What Do I Do If Lightning Strikes My Home?
As we enter June, summer storms and lightning strikes will become more frequent. June, July, and August account for the most lightning strikes every year. North Carolina ranks 3rd in lightning fatalities in the United States over the last 50 years.
Approximately 600,000 homes are struck by lightning every year. In 2014 there were about 100,000 lightning related homeowner’s insurance claims, accounting for around $740 million dollars.
When lightning strikes a home, it can potentially do an excessive amount of damage beyond the imminent threat of fire. Parts of your home susceptible to lightning damage include:
- Phones, internet modems, and routers
- Electronics plugged into wall outlets: computers, televisions, video game systems, etc.
- Appliances: washing machines, dishwashers, dryers, electric water heaters, etc.
- HVAC systems
- Wiring inside the walls of your home
What do you do if your home is struck by lightning? Below are four steps to take in the event your home is struck by lightning:
1) If You Smell Smoke, Evacuate and Call 911
Fire may not start at the point where lightning strikes. As it passes through your house, it can lead to fire anywhere from your roof, to your basement, to the wiring inside your walls. If you smell smoke or see fire, evacuate your home and call 911.
If emergency officials do come to your home, make sure you obtain copies of all of their reports.
2) Familiarize Yourself With Homeowners Insurance Policies
Read and know the details of your homeowners insurance policies regarding lightning strikes and fire damage. Make sure you keep detailed reports, photos, and records of all damage incurred.
3) Contact Homeowners Insurance Agent
Even though you may not yet know the extent of the damage, do not hesitate to contact your homeowners insurance agent. Update them often regarding any new damage discovered. It could take weeks to know for sure how much damage the lightning has caused.
4) Assess and Document all Damage
Assessing damage could be an ongoing process over the next month following a lightning strike. As soon as it is safe begin inspecting your home for signs of damage:
- Check outlets for signs of burning.
- Check and test electronics: Televisions, computers, video-game systems, thermostat, etc.
- Check and test appliances: washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, water heater, etc.
- Check circuit breaker for blown fuses. Pay attention to sudden changes in the behavior of your system, such as frequently tripping breakers
- Check HVAC system and pay attention to any changes in behavior of your air conditioning
Document any damage and take photographs. Some systems may not show signs of damage for several days or weeks, so be alert for any changes in the behavior of your electrical systems.
If your house is struck buy lightning, contact a trusted, licensed local electrician who will investigate damages thoroughly and is capable of making any necessary repairs.