When Lightning Strikes Your Home
When lightning strikes a building, the electricity often surges through a home's wiring or plumbing system, searching for the quickest possible route to the ground. The most common place for a fire to ignite is in the attic, when a lightning bolt comes through the roof or top of the house.
While staying inside your home, away from doors and windows, is the safest place to be during a storm, a couple of dangers exist inside the home when lightning is involved, regardless of whether you have lightning protection in place.
- Power Surges: When lightning strikes a house, the electricity often surges through a home’s wiring or plumbing system, searching for the quickest possible route to the ground. Make sure to unplug any electronics (especially valuable ones like TVs or computers), or they could be destroyed. Avoid running water during a lightning storm. You could get electrocuted if you are touching or standing near water or any electronics that are plugged into walls.
- Fire: When lightning shoots through a home, there’s a risk for fire. The most common place for a fire to ignite is in the attic, when a lightning bolt comes through the roof or top of the house. However, the heat from the electricity of a lightning bolt that runs through the walls inside your plumbing or wiring could start a fire as well. You may notice it immediately, or it may burn slowly inside the walls without your realizing it for some time.
What to do if your property experiences a direct lightning strike.
- If you see fire or smell smoke, evacuate the property immediately.
- Call 911 and report to them that your property was struck by lightning. Do this regardless of whether or not you detect a smoke or fire.
- The fire department will search and assess your property using specialized equipment that detects heat signatures.
- Once your home is assessed and found to be safe, you will be able to return inside.
- Call your insurance company and explain what has happened.
- Call a trustworthy electrician to come out and inspect your home wiring. If you need recommendations, we’re happy to help!
- Check your roof for damage. Whether it’s a small hole in the roof, damaged shingles, or major fire damage, SERVPRO of Johnston County has emergency response available to prevent further damage and to restore your property and make it "Like it never even happened."
North Carolina ranks 6th in the country for lightning strike home insurance claims. In 2018 there were 3,119 filed insurance claims for lightning strikes. The average claim was nearly $12,000.