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Prepare your home for thunderstorms, lightning

Hurricanes often make more headlines during the summer and fall, but the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety cautions homeowners to not underestimate the destructive and deadly force of thunderstorms.

Such storms occur far more often and directly affect more people and homes in the U.S. than hurricanes.

According to IBHS, a whole-house or -building surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of lightning damage, along with localized surge protectors for power cords of electronic equipment and any telephone and cable or satellite television lines.

Be sure you know the difference between a surge protector and a power strip. A power strip plugs into a wall outlet and allows you to plug in multiple electronic devices. It won’t protect equipment from damage by a power surge. A surge protector affords the ability to plug in multiple devices and also protects them against surges during a storm.

IBHS cautions against using an inexpensive surge protector—$10 or less—especially to protect expensive equipment. It’s a good idea to ensure a surge protector has been tested to UL 1449 and has an indicator light so you know it’s working.

A licensed electrician or home inspector can review power, telephone, electrical and television connections in your home to make sure the power line connection and your power distribution panel are adequately grounded.

Additional tips are available on the IBHS website at disastersafety.org.

Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. is among the founding organizations of IBHS, which operates a state-of-the-art, multi-risk applied research and training facility in South Carolina.

The facility was created to advance building science by enabling researchers to more accurately evaluate residential and commercial construction materials and systems. Researchers at the center can simulate CAT-3 hurricane winds, hailstorms and wildfires, and their findings are used to improve structural components of buildings to make them less susceptible to storm and fire damage.

“We want to help protect our customers and keep our insurance costs down,” said Sam Rooks, VFBMIC vice president of underwriting and policy services. “We regularly review the research that comes out of the IBHS facility and have visited the research center to view firsthand the testing and research they perform.”