While lightning striking a home is uncommon – it isn’t unheard of. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 72,000 lightning strike claims were filed in 2020.
You’ll know your home suffered a lightning strike after you hear a loud and powerful “BOOM” like you would with most lightning strikes, but this one will be more memorable and shake your home. You may also hear a continuous buzzing or hissing sound following the strike. If lightning does strike your home, there are 5 areas of concern you’ll want to address right away:
1. Ensure no one is injured
Make sure no one is hurt above all else. If someone has suffered any harm, seek medical attention and call 911 immediately.
2. Look for signs of fire
A direct lightning strike doesn’t always start a home fire, but a powerful enough strike certainly can. Thoroughly inspect your home and look for smoke, charred electrical outlets, heat coming from your attic, etc. If you find a heat source and are confident that there may be a fire or a strong potential for a fire, follow the fire escape plan for your home and exit immediately. Once you reach a safe location, contact your local fire department, and wait for their arrival.
3. Avoid hazardous conditions
There are certain things you should avoid during a lightning storm in general, like using your water in any way or using electronics that are plugged into the wall.
The next step is to make sure the lightning strike didn’t create a dangerous situation that could lead to an injury such as a hole in your roof, broken/hanging beams, exposed wires, etc.
4. Identify and prevent additional damages
It is common for a lightning strike to affect many elements of your home. After the storm has passed, take some time to walk through your property and document any damage you discover that wasn’t present before the strike.
It is just as important to prevent further damages as it is locating the initial damage. Some preventative measures you may wish to take include:
Address holes in the roof
Holes in the roof create a potential for significant water damage, especially if the storm is still active. Rain can seep into the home and damage wood, drywall, electrical systems, and just about any other part it can find. If at all possible, cover the hole with a tarp or other temporary solution until repairs can be made, or, set out a large bucket to catch as much of the water as possible.
Turn the power off in problem areas
A lightning strike could have shorted out some of your electrical systems. If you find that appliances or even entire rooms are not working, it is best to cut the electricity to that room until an electrical professional can look at it. Take care when cutting the power off at the fuse panel and ensure there are no signs of lightning damage to the box itself before cutting off the power.
5. Submit an insurance claim
If you uncover quite a bit of damage to your home and/or belongings, contact your independent insurance agent as soon as you can to initiate the claims process. Your agent and the assigned claims adjuster will work to get you back to where you were before this happened!
Be sure to provide them with the documentation and photos of damage you discovered, and if possible, a copy of your home inventory list. This type of situation is exactly what homeowners insurance is for!
No one wants to go through lightning striking their house. There are some things you can do to safeguard your home from lightning strikes, but ultimately it is best to know how to react if the situation does occur.