Lightning can be a deadly and costly force of nature. Each year, lightning is responsible for tragic deaths, devastating injuries and costly property damage.
Lightning strikes the United States around 25 million times each year. In the first quarter of 2017, severe thunderstorms and inclement weather were responsible for a record $5.7 billion in insured losses in the U.S. In 2016, there were 38 lightning deaths in the United States, compared with 26 in 2015 according to the National Weather Service.
Protecting your property
Lightning and surge-related over voltages are the leading cause of damage and downtime for solar equipment like combiner boxes, inverters and data lines. Lightning can be risky for all types of businesses without proper grounding provided by a safety standard compliant lighting protection system. Telecommunications, antennas, electronics, generators and interconnected systems can be vulnerable to lighting and can ultimately be a costly loss. For structures with state-of-the-art hardware, internal circuity, critical systems, smart structures, server farms and data centers the cost-benefits of lightning protection can’t be overstated.
Structural fires are dangerous too and often result from a direct lightning strike or because the lightning electricity has surged through the building’s wiring. A single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200kA of electrical energy making the threat of fire very real.
Some property policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike, which can cause severe damage to appliances, electronics, computers and equipment, phone systems, electrical fixtures and the electrical foundation of a business.
To be sure your insurance coverage is sufficient; contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency risk consultant.
Protecting your people
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors
There are no safe places outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you can hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm.
Tips for avoiding the threat of being struck by lightning:
- Cancel or postpone activities early if thunder storms are expected.
- Monitor weather conditions and get to a safe place if lightning is sited. Go into a building or hard-topped vehicles for safety.
- Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or thunder has passed. Do not go outside too soon after you think a storm has passed.
- Do not touch anything that is plugged into an electrical outlet or plumbing.
- Stay away from outside doors and window.
If someone is struck by lightning:
- Move the victim to a safe shelter, indoors, if possible.
- Call 911 and monitor the victim until emergency help has arrived.
- Start CPR or use an Automated External Defibrillator if needed.
The human body does not store electricity, so it is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to administer first aid.
National Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 24-30. Promote awareness among employees and family members. For more information about safety precautions to take or for training for your employees, contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency loss control representative for assistance.