NEW YORK, June 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lightning is an underrated weather hazard, yet it is a leading storm-related killer and results in more than one billion dollars in property damage each year in the U.S., according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
In fact, every year lightning strikes the ground 30 million times and injures about a thousand people in the U.S., according to the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI).
Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 24-30, 2012. The LPI is kicking off its Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Tampa Firefighters Museum, 720 E. Zack Street, Tampa, Florida.
The event is being held in the state as Florida is especially prone to lightning, averaging nearly 3 million lightning flashes per year. In fact, Tampa is known as the "Lightning Capital of North America" and has seen 81 lightning deaths since 1998.
Lightning is not only deadly; it can be destructive to property. An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found there were more than 186,307 lightning claims in 2011, down nearly 13 percent since 2010. These losses ranged from damage to expensive electronic equipment to structural fires that destroyed entire homes.
Although the actual number of paid claims fell by over 33 percent from 2004 to 2011, the average cost per claim rose 93 percent during the seven-year period. The I.I.I. puts the average lightning claim in 2011 at $5,112, up 5.5 percent from 2010.
"Most people are uninformed about protecting themselves and their property from lightning," said Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the I.I.I. "And the average person often confuses lightning myths with lightning facts."
According to the LPI, three of the most common lightning myths are:
- Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Fact: Lighting often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it is a tall, pointy, isolated object.
- If it's not raining or if there are no clouds overhead, you are safe from lightning. Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from thunderstorms, far outside the area covered by the rain or even the thunderstorm clouds.
- Lightning rods attract lighting. Fact: Lightning rods DO NOT attract lightning. Instead, they provide a path to the ground for discharging the dangerous electricity.
To protect yourself from lightning, the I.I.I. and the LPI recommend the following actions:
- If you are outside with a thunderstorm approaching, seek shelter inside a substantial building as soon as possible–ideally in a structure with a lightning protection system. If you hear thunder, then lightning is close enough to strike. Remember, if thunder roars, go indoors!
- If a safe building is not available, take shelter in a car with a metal roof and keep doors and windows closed. It is the metal frame of the car that protects you from lightning, not the rubber tires.
- If someone has been struck by lightning, provide first-aid immediately. It is perfectly safe to touch someone who has been struck by lightning–you will not get an electrical shock. Call 911 immediately and begin CPR or use a defibrillator, if available.
- Invest in a lightning protection system for your home and/or business. A building with a properly installed lightning protection system is a smart investment as it provides proven protection for your family, homes and valuables. It is an important safety investment in areas prone to lightning.
I.I.I. videos are available including: Educational Video Featuring Ben and Franklin; Lightning Myths (also available in Spanish); How to Pick a Lightning Protection System (also in Spanish); Being Smart About Lightning Protection; and Don't Be a Dummy About Lightning Protection Systems.
For more information on lightning safety, visit the National Weather Service.
NOAA's lightning safety page: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/
Issues Update: Catastrophes
Facts and Statistics: Lightning
THE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY.
Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org
SOURCE Insurance Information Institute