separation process can trigger lightning and the ensuing thundersnow.

Lightning occurring during thundersnow has been known to zap trees, homes, buildings and traffic lights; although wide-spread power outages during these storms are a more common scenario.  Restoration and repair of power lines in the winter can be especially tricky when heavy snows impact travel and road accessibility.  While lightning is commonly an underrated weather threat, it’s even more so during winter storms when thunderstorm conditions can be harder to predict. The average lightning bolt can carry 100 million volts of electrical power and it’s virtually impossible to predict when and where lightning will strike.  Lightning can strike miles ahead of a parent thunderstorm and several minutes after a storm leaves a specific area; which is why the NWS has dubbed lightning as “the first thunderstorm hazard to arrive and the last to leave.”

Even though lightning is a frequently experienced weather peril and a known fire risk for structures, myths still persist about lightning protection.  Franklin’s famous kite and key experiment in 1750 proved that lightning is electricity and thus led to his invention of the lightning rod and structural lightning protection systems.  The Franklin rod was designed to conduct lightning’s electricity and disperse it safely into the ground.  Soon after Franklin’s invention, lightning rods and lightning protection systems began to be installed on buildings and homes for protection against a common cause of structural fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) first adopted “Specifications for Protection of Buildings Against Lightning” in 1904, which eventually led to lightning protection code 78 and the ensuing “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems” NFPA 780 document adopted in 1992.

Lightning protection has come a long way since Franklin first invented the lightning rod in 1752, but the principles behind the science of lightning protection remain the same today.  Franklin’s famous quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” still rings true in terms of the security lightning protection can provide against nature’s underrated threat—whether that dangerous weather condition strikes in spring, summer, fall or even winter!

 

Remember the Lightning Protection when Going Green! Hazard resistance can improve sustainability & prevent losses.

Lightning protection provides a low resistance path to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to structure or occupants — certainly a green building practice for sustainability against nature’s underrated threat!

     Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on you, your home and your property. While sustainable building design concepts are increasingly being incorporated into construction through green building rating systems, it’s important that these practices also implement resiliency measures to address natural hazards. Designers, builders and code officials are typically mindful of practices that provide resistance to natural hazards such as high winds, earthquakes, floods and wildfires–but what about lightning? The risk of lightning and especially fire associated with lightning, is often overlooked and underrated as a potential threat. Even the most safety-conscious designer, may not have considered this risk that affects thousands of homeowners each year. Lightning associated with thunderstorms and sometimes hurricanes can pose a variety of fire hazards. The massive power of lightning’s electrical charge and intense heat can induce destructive power surges through home circuitry, burn holes in CSST gas piping, explode brick and roofing materials, and ignite house fires.

While it’s true that lightning losses are generally a covered peril in most property insurance policies, usually there are treasured belongings that homeowners can’t replace or restore. Lightning protection is often one of the least expensive improvements that homeowners can purchase, and it can provide the best type of insurance – peace of mind and protection for family, home and valuables.

Lightning is also unique in that it doesn’t discriminate according to the region of the country. Most regions in the U.S. are susceptible to lightning strikes. Since lightning strikes more than 250,000 times per year and the vast majority of homes in the U.S. do not have lightning protection systems, there is a real potential for danger and destruction. The upside is that typically, only minimal design modifications are needed to address hazard resistance against this frequently destructive force of nature. For homeowners who don’t want to take a chance with lightning, a professionally installed lightning protection system is a viable idea.

A lightning protection system provides a network of low resistance paths to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants. When lightning’s electricity is confined to a properly designed conductive path via a lightning protection system (e.g. roof network, grounding, bonding and surge protection) damage can be minimized or eliminated. Providing this low resistance path means the lightning does not try to fight its way through non-conductive building materials like wood, brick, rubber membranes, glass and plastic en route to the ground. Since the resistance encountered in these materials is what produces heat, fires and even explosions, adding a lightning protection system can safeguard a home from the resultant effects of lightning.

It’s important for designers, builders and code officials to include lightning protection among green building practices for natural hazard resistance. Green buildings also use state of the art energy collection methods that can be susceptible to damage by direct or nearby lightning strikes. Lightning’s harmful surges can zap, interrupt and damage these internal building systems. Repair and service of these systems can result in homeowner headaches and often lead to costly service fees. Not only is lightning protection effective and affordable, but it provides another measure to improve building safety, resiliency, sustainability and efficiency. So if you’re going green with building plans, don’t forget the lightning protection!

Post-Hurricane Clean-up Highlights Need to Coordinate Lightning Protection Repairs with Re-roofing

Lightning protection components such as strike termination devices (rods) and conductors can be impacted when a building is damaged by extreme weather events and re-roofing is required.

Lightning protection components such as strike termination devices (rods) and conductors can be impacted when a building is damaged by extreme weather events and re-roofing is required.[/caption]

  Coordination Ensures Proper Maintenance for Both 

Weather events like hurricanes, high winds, ice and snow, and extreme temperatures can degrade a structure’s roof system, and in turn affect the continuity of your home or business’s lightning protection system.  Building upgrades (roof construction, remodeling, changes to the mechanical or communication system, etc) can also alter or interrupt the lightning protection system.  These are just some of the reasons why it’s important that residential or commercial building repairs, re-roofing or maintenance work include an annual inspection of the lightning protection system to ensure quality control.

Unfortunately, the integration and maintenance of lightning protection systems in conjunction with roof systems has not received adequate attention from the roofing and construction industries.  A lack of coordination between roof system and lightning protection system specifications and their associated trades can result in a variety of maintenance issues and roofing problems.  There is a consensus in the roofing industry that standard details pertaining to the integration of a lightning protection system into a roof system need to be developed by the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), but these entities have no specialized knowledge in the compliance requirements for complete systems. In the interim, the lightning protection safety standards of NFPA 780, UL 96A and LPI 175 should be used as a point of reference.

Maintenance and inspection of existing lightning protection systems to continue the designed safety for the structure is an ongoing process. NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems, 2011 Edition, advocates a visual inspection to make sure exposed components are still in good working order every year, and a comprehensive testing inspection every five years for any system.  Specialized systems for homes in extreme-weather prone regions may need even shorter inspection cycles.

The Lightning Protection Institute Standard of Practice for the Design-Installation-Inspection of Lightning Protection Systems, (LPI-175) outlines the importance of reinspecting the lightning protection system at regular intervals to verify its continued effectiveness, similar to inspections of roofing materials, flashings, or exterior wall coverings.  LPI-175 provides a list of checkpoints for the building owner or system installer to reference during the inspection and maintenance procedure. The LPI-177 Inspection Guide for Certified Systems can be used with the LPI-175 Standard to aide in the inspection process.  An inspection guide like LPI-177 or the Lightning Protection Institute Inspection Program (LPI-IP) will not only identify elements of the lightning protection system that may need to be corrected, but it will address changes to the structure that require an extension of the system for proper protection.

Structural additions and remodels may call for extension of the existing system, but less apparent are internal system changes that may extend to the exterior of the building.  The addition of roof mounted vents and mechanical units from process changes or placing an antenna for communication networks or cameras for security upgrades can change the risk of damage significantly.  Review by a professional installer or inspector of lightning protection systems can catch these details so that the system can be extended or repaired to incorporate these changes for continued safe performance.

Various elements of the reproofing 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 reinstallation.  The process of removal and reinstallation on phased projects needs coordination to maximize time under protection.  Structurally mounted hardware needs to be properly anchored according to the Standards.  Bonding reinstallation must fulfill the system needs for roof-level potential equalization.  Runs of cable conductor must provide the most direct low-impedance path to building downleads and structural steel.  The total package must return the building to the protected zone of the lightning protection system for the expected safety level of occupants and contents.

LPI provides certification testing for individuals to show their competency in this specialized trade according to the lightning protection Standards.   LPI  qualifies contractors through examination for system design, inspection and installation–so look to LPI as a key resource for maintenance of your lightning protection system to ensure performance  to last the life of the structure.

 

 

 

 

It’s Fire Prevention Week! Could Your Home be at Risk to Fire Sparked by Lightning?

Your home should be a safe haven for you and your family.  But even the most safety-conscious homeowner may not have considered a risk that affects thousands of homeowners each year.  Lightning associated with thunderstorms and sometimes hurricanes can pose a variety of fire hazards and these fires have highlighted the dangerous and destructive impact that lightning can have on protected homes and structures.

According to a recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, titled “Lightning Fires and Lightning Strikes” fire departments in theU.S. respond to an estimated 24,600 home lightning fires each year.  These home fires caused an estimated average of 12 civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries and $407 million in property damage per year.  Despite these staggering statistics, lightning is often overlooked as a specific peril, even though substantial claims and great devastation result from it.  What’s unique about lightning is that it doesn’t discriminate according to geographical regions, as most areas of the country are susceptible to lightning strikes.  Since lightning strikes more than 250,000 times per year and the vast majority of homes in theU.S. do not have lightning protection systems, there is a real potential for danger and destruction.

Just this summer, an elderly man and his granddaughter died after lightning sparked a house fire in Louisville,Kentucky. The elderly man was bedridden and his granddaughter was trying to get him out of the house.  According to Louisville firefighters, lightning struck a 80-ft tree and entered a phone wire that traveled through the rear of the house.  Melted wire indicated that the phone line had carried lightning’s electricity into the basement of the home.  A neighbor who witnessed the event, described the severity of the fire as “like having a blow torch coming out of the house.”   Sadly, the elderly man died of his injuries at the scene and the granddaughter was later declared dead at a Louisville hospital.

LPI is seizing Fire Prevention Week as an opportunity to remind the public of the importance of lightning protection systems in helping to prevent property loss, injury and death during lightning storms.  When fire (or lightning!) strikes, your home could be engulfed in smoke and flames in just a matter of minutes, so it’s important to have a fire escape plan in place to help your family be prepared and get out quickly.  This year’s NFPA’s campaign theme focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice.  According, LPI supports the “Have 2 Ways Out” theme in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, 2012. Visithttp://www.fpw.org for more information.

Lightning Protection and Insurance Loss Mitigation Rewards for Homeowners

Similar to other home security measures that reduce expected losses for insurers, lightning protection systems provide valuable loss mitigation against a costly weather hazard that affects millions of homeowners in the U.S. Statistically, lightning is the most commonly experienced weather hazard, unlike earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes or hurricanes, which are more likely to affect homeowners in certain geographical regions of the country. Unpredictable weather hazards continue to incur costly losses, which is why insurance companies are recognizing the importance of rewarding loss mitigation efforts by offering premium credits and discounts. When homeowners take steps to better protect their property against weather hazards affecting their geographical region, insurance companies take notice! This can translate into insurance companies rewarding their savvy customers by lowering the cost of their homeowners policies.

In most states insurance companies offer premium credits for security systems, fire alarms, residential sprinkler systems, permanently installed back-up generators and other protective measures for the entire external perimeter of the home. Lightning protection systems are recognized as “protection for the entire external perimeter of the home” and as such, are often considered for credits.

So, how does a homeowner go about securing an insurance credit or discount for their lightning protection system installation? Well, quite simply, the homeowner might need to ask.  Since some insurance providers don’t have set policies regarding lightning protection credits or incentives, the homeowner may need to contact their agent or broker for assistance in determining their eligibility for a discount.

Here are some tips for homeowners to keep in mind when inquiring about insurance discounts:

• Ask the insurance agent or broker if the lightning protection system installation is applicable for a discount or credit under “security protection for external perimeter” or “weatherproofing mitigation” guidelines.
• Make sure that the lightning protection system is installed by a qualified LPI-certified installer in accordance with LPI, NFPA and UL safety standards so that the installation meets quality assurance requirements.
• Request that the installing firm provide system compliance information (inspection or proof of installation document) to forward to the insurance provider upon completion of their service.
• Ask the insurance provider about discounts for loss mitigation efforts. If premiums are being lowered for mitigation efforts for earthquakes (frame anchoring, bracing cripple walls, strapping a water heater in place, etc.) or for hurricanes (roof bracing, hurricane shutters, or retrofitted doors), then loss mitigation for lightning may be applicable for discount, as well.
• Acquaint your insurance provider with lightning loss statistics (lightning cost more than a billion dollars in insured losses in 2011 and the average homeowner claim was approximately $5,122.) The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) http://www.iii.org is a good resource for obtaining lightning loss information.
• Link your insurance provider with lightning protection industry resources that provide information and continuing education services, such as the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) http://www.lightning.org and the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA) http://www.lightningsafetyalliance.org if the provider has questions or needs more information.

Some of the insurance providers known to provide credits, incentives, discounts and recommendations for lightning protection systems include: AIG Private Client Group, Chubb, Saint Paul Travelers, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, the Hartford and Citizens/Hanover Insurance. LPI invites insurance providers who are interested in sharing their customer incentives for lightning protection to contact us at lpi@lightning.org.

Lightning is an extremely powerful force that should never be underestimated. A single bolt of lightning can pack up to 100 million volts of devastating electricity—which is why an ounce of prevention (a professionally installed lightning protection system) can be worth a pound of cure!

Nuts&Bolts

Hurricane Season is a Timely Reminder of the Devastating Effect Natural Disasters Can Have on You and Your Property

We hear a lot about sustainable building design concepts and have witnessed an increase in sustainability being incorporated into construction through green building rating systems. There is certainly a consensus of the importance of implementing resiliency measures to fortify homes and structures to address concerns about most natural hazards. Designers, builders and code officials are typically mindful of practices that provide resistance to natural hazards such as high winds, earthquakes, floods and wildfires–but what about lightning? The risk of lightning and especially fire associated with lightning, is often overlooked and underrated as a potential threat. Even the most safety-conscious designer, may not have considered this risk that affects thousands of homeowners each year. Lightning associated with thunderstorms and sometimes hurricanes can pose a variety of fire hazards. The massive power of lightning’s electrical charge and intense heat can induce destructive power surges through home circuitry, burn holes in CSST gas piping, explode brick and roofing materials, and ignite house fires.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) lightning strikes in the U.S. cost nearly $1 billion in insured losses in 2011. These losses ranged from damage to expensive electronic equipment, to structural fires that destroyed entire homes.

While it’s true that lightning losses are generally a covered peril in most property insurance policies, there are treasured belongings that homeowners can’t replace or restore. Lightning protection is often one of the least expensive improvements that homeowners can purchase, and it can provide the best type of insurance – peace of mind and protection for family, home and valuables.

What’s unique about lightning is that it doesn’t discriminate according to the region of the country, as most areas are susceptible to lightning strikes. Since lightning strikes more than 250,000 times per year and the vast majority of homes in the U.S. do not have lightning protection systems, there is a real potential for danger and destruction. The upside is that typically, only minimal design modifications are needed to address hazard resistance against this frequently destructive force of nature. For homeowners who don’t want to take a chance with lightning, a professionally installed lightning protection system is a viable idea.

A lightning protection system provides a network of low resistance paths to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants. When lightning’s electricity is confined to a properly designed conductive path via a lightning protection system (e.g. roof network, grounding, bonding and surge protection) damage can be minimized or eliminated. The highly conductive copper and aluminum materials used in a lightning protection system provide a low resistance path through which lightning can travel. Providing this low resistance path means the lightning does not try to fight its way through non-conductive building materials like wood, brick, rubber membranes, glass and plastic en route to the ground. Since the resistance encountered in these materials is what produces heat, fires and even explosions, adding a lightning protection system can safeguard a home from the resultant effects of lightning.

It’s important for designers, builders and code officials to include lightning protection among green building practices for natural hazard resistance. Not only is lightning protection effective and affordable, but it provides another measure to improve building resiliency. Since quality control issues frequently arise in building planning and the field, technical support is often necessary to ensure systems comply with national installation safety standards. Of the national authorities who write and revise the lightning protection safety standards, LPI is the only one founded specifically to study lightning protection. The Lightning Protection Institute – Inspection Program (LPI-IP) provides on-site lightning protection system inspection services, follow-up inspection reports and issues certification for systems that comply with national safety standards of LPI-175, NFPA-780 and/or UL-96A. The LPI-IP program was designed to serve a growing industry need for a comprehensive third party inspection approach for commercial and residential projects in the U.S. Visit the LPI-IP web site at www.lpi-ip.com for more information.

Safer Design Leads to Safer Play During Lightning Season

New Website Connects Facilities and Patrons with Educational Materials

LPI and the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA) have joined forces to launch a lightning safety initiative to provide educational resources for outdoor recreational facilities.  The “Safer Design for Safer Play” campaign features a new website, www.lightning-risk.org, that provides best practices for lightning safety and effective lightning protection measures for outdoor facilities such as theme parks, golf courses, playgrounds and sports stadiums.  The website is an information warehouse which connects owners, operators, designers and patrons of recreational facilities with useful information about lightning, a deadly yet often underrated threat.

The “Safer Design for Safer Play” initiative dovetails with new efforts by the National Weather Service (NWS) to promote greater lightning safety at outdoor venues.  The NWS has created a new “Lightning Safety Toolkit for Large Venues” that details the voluntary steps recreational facilities can adopt to better protect patrons from lightning threats in order to earn NWS recognition for a lightning safety program.

“The National Weather Service is pleased to see the lightning protection industry offer new educational resources to the public and those who design and operate recreational facilities,” said Donna Franklin, NWS program coordinator for lightning safety. “By leveraging our own efforts with the work of the private sector and other disaster safety organizations, we hope to help avert future lightning-related tragedies at outdoor venues.”

Lightning safety at outdoor recreational venues is a special concern, as a significant percentage of lightning deaths and injuries occur in these settings. Last September, a lifeguard at Adventure Island in Tampa, FL was killed while evacuating a water slide as a lightning storm approached.  Just a month earlier, eight people were injured by a lightning strike after exiting a water pool at SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove in Orlando.  Numerous other lightning fatalities and injuries have occurred at golf courses, campgrounds and baseball fields.

Providing lightning protection for recreational facilities with large open areas is difficult but not impossible. The new initiative is designed to connect recreational facility designers and operators with the educational resources they need to help reduce risk and keep patrons safe against lightning.  Facility designers can rely on the same criteria that organizations like the FAA, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense have developed to protect munitions, piers, air fields and camps. These design criteria are described in the National Fire Protection Association Standard, NFPA 780 – Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems.   Designers can also turn to LPI and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for more information on effective lightning protection system design. Detailed information about these standards is available at www.lightning-risk.org.

“As summer months carry an increased lightning threat, we encourage patrons of recreational facilities to visit lightning-risk.org to become better educated about how they can protect themselves and their families when visiting their favorite golf course, beach or theme park,” said Bud VanSickle, LPI executive director.

VanSickle also urged people to lend their support to the “Safer Design for Safer Play” initiative by clicking on the ‘Join the Lightning Safety Initiative’ button on the www.lightning-risk.org home page. Individuals and owners, operators or designers of recreational facilities can sign up for emails about upcoming educational and training opportunities relating to lightning safety and lightning protection systems or submit relevant reports, articles or presentations that can be posted on the lightning-risk.org website.