Homes at Risk to Fires Sparked By Lightning
Your home should be a safe haven. But even the most safety-conscious homeowner may not have considered a risk that affects thousands of homeowners each year. During the four-year period from 2002 to 2005, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated that U.S. fire departments responded annually to roughly 31,400 fires started by lightning. These fires caused an estimated $213 million in direct property damage each year, based on data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System and the NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey. Despite these staggering statistics, lightning is often overlooked as a specific peril, even though substantial claims and great devastation result from it. What’s unique about lightning is that it doesn’t discriminate according to the region of the country — most areas are susceptible to lightning strikes. Since lightning strikes more than 250,000 times per year and the vast majority of homes in the U.S. do not have lightning protection systems, there is a real potential for danger and destruction.
For homeowners who don’t want to take a chance with lightning, a professionally installed lightning protection system is a viable idea. A lightning protection system provides a low resistance path to safely intercept lightning’s dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants. The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) is a not-for-profit nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. When considering lightning protection, the LPI stresses the importance of consumers contracting with qualified and experienced UL-listed and LPI-certified specialists who are trained to install systems in accordance with the nationally recognized safety standards of UL, NFPA and LPI.
“Homeowners need to be aware that installation of a system is not a do-it-yourself project,” says Bud VanSickle, executive director for LPI. “It’s important to have an experienced professional install the lightning protection system, since improper installation can lead to serious consequences — and may be worse than having no protection at all.”
The LPI certifies individuals through a Master Installer testing program to maximize safety through education and offers a database list of certified contractors on its web site. For a list of certified contractors and other information about national safety standards for lightning protection installation, visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org.
From October 5-11, 2008, lightning safety advocates will support the “It’s Fire Prevention Week, Prevent Home Fires” campaign, sponsored by the NFPA. More information about the campaign can be found at www.firepreventionweek.org.
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SOURCE: Lightning Protection Institute