Lightning storms happen frequently and they may get even more common. Although we may enjoy watching them from afar, having lightning hit your house or other building is no trivial matter and you need to take action as soon as it’s safe.
Lightning wants to hit the ground
Which in itself is great, but if it happens to hit something that’s in the way, it’ll just go straight through it, causing all sorts of damage.
When it hits a house, it’ll seek the path of least resistance, which usually means more conductive materials like metal. This means wiring, plumbing and metal guttering. This can blow everything in a split second.
Check for damaged guttering
Your gutters, roof or individual tiles could be damaged so you need to check them.
Your roof may not be damaged immediately, though…
A lightning bolt is disastrous enough on its own – it can punch a hole through a roof, damage the structures underneath or just dislodge tiles, leaving your roof and the space below exposed to the elements. Just one dislodged tile is bad news, though, as water can get in.
You need to look for fires
A lightning strike can start a fire. It can ignite any flammable material it hits, or it can start a fire if it travels through exposed wires. As soon as it’s safe to, you should look for smoke, a burning smell, char marks and actual fire in your roof, your attic or anywhere else in the building. Fires can smoulder almost undercover, so use every sense – sniff the air, feel for hotspots and look for smoke or flames.
Look to your electronics
Your electronics are vulnerable to lightning strikes – the power surge can destroy the wiring in appliances like TVs, fridges and computers. A lightning strike doesn’t even have to hit your home directly – if it hits a power line going into your home you could be in trouble.
What to do if lightning strikes
You’ll be in no doubt about a lightning strike. It’s loud, blinding and terrifying. Your electric supply will cut out and you may hear buzzing sounds.
Washington State University Extension Energy Program says that after you make your initial emergency checks for roof damage and fire, you should inspect these elements to determine whether there is any damage:
Once everything’s died down, you should run through a series of checks:
- circuit breakers, power outlets and light switches;
- use a resistance tester to see if any of your wiring is damaged;
- test your landline phones;
- see if your water pressure is OK to discount any leaks, and
- look at your plumbing to see if there’s any damage or leaks.
A lightning strike is frightening, but by staying calm, checking and calling out an electrician you can root out and fix any damage so that everyone’s safe.