While hurricanes make the headlines more often during the summer and fall, the South Carolina-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Research Center cautions homeowners not to underestimate the destructive and deadly force of thunderstorms and lightning. Such storms occur far more often and directly affect more people and homes in the United States than hurricanes. And, according to the National Weather Service, every thunderstorm produces lightning. The IBHS says a whole-house or -building surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of lightning damage, along with localized surge protectors for power cords of electronic equipment and any telephone and cable or satellite television lines. A licensed electrician or competent home or building inspector should review the power, telephone, electrical and TV connections to your home to make sure you have adequate grounding of the power line connection and your power distribution panel. Here are additional IBHS tips for protecting your home against storm damage. Many apply to businesses as well. Prepare your surroundings to reduce damage • Limit possible sources of windborne debris by surveying your property before a storm. • Replace gravel or rock landscaping materials with softer material such as mulch. • Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures, and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures. • Remove yard objects, including lawn furniture, planters, bird feeders and decorative objects to prevent them from becoming flying missiles. Protect your home’s openings • Protect all openings from high wind or flying debris damage. Attention should be given to all windows, entry doors, sliding glass doors and garage doors. • If your garage door doesn’t have a pressure rating sticker, have it evaluated and, if necessary, have a garage door bracing system installed to prevent wind from blowing in the door. • Seal openings, cracks and holes on the outside of your home. Fill holes where wires, cables and pipes enter and exit the home, and seal around electrical boxes and circuit breaker panels. Seal cracks around wall outlets, dryer vents, bathroom and kitchen vents and wall lights. Strengthen your roof; make sure your home is tied together • Make sure your roof sheathing is strongly fastened to the roof frame. • Seal the roof deck to minimize water getting into your attic if the roof cover is blown off. • Re-attach loose shingles with roofing cement to prevent them from blowing off and exposing your roof decking to wind-driven water. • If you have vinyl or aluminum soffit covers, strengthen their attachment to the walls and fascia. • Create a continuous load path in your home, which means tying the roof to the walls and the walls to the foundation using metal connectors such as hurricane straps, clips or ties.