Woman's home hit by lightning, tips to keep you and your home safe

Published: Jun. 27, 2014 at 11:13 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2014 at 10:00 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - North Carolina is one of the top states for lightning related deaths and insurance claims across the country, and this week highlights ways to keep you and your home safe.

One family in New Hanover County experienced the shock of a lightning bolt first hand.

"I told them [firefighters] I could smell a smell and heard a great big bang and we didn't have any air conditioning," Debbie Meyerson said.

Lightning had hit Debbie's home leaving behind sound charred siding and holes in her air conditioning vents.

She says it would have been a close call had it not been for a person calling and reporting that a house had been hit by lightning.

State farm has released some tips for keeping your home safe:

• For protection from lightning strikes in the general area of your home or an externally produced surge, a whole-house surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage or a fire.

• Install additional protection for important or expensive electronic equipment. This should include localized surge protection for power cords to the electronic equipment and any telephone and cable/satellite TV lines connecting to the equipment.

• Make sure all equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled.

• Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt. The system neither attracts nor repels a strike, but receives the stroke and routes it harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. Be sure the lightning protection system is designed and installed in accordance with accepted industry standards.

They also offer tips for protecting yourself:

• Treat lightning with proper caution. If you are outside and a thunderstorm approaches, immediately seek shelter inside a fully enclosed building.

• If a building is not available, take shelter in a car with a metal top and keep doors and windows closed.

• Certain locations are extremely hazardous during thunderstorms. Avoid lakes, beaches or open water; fishing from a boat or dock; and riding on golf carts, farm equipment, motorcycles or bicycles. Never seek shelter under a tree!

• If caught outdoors, try to minimize your risk by going to a place of lower elevation.

• Stay off the telephone. In your home, do not 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

You can also stay ahead of the storm by using the WECT Weather App.