As a long-time Florida resident, I am very familiar with lightning. However, I was shocked (no pun intended) to return to my neighborhood recently to find five fire trucks parked in front of my neighbor’s two-story home. The thunderstorm I followed home from the beach apparently had wreaked havoc. Firefighters had hacked their way through the side of her house to get into the smoky attic where thick framing members were smoldering due to a lightning strike. They quickly doused the smoldering wood, and cut out the worst section to ensure it wouldn’t reignite. While my neighbor’s home was now safe from fire, she still had a lot of damage to her walls, roof, and 2nd floor interior. Fortunately, there are steps you can take toward avoiding my neighbor’s experience. First, you can have a Lightning Protection System installed. These systems provide a direct path for lightning to follow to the ground rather than through the house and its wiring. Of course, consult a qualified contractor for installation. Because a Lightning Protection System won’t protect your home from fire or electrical damage if lightning enters through the telephone, cable, or electrical lines, you should also install a Whole House Surge Protection device. Contact you local electric company for installation information. If they don’t offer the service, a qualified electrician can install the device at your electrical panel.

Credit: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH, Inc.

Homeowner Animated How-To: Lightning