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Lightning and thunderstorms often go together. Unfortunately, sometimes home fires also happen because of lightning and weather conditions associated with seasonal storms.

According to NOAA.gov, forecasters are predicting near- or above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year. Inland states are often affected by seasonal weather patterns that originated as hurricanes near the coastal areas.

Those seasonal inland storms often include high winds, hail and lightning. A single strike from lightning can cause significant damage, or even total loss to a home. Lightning can damage a home through a direct strike, through a secondary strike like hitting a nearby tree or powerline first, through phone lines and cables, satellite dishes, and through irrigation systems or electric fences.

The Red Cross published information that explained a severe thunderstorm produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes.

According to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., lightning accounts for more than one billion dollars annually in structural damage to U.S. Buildings. The Insurance Informational Institute reported that the average homeowner lightning claim is over $5,000, with claims ranging from damage to electronic equipment to structural fires that destroy portions of or even entire homes.

Here are three precautionary steps to avoid home fires due to lightning and seasonal storms.

Proactively prepare landscaping prior to storm season. Keeping trees and bushes trimmed back away from the house and other outbuildings reduces the chance of lightning traveling through them to the roof or other areas of the house.

Tree arborists often recommend a heavy-gauge copper cable system installed near the tree to help conduct electricity through the cable instead of the tree trunk, down through the ground and into a ground rod. This tree protection and help reduce falling limbs that might damage your home. Contact a professional tree service to determine if this is right for your yard.

Equip your home with a similar lightning protection system. A professional lightning protection system is made from copper or aluminum components that are bolted together to form a continuous and highly conductive path from the high points on a house to copper rods or metal rings buried deep in the earth. Find an electrician or specialist certified with the Lightning Protection Institute for proper installation.

Avoid using electronics, the telephone, and water during a severe thunderstorm. Unplug electronics during storms to protect the appliance and to prevent lightning from traveling through it as a conduit to other areas of the house. Since electricity can travel through phone lines and plumbing, avoid using the phone or taking a shower or bath during a severe thunderstorm.

What happens when the house is hit by lightning?

Safety comes first – get out and call 911 for help. Make sure everyone is safe, the property is secured and call your insurance adjustor.

Insurance companies will coordinate the assistance of a fire damage specialist to help assess the situation, evaluate the damage, remove evidence of fire, smoke, or soot, and clean the home to pre-accident condition.

When you need structural help for your home or business due to seasonal storm damage, call ServiceMaster Restoration by All Action for qualified, professional disaster services.