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Lightning Safety Awareness Week

While the city of Houston is known for NASA and a host of other famous sites, it also has the dubious distinction of being the “lightning capital of Texas.” It’s true. We have the most lightning strikes per kilometer than any other part of the state. According to researchers at Texas A&M, the combination of Houston’s heat-retaining buildings, cement parking lots and complicated highway systems create an “urban heat island” effect. This unique occurrence results in the city getting much warmer than the outlying rural areas. Thunderstorms thrive on heat, so this “island” feeds the storms, spurring on additional activity.

Houston’s geographical location, which puts it in the middle of both sea and bay breezes, also adds to the tumultuous mix. Coming in from directions, these breezes bring in small cold fronts every day. The fronts force the air to rise, creating large storm clouds. Because this is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Universal Home Services thought it would be a good idea to share some helpful tips with our Houston neighbors. Statistics from the National Weather Service reveal that July is the month with the highest rate of fatal lightning incidents. This makes safety issue even more important heading into the summer.

The following guidelines are from the National Weather Service:

Seek Shelter: The basic rule of thumb is to seek shelter indoors when a thunderstorm approaches. Do not seek shelter under a tree or any other tall, open structure.

Thunder Warning: When you hear thunder, go indoors and stay there until 30 minutes after the final thunder clap.

Vehicle Safety: If you are stuck inside a vehicle during a thunderstorm, avoid anything that might act as a conductor. This includes the ignition, any metal surfaces or devices plugged in that are being charged.

Lightning Reach: Most victims of lightning are struck after the storm reaches its intensity, this is because lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from its parent storm.

Home Interior: Once you are inside, stay away from windows and doors. Never watch a storm sitting on an open porch either. Keep inside an interior room until the storm has passed.

Electrical Equipment: Stay away from all plugged in electrical equipment and corresponding cords. This includes computers, televisions, household appliances and corded phones. Wireless technology is safe to use as long as it isn’t being charged.

Electrical Surges: Lightning surges can damage and even destroy electrical appliances. The typical surge protector won’t help in the case of a dangerous lightning surge. If you don’t have whole house surge protection, consider unplugging all major appliances.

Protect Pets: Dog houses and other outdoor shelters are not safe places for pets to be during a thunderstorm. Keep all pets inside until the storm has passed.

Avoid Plumbing: During a thunderstorm, stay away from metal plumbing and water, both of which conduct electricity. Do not bathe, shower, wash dishes or any other water-related activity during a thunderstorm.

Avoid Concrete Surfaces: Concrete walls and flooring can contain metal bars or wires which can also conduct electricity.

ESFI Lightning Safety

Universal Home Experts hopes that you and your household have a safe and active summer. If you decide that you’d like to protect your home from destructive lightning surges, give us a call today. We can schedule an assessment with a professional technician and offer solutions to protect your home. Call (713) 364-0226 to get started!