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When Thunder Roars, Be Safe Indoors
Almost everyone knows that you’re not safe outside in a thunderstorm. Due to lightning safety efforts, most schoolchildren have this National Weather Service motto drilled into them: “When thunder roars, go indoors.” What safety efforts haven’t been so clear about are the dangers that persist inside during a storm.
Many of us love to relax and unwind during a thunderstorm. We might catch up on some TV, chat with friends on the computer or phone, kick back in the bathtub, or read a book by the window. All these activities, however, further our risk of being harmed by a lightning strike. They increase our risk of sustaining either personal injury or property damage, or both. Lightning can travel through electrical cords, metal plumbing, and even through windows and doorways to injure us and damage our property.
Is storm damage covered by home insurance?
While standard homeowners insurance typically covers damage caused by lightning, including fire, you should note that some carriers don’t cover damage from the power surges that are the direct results of lightning strikes. These surges cause the most damage to expensive personal appliances such as TVs, computers, phones, and gaming systems, and they could cost you if you aren’t careful.
More than 213,000 homeowners filed insurance claims for lightning damage in 2012, with an average payout of $4,846 per claim. Both the number of claims and their average payout have risen steadily in the last few years, probably because homeowners have more and more expensive personal electronics and appliances.
Make sure you know what is covered by your homeowners insurance so that you take proper precaution before and during storms. If surge damage is not covered, you could lose money. Even if it is, you should take extra precautions to prevent injury and damage.
Following are some recommendations for avoiding lightning damage:Install a lightning protection system in your home: This consists of a lightning rod or air terminals at the top of the building with wires running down to grounding rods at its base. The system safely dissipates the energy of a lightning strike. Use surge protectors: UL-listed surge protectors prevent electrical fires and protect against electrical discharges. You can use a surge arrestor to control the main electrical input and output for the building or a surge suppressor for individual appliances. Unplug expensive equipment during a storm: This includes TVs and computers.
It may be inconvenient to comply with these lightning safety precautions, but in addition to ensuring your safety, they lower your risk of property damage and could make you eligible for lower homeowners insurance premiums (as with many home protection systems – check with your provider). In addition, extra safety measures can help avoid claims from personal injury sustained from electrical surge through products on your property.
In any case, use common sense when it comes to lightning safety, and it could save you and your wallet from injury.