Florida isn’t as sunshiney as its nickname, the ‘Sunshine State’, suggests. The state sees over 3,000 cloud-to-ground lightning flashes every day or nearly 1.2 million every year. In the United States, around 49 people die reportedly from lightning flashes each year, while others suffer life-long neurological effects such as chronic pain, confusion, and so on.
Unfortunately, unlike other risks that can be prevented (like fire, for instance), there’s no way to keep lightning from striking your house. It will still strike your house, so the best you can do is to make sure it causes as minimal destruction as possible.
It would be impossible to prevent a lightning strike, but there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your property. In this article, we’ll list down a few of the lightning safety tips from our professional property management agents.
What are the signs that lightning is going to strike?
Luckily, there are telltale signs that lightning is about to strike. During a thunderstorm, pay attention to your surroundings and brace yourself as soon as you feel that a cloud-to-ground flash is about to occur. Below are some of the signs that lightning is about to hit the ground:
#1 There are bright clouds during a storm
Typically, you wouldn’t be afraid of white or cumulonimbus clouds, but if you spot them during a storm, there’s a good chance that they’re carrying lightning. Take that as a sign to seek shelter. If you’re outdoors, go to the nearest building – the best place to be during a lightning strike is indoors.
#2 The hairs on your arms are standing
Some people are able to tell that lightning is about to strike because they feel a ‘static’ sensation throughout their bodies. This is because of the static energy that fills the air seconds before a bolt of lightning hits the ground.
#3 There’s a metallic taste in your mouth
Others know that lightning is going to strike as they taste a strong, metallic taste in their mouths. When this occurs, an electrical current is already starting to surge through your body, so be sure to find shelter as soon as possible.
#4 Metallic items start to vibrate or move
If you notice metallic items start to vibrate, move away from them immediately, as this is likely a signal of a lightning strike. You’ll notice the vibrations get more and more intense as the lightning inches closer. By this time, you should not be holding anything that could conduct electricity, otherwise, you will get electrocuted.
#5 The air smells like chlorine
You’re likely familiar with the chlorine-like smell after a storm. However, if you notice the smell during the storm while the downpour is still intense, there’s a likelihood that lightning is going to strike.
How can you protect your property against lightning?
According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, one in every 200 houses will get hit by lightning every year. If your property is in a thunderstorm-prone area such as South Florida, you’ll have to take the necessary steps to safeguard it from a lightning strike.
As a full-service property management company, we’ve been helping property owners (particularly out-of-state owners) protect their real estate assets with these tried and tested tips for over fifteen years. Apply these tips to your own property to keep your family safe from the risks of a lightning strike:
#1 Install a lightning rod
In case your house does get hit by lightning, you’ll want to be able to mitigate the damage. The best way to do that is by installing a lightning rod. This “redirects” the lightning so that it doesn’t strike your house’s structure, but instead, the rod. When the rob absorbs the electricity, it then releases it into the ground in a way that doesn’t damage the home.
Be prepared to spend anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000 to install a lightning rod. However, you can get this done at a more competitive rate by enlisting the services of a property management company that has ties with vetted vendors.
#2 Have a fire extinguisher at the ready
Remember that lightning bolts can reach temperatures of about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s five times hotter than the sun). With that said, a lightning strike will likely set your house on fire. It’s extremely important to have a fire extinguisher in the event of a fire and to contact the fire department immediately.
Warning: even if you think there’s no fire, you should still ask the fire department to come to your property. It is possible that the location of the fire simply isn’t obvious. It’s there, but it’s not visible… not yet, anyway.
#3 Unplug all of the appliances and electronics
Don’t be selective when it comes to processing your electricals and electronics. You should unplug everything, including the $50 stereo you got at a garage sale. If you don’t, your electronics will act as a “sponge” to the full power of the lightning, which is guaranteed to fry them. Even if you have a surge protector, if the lightning is so intense, it still won’t be enough.
#4 Be prepared for a power outage
If the National Weather Service has issued a warning of a serve storm, take that as a signal to start stocking up on candles, food, flashlights, and the like. A lightning strike will likely result in a power outage, which can take a week at max to fix. If possible, buy a generator so you can continue to benefit from the comforts of your heating and cooling system, appliances, etc.
#5 Get homeowner’s insurance
Be sure to invest in a homeowner’s insurance policy that covers fire- and lightning-related damage. Homeowners spend anywhere between $2,800 to $5,500 in dealing with the damage brought about by lightning. If you don’t want to pay for repairs out of pocket, make sure that your property is insured.
Do you have a disaster preparedness plan?
Whether you live in a simple single-family home or an estate, it’s important to create a disaster preparedness plan to protect your property from storms, hurricanes, lightning surges, and more. At Luxury Property Care, our experts are here to help you craft a tailor-made preparedness plan for your property. We’ll examine the kind of property you own, as well as the risks you’re exposed to, to make sure that your preparedness plan is fool-proof and safe to implement.