With the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season getting under way on June 1, the most prepared families are already working to protect their homes and personal property. And when the kind of severe thunderstorms that typically accompany hurricanes set in, the risk of an electrical surge in the home, along with the potential for damage to connected electronics within it, rises dramatically.
Lightning does not have to strike a home directly to cause major problems for plugged-in electrical devices. A strike to or near a power line in the area can send a power surge into a home’s electrical system, which can result in serious device damage. But alert and prepared individuals can take steps to protect their devices before any damage occurs. Those looking to prevent losses caused by damage to electronics can take the following steps to keep the devices in their homes safe:
- Unplug devices. The best way to protect electrical devices and appliances from lightning-caused electrical surges is to unplug them as severe weather approaches. This way, should a power surge caused by a lightning strike use the home’s wiring system as its primary or secondary path, the devices have been completely taken off of the circuit, preventing any damage.
- Install surge protectors. Of course, lightning can strike when homeowners are away and, therefore, unable to unplug their electrical devices and appliances. By equipping their grounded electrical outlets with plug-in, point-of-use electrical surge protectors, which divert power surges to a ground connection when they strike, homeowners can drastically limit the voltage that reaches their plugged-in devices.
- Install a whole-home lightning protection system. To protect the entire home from electrical surges, homeowners can have a licensed electrician install a service-entrance surge protector, which is typically placed between the electric meter outside the home and a home’s main electrical service panel or breaker box. These can prevent an electrical surge from ever entering the home’s internal wiring system, thereby protecting all of the electrical devices within the home.
Other options for professionally installed whole-home protection include lightning rods, main conductors, ground rods and bonds, all of which can work together to intercept lightning strikes, capture their energy and direct the flow of electricity to the ground.
- Review homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance policy. Even when a range of steps are taken to protect the home and the devices inside it, it is always wise for individuals to have insurance on their side should disaster strike. But not all policies cover everything inside the home, so consumers will want to be careful to review their insurance policies carefully to ensure that their coverage is strong.
One more note: While not necessarily related to protecting devices from electrical surges, it is always a good idea to have a battery-powered radio at the ready in case the power goes out for extended periods of time. That way, homeowners can stay abreast of weather conditions in their area and be prepared to move all family members to safety should dangerous weather conditions be imminent.
More severe-weather resources
To report a power outage: FTC customers who experience a service outage can call 611 from any FTC phone or 888-218-5050 from any phone. More info is available on FTC’s Severe Weather Information page.
Hurricane preparedness: Those seeking helpful info on preparing for hurricanes can visit FTC’s hurricane-preparedness page at ftc.net/severe-weather.
Educational articles: More severe weather-related info for homeowners can be found in previous FTC blog articles, including 12 Ways to Prepare a Home for Bad Weather and This Lightning Safety Week, Make Sure Your Home Is Protected.
Lightning Safety Week: During Lightning Safety Awareness Week, set for June 21-27, FTC will share a range of helpful lightning-safety information via its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Looking to add an additional layer of protection against unexpected home-repair bills? For just $4.95 a month, homeowners in FTC’s service area can add Connection Protection to their FTC Internet, Voice, Security and Digital TV services. This add-on protection from FTC covers your home’s wiring and jacks against damage caused by accidental cutting, normal wear and tear, rodent damage and other unforeseen events, such as damage from storms. Visit ftc.net to learn more about Connection Protection and when you’re ready to protect your home’s wiring, contact FTC Customer Service at 888-218-5050.