Here are our top tips and tricks for preventing lightning losses:
1. Install a lightning protection system. A lightning protection system supplies structural protection by providing a specified path on which lightning can travel. When a building is equipped with a lightning protection system, the destructive power of the lightning strike is directed safely into the ground, leaving the structure and its contents undamaged.
The system includes a lightning rod or air terminals at the top of the house that can be disguised to look like a weather vane and wires to carry the current down to grounding rods at the bottom of the house.
2. Use surge protectors. Today’s sensitive electronic equipment is particularly vulnerable to lightning. To assure the highest level of protection, UL-listed surge arrestors should be installed on electrical service panels. Installations typically include surge arrestors for the main electric panel, as well as incoming phone, cable, satellite and data lines.
Surge arrestors protect against damaging electrical surges that can enter a structure via power transmission lines. By filtering and dissipating the harmful surges, arrestors prevent electrical fires and protect against electrical discharges that can damage a building’s electrical system, computers, appliances and other systems.
3. Unplug expensive electronic equipment. As an added precaution, unplug expensive electronic equipment such as TVs, computers and the like if you know a storm is approaching.
Do’s and Don’ts for Lightning Safety
1. Stay indoors. Take shelter in a home, large building or fully enclosed building. Hard topped-vehicles are generally safe shelters, as well.
2. Avoid areas where you will be the highest object. If you are caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end (an indication that lightning is about to strike) drop down and crouch with hands on knees, rocking up on the balls of your feet. (The idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible.) Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground.
3. Certain locations are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms. Avoid lakes, beaches or open water, fishing from a boat or dock, riding on golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles. Take shelter in tunnels, subways, even ditches or caves if necessary—but never under a tree!
4. If caught on high ground or in an open area, seek shelter in a low area and stay away from trees. A small grove of bushes or shrubs is preferable to lone trees.
5. To avoid side flashes (voltage from a nearby struck object) stay clear of fences or isolated trees. Keep away from telephone poles, power lines, pipelines or other electrically conductive objects.
6. Stay off the telephone! In your home, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay away from the TV, plumbing, sinks, tubs, radiators and stoves. Avoid contact with small electric appliances such as radios, toasters and hairdryers.
Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Here are some great tips for driving in the snow and dealing with winter road emergencies.
Tips for driving in the snow:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
- The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
- Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
AAA has put together a great brochure that includes tips for driving in the snow among other winter preparation tips. To read the brochure, you can go to the following link: http://exchange.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/AAA-How-to-Go-Ice-Snow.pdf
Avoiding Frozen Pipes
Before the Cold Hits:
- Check for small holes or cracks in the exterior of your home and ensure they are insulated.
- Cover around any water pipes that are on the inside of exterior walls.
If Your House is Occupied During the Winter:
- Maintain temperature settings at 3-4 degrees higher than normal.
- Turn on any faucets and allow a constant trickle.
- Open any cabinet doors under sinks to allow heat to warm the pipes.
- Insulate your pipes.
- Shut off exterior faucets used for garden hoses from inside your basement and leave the exterior faucets open outside.
If Your House is Unoccupied During the Winter:
- Set the thermostat no lower than 60 degrees and install a low heat alarm.
- Have a plumber install a low water cutoff switch on a forced hot water boiler.
- Have the water service shut off all to your house.
- Drain all waterlines leaving drain valves open.
- Shut off gas to the home.
- Have the house checked weekly.
Winterize Your Car
- Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
- Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
- Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- Install good winter tires – Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
- Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:
- a shovel
- windshield scraper and small broom
- battery powered radio
- extra batteries
- snack food
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- first aid kit with pocket knife
- necessary medications
- tow chain or rope
- road salt and sand
- booster cables
- emergency flares
- fluorescent distress flag
Winterize Your Home
- Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
- Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
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