Lightning Safety: Florida #1 for lightning strikes

This week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 19-25), and by reading this, you are now officially aware.  In the darkness of last evening, the light show created by bolts jaggedly dropping from clouds around Tampa Bay was illuminating in more ways than one – magnificent and scary at the same time.

Hurricane season=rainy season=lightning season. With more than 90 percent of Florida experiencing drought-like conditions, we could certainly use some rain – and when it comes pouring down, don’t let lightning myths steer you wrong.

If you can hear thunder, a storm is close enough for you to start heading for indoor cover. The National Weather Service says there is no safe place outdoors in a lightning storm. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says: When thunder roars, go indoors. Finishing up the back nine on the golf course despite the thunder overhead is as dangerous as it gets. Ranks right up there with trying to ride out a storm from under a tree. If you can’t find cover, the thing to do is get low. Lighting likes an easy target and tall buildings are hit repeatedly. Yes, lightning strikes the same place more than once.

We have a Lightning Alley in Florida. It runs through the central part of the state, roughly from Tampa to Titusville. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, a division of NOAA, central Florida has the nation’s highest frequency of cloud-to-ground lightning. Your property insurance policy covers damage from lightning. An analysis conducted by the Insurance Information Institute puts the average lightning claim at $4,846. The average cost per claim rose by 13 percent between 2009 and 2010, due mainly to the higher costs of the technological products we have in our homes. You may have a surge protector on your TV and computer, and it might not be adequate to protect your electronics from a lightning strike. The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) recommends investing in a lightning protection system for your home and business. Check out this podcast: How to Pick a Lightning Protection System. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety also has tips on reducing your lightning risk.

About lynnem

Our blogger, Lynne McChristian, is the Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute and is based in Tampa.
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