When preparing for storms and natural occurrences that can cause damage in Florida, thunderstorms and lightning may not be the first things that come to mind. However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida leads the nation in number of lightning deaths. If you live here, you are at risk.
- Every thunderstorm produces lightning.
- Lightning can spark wildfires.
- Lightning is unpredictable, putting both people and property at risk.
- For every five seconds you count between seeing lightning and hearing thunder, the lightning flash is one mile away.
- Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain, even up to 10 miles away.
- Rubber-soled shoes or tires offer no protection. A steel-top car can offer increased protection as long as you are not touching metal; however, cars with plastic or fiberglass shells will not.
- Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly.
Take Precautions Before a Thunderstorm
- Trim trees to prevent damage or injury in a thunderstorm.
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Bring yard and outdoor items in if they could be picked up by the wind.
- Unplug electronic equipment.
- If you hear thunder, lightning could be close enough to strike you and you should move to safe shelter.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch versus Severe Thunderstorm Warning
A severe thunderstorm watch indicates conditions are favorable for a thunderstorm. Continue to listen or watch for weather updates.
A severe thunderstorm warning means that a thunderstorm has been reported and poses danger to life and property. You should take precautions and find shelter immediately.
If you are in your home or in a building during the storm, do not stand near windows and avoid anything conducting a path that leads outside, such as electrical appliances, plumbing, and TV cables.
After a Storm
Wait at least 30 minutes after seeing the last lightning flash before going outside. Half of all lightning fatalities occur after a thunderstorm has passed.
If Lightning Strikes Your Home
If your home has been struck by lightning, you will hear a loud boom and feel the house shake. Some newer homes are built to absorb lightning strikes.
- The Hidden Danger. After a lightning strike, fires can occur inside walls or attic spaces. Contact your fire department immediately, regardless if you smell smoke or see fire.
- Volts of Electricity. While the average home uses around 220 volts of electricity, a lightning strike is tens of millions volts. Most homes are built with surge protection per national standards. Power surge strips can help protect appliances and technology.
- Electrical Diagnosis. Schedule a diagnosis with a qualified electrical company.
If you have experienced damage to your home, contact your homeowners insurance as soon as possible to report the damage.