Lincoln County Power District No. 1 Manager Dave Luttrell writes in the latest issue of Ruralite magazine that the power poles used by the district “are mostly overhead wooden poles.” These poles are susceptible to lightning strikes, and with the monsoon season approaching, when thunderstorms and dry lightning can move across the county, lightning strikes are going to happen.
Luttrell notes that, “If lightning hits a line miles from your home, upstream from one of our substations, chances are you will never know it happened. However, if lightening hits the distribution line serving your home, your house may experience a power surge. Many items plugged in at your home can be damaged by these surges. Modern TVs, computers, stereos, washers, dryers, and ovens all have circuit boards that can be damaged.”
He adds, “Lightning caused about $30 million in personal property losses in 2014, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That is just the damage reported to the insurance carriers.”
Luttrell advises all home and business owners to take precautions. “Start by using surge protection strips, which can help protect computers, TVs and stereos plugged into wall outlets. Be aware though, that not all power strips have surge protectors. Unless the label indicates it is a surge protector, it is not. Make sure your surge protector has a UL voltage protection of 400 volts or less. The smaller the number the better.”
Ovens, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers need protection, too, so Luttrell advises investigating getting a whole-house surge protector.
He notes, “Whole-house surge protection works like a large surge suppression strip. It allows in only the electricity your home needs. Whole-house protection typically is wired to the electric service box and protects all appliances and electricals systems in a home. Typically it costs $200 to $500. But remember also, they are finite and do have to be replaced occasionally. Invest in one with a surge rating of 50 to 100 kiloampers and a VPR of 400 volts or less, which will last longer and provide better protection.”
Finally, Luttrell advises homeowners to check your insurance policy. Insurance coverage for losses resulting from power surges depends on your policy and how the power surge happened. If a power surge damages or destroys your electronics, personal property coverage may cover the loss up to the limits of your policy. But that can vary depending on your individual policy, so it is important to read it carefully and know what is covered and what is not, or talk with your insurance agent. If you don’t have the proper coverage, consider adding it.