Prepare your home for thunderstorms, lightning

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

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

Every thunderstorm produces lightning, according to the National Weather Service. A whole-house or building-surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of lightning damage, according to IBHS. They should be used along with localized surge protectors for power cords of electronic equipment and any telephone and cable or satellite TV lines.

Make sure you can distinguish 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 will not protect equipment from electrical damage. A surge protector gives the ability to plug in multiple electronic devices and also protects those devices from a power spike.

IBHS cautions using an inexpensive surge protector to protect a $1,000 piece of equipment. For $25 or more, you can provide much better protection. It’s also a good idea to ensure the surge protector has been tested to UL 1449 and has an indicator light to ensure it’s working.

A licensed electrician or home or building inspector should review the power, telephone, electrical and TV connections to your home to make sure you have adequate grounding of the power line connection and your power distribution panel.

Additional tips are available at the IBHS website: 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 Chester County, S.C. The facility was created to significantly advance building science by enabling researchers to more fully and accurately evaluate various residential and commercial construction materials and systems.

“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 first-hand the testing and research they perform at their facility.”

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