Lightning: A foe of life and property

Lightning: A foe of life and property

July 3

Lightning is a deadly and destructive force of nature that must be taken seriously, especially during July according to a recently released study by the National Weather Service. The study also revealed some other interesting data about the 238 lightning-related deaths in the United States from 2006 to 2012.

July was the month with the most deaths due to lightning strikes, followed by June and August. About 70 percent of lightning related deaths occurred during these three months. This fact should not come as a surprise since 64 percent of lightning deaths happened during leisure activities that typically take place during the summer months when thunderstorms are more likely to occur. Keeping in line with this theme, Saturday and Sunday were the deadliest days of the week.

The top five activities with the most lightning fatalities were recreational fishing (26), camping (15), boating (14), soccer (12) deaths and golf (8).  Seventeen percent of lightning-related deaths occurred during daily routine activities, 13 percent during work activities and 6 percent of deaths classified as unknown.

Another stat that should catch the attention of at least half of the population is that males accounted for 82 percent of lightning fatalities. Also, it should be pointed out that not all lightning deaths occur in the great outdoors.

The National Weather Service’s Lightning Safety page provides great tips for steps to take when lightning is in the area. But if you only want the nitty-gritty: “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

Before switching to property damage, it must be noted that lightning strikes can indirectly lead to other deadly situations, such as fires. Sadly, an example of this occurred on June 30 when 19 brave men lost their lives fighting an Arizona wildfire started by lightning.

Property Damage

On the property side of things, lightning causes serious damage. In 2011, nearly $1 billion of damage was due to lightning according to a study by the Insurance Information Institute. Lightning can fry electrical equipment such as TVs and computers, start fires and destroy property. On a personal level, my in-laws’ brick chimney was blown apart by a bolt of lightning, which also rendered their TVs and DVRs unrepairable.

In a disastersafety.org blog post Julie Rochman, Institute for Business and Home Safety president & CEO  was quoted, “Lightning strikes are one of the major sources of external power surges that can severely damage electronic equipment and cause fires – either of which can be a huge disruption to a family or business. Fortunately, relatively simple, inexpensive steps can be taken to substantially reduce the chances of lightning-related destruction and interruptions.”

Great tips for protecting property from lightning strikes can be found here. And if from an IT perspective you want to backup up your data in case lightning or another disaster knocks out your computer or network, we suggest you have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place that relies on at least part of the StorageCraft Recover-Ability Solution (… a shameless plug, I know.)

In conclusion, lightning’s threat to life and property is real, and we should all take steps necessary to protect ourselves and property.