October 4, 2012
Fire Prevention Week and Lightning
The week of October 7-13 is National Fire Prevention Week. The week serves as a good reminder to review safety procedures around the home and to make sure that all fire prevention and detection equipment is powered and operating properly. It's also important to note that lightning causes many fires each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2004 to 2008, lightning was responsible for about 25,000 fires each year. On average, about 4,400 of the fires were home fires, with another 1,800 non-home structure fires. Those fires also caused an average of about 12 indirect lightning deaths per year.
Here are some recommendations in case your home is struck by lightning:
- Evacuate your home immediately if you see fire or smoke and call 911
- Call your local fire department and, if possible, have them check for hot spots in your walls with thermal imaging equipment
- Make sure all smoke detectors are powered and operating properly
- If needed, have a licensed electrician check the wiring in your home
While fires are a major concern, lightning also causes considerable damage to electrical and electronic systems and equipment. The Insurance Information Institute documents claims for losses due to lightning and logged an average of about 200,000 claims per year over the past five years. Each claim averaged about $5,000. In terms of overall losses, this accounts for about $1 billion in damage each year.
To protect your home, you may wish to contact a certified lightning protection specialist for a home lightning protection system survey.
Please check out our Protect Your Home and Family handout for links to additional information.
Lightning Safety Specialist
National Weather Service, NOAA
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