Industry Experts Urge Caution in Hiring Contractors to Protect Homes
HARTFORD, Conn., Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the nation set to recognize Veteran's Day amid war coverage and news about security threats, a recent 9/11 Opinion Survey shows that Americans remain very concerned about a major terrorist attack happening in the United States. The survey also revealed that Americans are spending money to better protect themselves from natural hazards like lightning and hurricanes.
Against this backdrop, safety industry leaders are urging consumers to be cautious when hiring contractors to install home protection technologies such as lightning protection systems, generators and window and door reinforcements.
When it comes to spending money to better protect families and property from natural disasters, the survey showed the top steps taken were increasing insurance coverage (39%) and creating a family disaster plan (39%). Creating a disaster supply kit was the next most common step (34%).
When making homes more disaster-resistant, the survey indicated that investments in generators and lightning protection were the most frequent steps taken (23% and 22% respectively). Other investments included installation of window and door protection (11%) and the construction of safe rooms (11%).
"The good news in the 9/11 Opinion Survey is that more Americans are taking steps to protect themselves, their families and their property from natural hazards," said Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). "In light of this trend, it's incumbent on the safety industry to help consumers make educated choices about the systems they have installed on their properties."
As property owners consider investing in lightning protection to help prevent fires and damage to appliances and other equipment, VanSickle said consumers should be sure to contract with qualified and experienced specialists who are trained to install systems in accordance with the nationally recognized safety standards of LPI, NFPA, and UL. A lightning protection system is an important investment in areas prone to lightning, as it provides a network of low-resistance paths to safely intercept the dangerous electricity and direct it to ground without impact to the structure or its occupants.
Online resources to help consumers determine the right products and technologies to protect homes include www.flash.org (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes-FLASH) and www.disastersafety.org (Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety – IBHS). The National Storm Shelter Association's website, www.nssa.cc, offers information on code approved safe rooms.
The 9/11 Opinion Survey was developed by the disaster safety communications firm Cote & D'Ambrosio. Full results of the survey are available at www.disastersafetystrategies.com. The survey was developed in conjunction with several leading emergency management and public health organizations to measure attitudes toward terrorism and natural disasters a decade after 9/11.
When asked to rate their concerns about natural disasters, the highest number of consumers were very or somewhat concerned about lightning strikes (62%). Concern levels for other hazards were: flooding (60%); tornadoes (59%); hurricanes (53%); ice storms (51%); earthquakes (47%); hail storms (47%); and wild fires (40%).
Lightning strikes cost more than $1 billion in insured losses in 2010—a significant increase from 2009, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found there were more than 213,000 lightning claims in 2010, up nearly 15 percent from 2009. These losses ranged from damage to expensive electronic equipment to structural fires that destroyed entire homes and caused serious injury or death. Insured catastrophe losses in the United States totaled $17.8 billion during the first half of 2011, according to insurer MunichRe, underscoring the importance of investments to minimize property damage due to natural disasters.
The Lightning Protection Institute 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. LPI recently introduced a third-party inspection program for installation quality assurance. Information about follow-up inspection services can be found at www.lpi-ip.com. 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.
SOURCE Lightning Safety Alliance