September is National Preparedness Month and Time to Get Storm Smart about Lightning!
September 10, 2014 — September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and the perfect time to sharpen your storm survival skills. Knowing what to do before the storm hits is often the most important step you can take in protecting your family, property and community.
The fall months are typically prime time for weather disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms. Since tornadoes are spawned by thunderstorms, they are often accompanied by intense lightning that can strike before, during and/or after a tornado passes. While lightning is not a normal occurrence in hurricanes, thunderstorms have been known to occur in the areas of highest vertical convection within the hurricane eye wall. Temperature swings that create extreme differences between cold and warm air can create especially severe thunderstorms in the autumn months. In turn, these storms can pose significant problems for homeowners in terms of heavy winds, downed trees, electrical surges and lightning fires.
Irrigation systems and security systems, invisible pet fences, computers and sensitive home electronics and generators are home amenities that can be especially vulnerable to lightning. An indirect or secondary lightning strike to a nearby tree or power line can also induce unwanted surges into a home. A direct lightning strike can carry over 100 million volts of electricity and generate heat in excess of 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit which can rip through roofs, explode brick and concrete, and ignite fires.
The best way to prepare your home from lightning is to have a lightning protection system professionally installed. A properly installed lightning protection system will dissipate the dangerous electrical charge, taking it safely to ground, keeping the home and its occupants unharmed.
Lightning protection systems dissipate lightning’s harmful electricity through the following:
• strike termination network (rods or air terminals on the roof)
• down conductor network (cables or downleads)
• grounding electrode network (ground rods, ground ring or ground plates)
• equipotential bonding network (joining of components to ensure conductivity)
• surge protection (SPD’s installed at electrical panels and in-house electronics)
As always, LPI stresses the importance of contracting with a qualified LPI-certified and UL-listed lightning protection specialist to ensure that materials and methods of installation comply with recognized safety standards of LPI-175, NFPA 780 and UL 96A. Lightning protection installation is not a “do-it-yourself” project, so homeowners should never attempt to do this work themselves. Improper installation can lead to dangerous consequences.
Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of lightning protection once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” National Preparedness Month is a good time to examine your “prevention” checklist to best prepare your family, home and property for natural disasters; especially lightning–the weather hazard experienced by most people most of the time in the U.S.
Information about National Preparedness Month and the “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare” campaign is available at http://www.ready.gov/september