Be sure to join the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) later this month as we partner to host a Twitter Chat during Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 24-30, 2018.
#LightningSafetyWeek aims to educate the public about lightning safety and lightning protection with the hope of reducing electrical fires, electrical injuries, and electrocutions caused by lightning. ESFI and LPI are calling upon our network of electrical safety ambassadors and our building lightning safe communities supporters to be a part of the dialogue!
The chat will take place on Monday, June 25th, 2018 at 2 p.m. EDT. RSVP and receive more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or participate in real time on Twitter using the hashtag #LightningSafetyWeek.
Mark your calendars for Monday, June 25 and be sure to join the enlightening conversation for #LightningSafetyWeek!
Four ways to prepare for the dog days of summer to take the bite out of lightning’s increased threat.
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer and summertime fun in the great outdoors. As the onset of summer ushers in elevated thunderstorm activity, here are four things Americans can do to better prepare themselves for the lightning threat.
1. Take the lightning threat seriously.
Most lightning victims are steps away from lightning safety—a reminder not to be apathetic about lightning. Although approximately 90% of lightning victims survive being struck by lightning, injuries can be severe and debilitating, as detailed in this video. Remember to heed lightning’s warning “bark.” If you hear thunder five seconds after you see a lightning flash, you can estimate that lightning is about a mile away, and too close for comfort. Since no place outside is safe from lightning, be sure to practice this simple, yet life-saving safety advice: When thunder roars, stay indoors!
2. Plan ahead to avoid the risk, but know what to do if unexpected weather strikes.
Remember to plan ahead for outdoor activities by checking weather forecasts and monitoring changing weather conditions. When in a group, make sure to have an agreed upon lightning plan in place and be ready to act in time to get everyone to a safe place when unexpected weather conditions warrant a quick response. If a safe place is not available, these safety tips may reduce your chances of being struck when caught outdoors.
3. Get to know lightning to understand its dangers.
Learning more about the science of lightning can go a long way to helping humans understand more about how lightning impacts people, places and property. Just in time for summer storm season, the lightning experts at Vaisala have published, “So You Think You Know Lightning: A Collection of Electrifying Fast Facts!” The fun and easy-to-read booklet is designed to help the young and old understand the basics about lightning physics, safety and detection.
4. Learn the facts to help dispel the fallacies about lightning safety and protection.
Despite increased awareness about the dangers of lightning and the benefits of lightning protection systems, misunderstandings about safety measures persist. Unfortunately, repeated myths about lightning and false claims about lightning protection have put people and property at risk. The Lightning Protection Institute frequently posts blogs and Q&A information to help separate fact from fallacy about lightning safety and lightning protection.
Benjamin Franklin was right when he coined the phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although the quote is frequently used when referring to health, historians say that Franklin actually was addressing fire safety—and perhaps his invention of the lightning rod, as well. Preventing lightning deaths, injuries and property losses before they happen is why the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) continues to collaborate with like-minded partners to develop lightning safety and lightning protection resources. Visit lightning.org to learn more and be sure to share LPI’s resources to help further lightning safety in your community!
Lightning Protection Systems are best way to ground dangerous electricity
MARYVILLE, Mo., May 7, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Lightning poses a threat to life and property, with structural fires regularly caused due to either a direct strike or because lightning’s electricity has surged through a structure’s wiring, according to the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI).
“To protect the structures they own from lightning-caused damage, business and home owners should seriously consider installing a Lightning Protection System (LPS),” said Bud VanSickle, executive director, LPI. “Lightning Protection Systems safely ground lightning’s dangerous electricity without impact to the structure, its occupants or contents when installed properly.”
The LPI is highlighting the importance of Lightning Protection Systems as the International Code Council (ICC) marks the second week (May 6-12, 2018) of its annual Building Safety Month with a focus on “Advancing Resilient Communities Through Science and Technology.”
To coincide with the ICC’s Building Safety Month, the LPI released this week an infographic on the importance of ‘Building Lightning Safe Communities to Weather the Storm.’
“Resilience starts with strong, regularly updated, and properly implemented building codes. So, whether you’re considering renovating, remodeling, or building from the ground up, look for the latest technology and make sure it is based on the codes and standards that put safety and efficiency first,” states the ICC’s website, in a section on how Science & Technology are leading the way when it comes to building safety.
Given the growing interest in LPS and the beneficial role these systems play in building safety, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) updates its Safety Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems (NFPA 780) every three years.
“Homeowners insurers nationwide paid out $826 million to help more than 100,000 policyholders recover economically from lightning-caused property damage in 2016,” said Michael Barry, Head of Media and Public Affairs at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “Policyholders who are debating whether to install a Lightning Protection System should ask their insurer if they offer discounts for LPS-equipped structures.”
Florida—the state with the most thunderstorms—remained the top state for lightning claims in 2016, with 10,385, followed by Texas (9,098), and Georgia (8,037), according to the I.I.I.
Founded in 1955, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is a not-for-profit, nationwide group 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 more information about lightning protection system requirements and how to locate a LPI-certified specialist in your area. For information about third-party inspection and certification services for Lightning Protection Systems, visit www.lpi-ip.com or view this infographic for highlights of the LPI-IP services.
SOURCE Lightning Protection Institute
Tending to the Trees: An Earth Day reminder that lightning protection helps keep trees healthy & green!
“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
Even if you aren’t a full-fledged tree-hugger, you probably know that lightning is nature’s most frequent peril and hence a tree’s most-feared 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 the common weather hazard. 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 phloem (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 tree components 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.
In honor of Earth Day 2018, LPI is re-posting these 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 NFPA 780 Safety Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems) is the same concept that protects 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. Most trees succumb 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). Typically, property 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 in the spirit of Earth Day 2018, “let’s get planting!” And, if you want to keep your trees healthy for years to come, don’t forget the lightning protection. Think of your lightning protection system as the hug that keeps on giving, to keep your tree “green” and living!
Lightning Protection Inspection Program Expands Services to Meet Industry Needs for Quality Control and Service
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill – April 9, 2018 – Increased education about lightning losses and the availability of safety standard-compliant lightning protection is furthering an understanding of best practices for lightning protection system (LPS) design, installation and inspection. Recognizing a need for more stringent emphasis on quality control, the Lightning Protection Institute Inspection Program (LPI-IP), is expanding its services for third-party lightning protection review and certification.
“LPI-IP is the only third-party certifying organization that verifies lightning protection system completeness, proper materials and methods, code compliance, and notification for future assessments; including needed repairs or maintenance,” said Tim Harger, LPI-IP program manager. “Ensuring lightning protection compliance to national safety standards and project specifications is an essential part of quality control for construction managers, property owners and building occupants—reasons why LPI-IP’s services are increasingly in demand in the marketplace,” explained Harger.
To accommodate construction market and consumer needs, the program now offers four service options: Master Installation Certificate Inspection, Extended Master Installation Certificate Inspection, Reconditioned Master Installation Certificate Inspection and Limited Scope Inspection. All options provide cost-effective inspection services to ensure LPS compliance with national safety standards.
“Knowing where to turn for up-to-date and accurate information about lightning protection can be difficult,” said Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). “By incorporating checkpoints, reviews and inspections, the LPI-IP certification program is ensuring safety and peace of mind to building owners throughout the U.S.”
The construction market appears to be increasingly relying on LPI-IP for lightning protection inspection services—the program has seen a 300% growth rate since its beginnings in 2011 and a 44% increase in users in 2017.
Key features of the LPI-IP Inspection Program include:
- A three-year expiration date which complements the NFPA 780 three-year code review cycle and process to keep pace with technology.
- Services applicable for a wide-range of inspection needs; including commercial, industrial, military, medical, educational and residential projects.
- LPI-IP inspections are accepted in MasterSpec as a quality control inspection option for lightning protection systems.
- Design review by a professional engineer, documentation of concealed components and verification of grounding and NRTL* field inspection of rooftop lightning protection.
- Users are offered the option of Standard specific inspections (LPI175, NFPA 780 and/or UL96A), and extended certification covering Military specifications to accommodate market needs and a wider range of projects.
For safety and quality assurance, LPI-IP provides certification for lightning protection which complies with U.S. nationally-recognized safety standards, only.
For additional information about lightning protection and lightning safety, visit the Lightning Protection Institute website at http://www.lightning.org
*Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory
During the first week of March, the United Lightning Protection Association (ULPA) and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) hosted its 86th annual conference in Singer Island, FL. Lightning protection professionals from various states across the country came together for three days of professional development, continuing education and networking. The gathering of industry members and experts—from product manufacturers and system installers—to scientists and code authorities, explored a wide range of lightning protection topics. For those of you who were unable to attend the 2018 ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference, I’ve compiled five takeaways that sparked conversation and interaction. For those of you who were there, here’s a chance to relive some of the enlightening highlights.
1. Compliance matters in all matters of LPS
Compliance is not an option for safety, and lightning protection system (LPS) materials, methods and installations need to comply with the NFPA 780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems. 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. NFPA 780 serves as the basis for LPI-175 Standard of Practice for the Design-Installation-Inspection of Lightning Protection Systems, which is commonly used by LPI-certified designers and installers. The standard addresses LPS installation requirements for structures, watercraft, wind turbines, industrial stacks and other special occupancies and construction in the marketplace. New information and sections are added to NFPA 780 in conjunction with a three-year review process.
“The standard is yours, so help make it better,” urged conference presenter, Christine Porter, chair of the NFPA Technical Committee on Lightning Protection.
For industry members who want to be part of the NFPA review process, the First Draft Reports for Standards in the Annual 2019 revision cycle are available for review and public comments.
2. Data applications have changed in recent years and the SPD market is evolving to keep pace
Applications for surge protective devices (SPDs) have very different individual prerequisites for the systems they are designed to protect. Unfortunately, that can be problematic in an era where technology and building systems are rapidly changing. Lightning can initiate a domino effect path of transient overvoltage which can disrupt, degrade and damage multiple electronic systems and connected equipment, making the correct application for SPDs an essential component of the LPS network. If you attended the conference workshop presented by Greg Martinjak with Erico/Pentair, you likely learned about applications for “Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4 and Type 5” SPDs and surge suppressors. But, if you missed the conference or Martinjak’s presentation and want to learn more about the intended use for SPDs for LPS in compliance with UL 96A, here’s a link you’ll want to check-out.
3. The lightning problem related to CSST has not been solved
While safety standard compliant LPS provides proven and effective protection against a leading weather threat, continued litigation and unknowns about CSST (a flexible gas piping found in millions of U.S. homes and commercial structures), are a concern for the industry and the public at large. Last spring, LPI advised its members to disclaim CSST in very clear terms in work proposals and documents, due to its lightning susceptibility problems and the lack of verification data. Concerned by refusals of CSST manufacturers to conduct or release findings of testing, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) recently commissioned its own testing to investigate potential safety impacts of typical household electrical current (120 volts) on CSST.
“We are praising NASFM for looking beyond the risk of CSST when lightning is present,” said Becky Teel, spokesperson for the Brennen Teel Foundation, and a presenter at the 2018 ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference. Teel shared that she and her husband Ken, created a Foundation in the name of their son, Brennen Chase Teel, who was 31 years old when he was killed on August 24, 2012 in a Lubbock, Texas home, where the installation, bonding and grounding of CSST was deemed “proper” according to the product manufacturer. Teel explained that Brennen died in an explosive fire as a result of the puncture of CSST—a failure that was lightning-induced. Since Brennen’s death, news outlets have continued to share incidents of similar failures that are occurring all over the country; threatening lives and property.
According to Teel, data collected in the NASFM lab testing has determined serious deficiencies with the so-called “new lightning-resistant” CSST and revealed that it is actually more susceptible to failure when it comes into direct contact with the electrical system or some other metallic object that has become energized. The new test results commissioned by NASFM of 120 volt household current testing on CSST and Black Iron Gas Piping can be viewed at http://cssttesting.org/.
4. Non-conventional LPS (still) isn’t backed by testing and science to validate performance
The need for LPS to comply with U.S. safety standards cannot be overstated. Products known in the marketplace as “Early Streamer Emission” (ESE) air terminals, “dissipation array systems” (DAS), charge transfer systems (CTS) do not comply with NFPA 780 and have been the subject of criticism by independent lightning experts and renowned meteorologists and scientists.
A panel of lightning experts, Dr. Bill Rison, Dr. Carlos Mata and Dr. Dustin Hill, led a conference presentation and discussion about disconnects between science and non-conventional lightning protection systems. One takeaway: “Science is a beautiful gift to humanity; we should not distort it.” A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. (Let’s listen to the scientists!)
The Scientific Committee of the International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) has posted advisements “against production, marketing and use of such systems before their claimed effects have been verified and the results generally agreed upon by the international scientific community.” ICLP has also posted scientific papers and opinions for review on the topic on the ILDC website.
5. The LPS industry is stronger than ever
Allow me to cite a few reasons:
* The expansion and growth of the LPI-IP inspection and certification program (300% growth rate since its beginnings in 2011 and a 44% increase in user base in 2017), which continues to meet industry needs for LPS quality control and service.
* The construction market, consumers and partner organizations are increasingly relying on LPI as the go-to resource for the most accurate and up-to-date information about lightning protection and safety standard compliant system requirements.
* Promethean ideas like the “LPU” (check it out!), seek to “educate students on the concepts of lightning protection systems and introduce them to a career path in the lightning protection industry.”
* Interested and engaged industry professionals are attending the annual ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference to receive LPS continuing education and engage in peer collaboration. This yearly exchange helps spark innovative ideas and furthers support for new technology, safety messaging and increased education.
If you’re a LPS professional or just a lightning bug making plans for the future, you’ll want to make sure you plan to attend the ULPA/LPI Lightning Protection Conference in Atlanta next year. So, stay tuned for upcoming details and information!
March 2018 marks the fourth anniversary of the NOAA Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassador initiative launch and its effort to recognize community partners working to improving the nation’s “readiness, responsiveness and overall resilience against extreme weather, water and climate events.” The WRN initiative asks its Ambassadors to assist in minimizing the effects of natural disasters by taking the following actions:
* Promote WRN messages and themes to stakeholders
* Engage with NOAA personnel on potential collaboration opportunities
* Share success stories of preparedness and resiliency
* Serve as an example by educating re: preparedness
* Serve as a “change agent and leader” in the community
As a WRN Ambassador, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is committed to improving resilience against the lightning threat—often underrated among other severe weather concerns. Unlike other weather perils, lightning knows few geographic boundaries and is a leading storm-related hazard responsible for unnecessary deaths, debilitating injuries and an excess of preventable property losses. LPI’s recent efforts to help build lightning safe communities in the U.S. include:
- Supporting more insurance incentives for safety-standard-compliant lightning protection systems (LPS).
- Working to increase recognition of code and safety standard-compliant LPS.
- Encouraging expanded risk assessment measures for the lightning hazard in the building development process.
- Sharing “Building Lightning Safe Communities” initiative resources to improve safety for people, places and property.
Once again, LPI will heed the WRN call to action at next week’s 86th Annual Lightning Protection Conference in Singer Island, FL, where industry members will participate in education programs, scientific presentations, workshops and collaboration sessions designed to enlighten participants about various aspects of the lightning hazard. Attendees will also learn how LPI’s “Building Lightning Safe Communities” initiative is making a difference to improve lightning safety and reduce lightning losses in communities across the nation.
So, let’s get ready to be a force of nature in Singer Island and don our WRN Ambassador hats to listen and learn more about the lightning risk. Then, let’s take risk prevention a step further by serving as ambassadors to share enlightenment and help build lightning safe communities in our own cities and towns for 2018 and beyond!