Summer weather: the perils of lightning

August 8, 2016 6:10 am

We all know it’s been an incredibly wet summer so far, and our hearts go out to those who have been flooded over the last few weeks. But there’s another dangerous issue associated with these heavy summer storms: the threat of lightning strikes.

It seems we’re being hit extremely hard by this stormy weather. One insurer – Direct Line – received over 200 claims for lightning damage in June, which is around 10 times the normal number they receive at this time of year.

Incredibly, one lightning strike caused £45,000 of damage to a property in Preston, Lancashire. Items affected included CCTV cameras, intruder alarms, water features, telephone lines, heating and lighting systems, flat screen TVs, Sky boxes and a sound system.

The insurer has been quoted as saying that a lightning strike ‘fries’ electrical circuits, leading to extensive and instantaneous damage. But it often goes much further than that: we don’t get involved in smaller insurance claims but, when we’re called in to help people making larger claims after a lightning strike, we’ve seen huge damage including major fires which have completely destroyed their homes.

According to the most recent estimates, the UK has a low rate of lightning strikes compared to elsewhere: on average there are 0.46 lightning strikes per square km each year here compared to, for example, some parts of Brazil which have 300. This could be why most of us don’t consider having lightning protection systems installed in our homes. The cost of these systems is on average between £1500 and £3000, so as always it’s a risk-and-reward calculation.

But to put one thing straight: according to an article from the BBC, if you’ve been hit once, you shouldn’t be complacent as you might be hit again. It’s simply not true that lightning never strikes twice.