Safeguarding Structures from Lightning Damage
Lightning associated with severe thunderstorms threatens lives and damages buildings and community infrastructures. Lightning strikes can cause surge damage to electrical systems and devices, even starting fires. A professional should install surge protection for the home's electrical systems and electronic devices, as well as lightning protection for the structure itself.
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More than one billion dollars in damage to homes and businesses is caused by lightning annually. Surge suppressors and arresters alone don't fully protect home and property. A structural lightning rod and grounding system are an effective means of protection. Contrary to common belief, lightning rods do not attract lightning, but rather safely carry a strike to the ground when one hits. Tall trees do not keep lightning away from a home. It can side-flash from a tree into a home or business as it seeks the least resistant path to the ground.
Today every home and business has more electronic equipment hooked up than in previous decades. Lightning is attracted by larger electrical use needed with increased tech savvy equipment. A single lightning rod or air terminal no longer provides adequate protection for a structure against a lightning strike. Improper installation of even the correct equipment can cause dangerous and serious consequences when lightning hits a structure.
Certain areas of the U.S. are more prone to air to ground lightning strikes. Homes and businesses anywhere, but especially in these areas must have the proper safety installations to keep residents and belongings secure. Air terminals secured to a cable should run along the apex of the roof. If the structure has a chimney, air terminals and cable must be connected to the top of the chimney as well. Cable connections can be run down to any gables in the structure. Then the cable runs along the wall to a ground terminal. Cable fasteners secure these cables to the walls. Several grounded cables are needed to insure complete home coverage. Lastly there should be a cable connected to the main water pipe.
Newly constructed homes usually come complete with the most technologically-advanced lightning protection systems. Existing properties often need to upgrade their protection against lightning. It is wise to retrofit older homes that may not have adequate safety equipment. This protects the valued lives of family members and property within.
When choosing a company to retrofit one's home their installation awareness and quality of service should meet local industry standards for a preferred contractor. The lightning protection and earth-termination products used must both protect the building from electronics destruction from a lightning strike and nullify the associated risk of fire. Different diameters and materials-round wires, strips and cables-for lightning protection and earth-termination are required depending on the needs of the structure. Isolated lightning protection devices, such as self-supporting air termination rods, glass fiber reinforced plastic (GRP) components and telescopic lightning masts provide separation distance for grounds from a variety of areas. Different conductor systems are required for flat roofs, metal roofs, ridge tiles, hip tiles and other roof surfaces in order to affix round and flat conductors to the roof and façade.
Reinforcing components for foundation earth electrodes bond the equipment on the house to the ground. Connecting clamps are provided for installing single earth electrodes to earth rods completing the system for home lightning protection. Special equipment will be used to straighten round and flat conductors and to test earth-termination resistance meters. Insulation and corrosion protection materials are used at clamping points and soil connections. Air-termination tips and rods, concrete mounting bases, fixed clamps and brackets protect protruding superstructures of the roof from direct lightning strikes.
Once the home's lightning protection has been completed, there are still some protective measures that the inhabitants can take. It is recommended that family members avoid using the telephone, stay away from windows and metal piping, turn off the television and move away from it. Individuals shouldn't use sinks or tubs, radiators or stoves to keep away from metal pipes. If outdoors, one should avoid pools, beaches, lakes or open water during thunder storms. Never shelter beneath a tree or ride a golf cart on the course. People need to stay clear of areas where they will be the highest object. The recommendation is that they drop to their knees, bend forward and crouch down with their hands on their knees.
Every structure can be made safe from lightning damage by taking all of the above preparations and precautions. Then one's family members and belongings will be safeguarded when lightning strikes.