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Lightning Safety Awareness Week: Keep yourself and your property safe
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Lightning Safety Awareness Week: Keep yourself and your property safe

RICHMOND—With lightning five times hotter than the surface of the sun and reaching temperatures of 50,000°, the effects of a lightning strike can be devastating.

That’s why the National Lightning Safety Council is sharing information on how to stay safe during thunderstorms and lightning events during National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 23-29.

“Lightning is the weather threat that affects most people, most of the time, in most regions of the U.S.,” said Kimberly Loehr, a lightning protection specialist and NLSC member. “Although approximately 90% of lightning victims survive being struck, injuries can be severe and debilitating.”

The NLSC warns that no place outside is safe during a thunderstorm, and June, July and August are peak months for lightning activity across the U.S. This time of year also is peak time for outside summer fun, and almost two-thirds of lightning deaths from 2006-2023 occurred when people were enjoying outdoor activities.

To help keep yourself safe both outside and indoors, take the following precautions:
 

  • If you hear thunder, quickly get to a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle.
  • Avoid open areas, and don’t be the tallest object.
  • Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers, utility poles and metal conductors like wires or fences.
  • When with a group of people, spread out.
  • Avoid contact with water, plumbing and anything plugged into an electrical outlet.
  • Stay away from outside doors and windows.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder before returning outside.


Additionally, lightning is a leading cause of property loss in the U.S. The Insurance Information Institute reported there were over 62,000 lightning claims in 2022, totaling $950 million. Virginia ranked in the top 10 states for homeowners insurance lightning loss claims.

“In our experience handling lightning-related claims, the one thing we see is the damage is always catastrophic,” said James Walker, senior claims investigator for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “From causing fires in structures to destroying electrical systems and electronic equipment, the effects of lightning are costly.”

Lightning can strike directly or strike nearby structures and travel underground into phone, cable and electrical lines. To protect houses, property and the people inside, homeowners can have lightning protection systems professionally installed to ground and dissipate lightning’s electrical discharge.

“Lightning just wants to get to the ground, and a safety standard-compliant lightning protection system helps it get there without harmful impact to the structure, contents or building systems,” Loehr said.

For more information on lightning facts and safety, visit lightningsafetycouncil.org. To learn about lighting protection systems, visit the Lighting Protection Institute at lightning.org/technical/#how-system-works.

Media: Contact Loehr at 804-314-8955 or Alice Kemp, Virginia Farm Bureau communications, at 804-418-0865.

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