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Lightning can be frightening, especially if you live in an area that gets lots of it every year. You may be worried about how lightning strikes will affect your home and all of the appliances that you depend on to run your life day-to-day, such as electronics and appliances. Rest assured that there are some easy steps you can take to protect your electronic appliances from lightning damage and keep them running strong during thunderstorms.

01. Be aware of some myths about lightning protection

In reality, there are a lot of myths surrounding lightning. For example, many believe that you should unplug electronic devices during a thunderstorm. But if you’re smart about it, there’s no reason why your appliances should be turned off during a storm (at least not when it comes to protecting them from damage). In fact, turning electronic devices off can actually increase your risk of being electrocuted! The only thing worth unplugging is your TV or computer monitor—and that’s for another reason altogether… Because these appliances have glass screens and are much more likely to explode when they come into contact with electricity than other household items. By all means, protect yourself by getting to a safe place before lightning strikes; but once you’re in that safe place, feel free to leave your electronics on and go about your business as usual. Lightning doesn’t care how many electronic devices you have in your home. If it hits one appliance during its trip through your home’s wiring system, it will strike others just as easily. Unplugging everything won’t stop lightning from striking, but keeping them plugged in will reduce any potential fire hazards caused by lightning strikes.
 

02. What happens if I don’t take precautions during a storm?

If you’re not careful, your electronics could be seriously damaged during a thunderstorm. If they are near windows, they might be hit by a lightning strike. It’s important to unplug all of your electronic devices before thunder and lightning arrive; if you’re unable to do so in time, turn off any equipment that is powered on, such as televisions or computers. It may also be a good idea to move equipment that is susceptible to lightning damage into a safer area of your home. For example, it wouldn’t hurt for your expensive computer or gaming console to be moved away from outside walls and windows – even if it means temporarily storing them under a bed until after the storm has passed. However, don’t use an extension cord when moving electronic appliances—the added strain can cause fire hazards. Also remember to keep a close eye on batteries – they should always be removed prior to electrical storms. A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward protecting your electronic gadgets from lightning damage!
 

03. Where do you put your devices during a storm?

We’ve all been told by our parents not to touch any devices during a lightning storm, but many of us don’t know exactly where you should be putting them. To ensure your TV, computer, cell phone and other sensitive electronics are safe from lightning damage, here are some guidelines: Place phones or computers on a flat surface with their feet pointing up. If there is no electricity flowing through your home then place appliances in water like a bathtub. If you hear thunder after you put your appliances in water then remove them immediately. Never take them out until at least an hour after you have heard thunder. Make sure that all electronic cords are turned off and disconnected before placing your appliances in water. Also make sure to unplug all corded phones. Once you are done with these steps your appliances will be perfectly protected from lightning damage. And remember if it starts thundering while they are still plugged in or powered on, unplug them right away!
 

04. The best ways to prevent damage

To make sure your appliances are protected, unplug them. If you’re using something that can’t be unplugged, turn it off and get a surge protector. It won’t prevent damage, but it will minimize how bad it is. Surge protectors also work on an outlet level—meaning they even protect things plugged into different outlets nearby that aren’t connected to a surge protector themselves. Some types of surge protectors are rated differently (i.e., they have different joule ratings), which indicate how much voltage they can absorb before getting damaged themselves and potentially starting a fire or causing more damage than there would have been otherwise. Look for surge protectors with higher joule ratings for better protection.
 

05. Make sure everything is off before the storm arrives

While you can’t control when a thunderstorm will hit, you can protect your electronics by making sure they are unplugged and everything is turned off before it arrives. If you’re using an extension cord, make sure it’s rated for outdoor use or put a surge protector between your appliance and your wall outlet. You might also want to look into surge protection devices with lightning protection ratings; these devices not only protect electronic appliances but can give you up to one million dollars worth of insurance should damage occur. Since most homeowners’ policies don’t cover damage caused by lightning strikes, having an extra layer of protection is vital. Be prepared: Since power surges often happen in quick bursts, surge protectors won’t do much good if they aren’t on. So if you live in an area prone to storms—or even just have a tendency to lose power every time there’s a storm—make sure all of your surge protectors are plugged in. Don’t run cords through walls: Cords running through walls pose a significant risk during lightning storms.
 

06. Avoid placing your electronics near the window

Thundering, flashing lightning is a dramatic and beautiful thing to watch, but it’s also a strong electrostatic discharge. Don’t put your electronic gadgets near windows, because if lightning strikes nearby, it can come into your home through that window as well. Additionally, try placing surge protectors between outlets and electronic devices for extra security—in addition to protecting against surges due to storms or overloading your circuits. Also make sure to use only power strips with built-in surge protection, which will give you extra peace of mind during the lightning season. If you have any electronic equipment on shelves above appliances like washers and dryers, unplug them when there’s lightning in your area. These appliances generate electromagnetic fields that could disrupt your electronics while they’re charging up or while they’re trying to perform other functions. Even an appliance turned off can produce an electromagnetic field powerful enough to interfere with electronics next to it. These tips should help keep your electronics safe from lightning damage so you don’t have another crisis on your hands when you least expect it!
 

07. Never hide your electronics under your bed during a storm

The idea that electronic devices should be kept out of harm’s way is a myth. The truth is, if you store your electronics under a bed or in another room when there’s lightning outside, it actually makes them more vulnerable to damage from a nearby strike. Electrical charges can jump long distances and enter your home through ungrounded outlets, power strips and extension cords. The best place for your electronic gadgets during storms is on high ground near an outlet and away from windows. If you live near water or outside of town, disconnecting appliances will further reduce risks and prevent damage to nearby homes as well. Electronic appliances need electricity to work properly—and they don’t like surges!
 

08. Protect your equipment with surge protectors

If you own electronic equipment, you are likely familiar with power surges and electrical spikes. These happen when your home loses power. It may come back on immediately, or it may take a while. In either case, after a power surge or spike has passed through your lines, any electronic equipment in your home could be damaged or destroyed. Surge protectors are devices that prevent damage to expensive electronics like computers and televisions by blocking surges and dips in voltage. If a protector senses an unusually high voltage level coming down its line, it will interrupt that flow of electricity so no damage occurs to your device. There are different types of surge protectors for different kinds of equipment but all perform essentially the same function: protecting expensive appliances from sudden surges in voltage levels.
 

09. What you should do after a thunderstorm hit

From smartphones to laptops, many of our electronic appliances rely on a steady supply of electricity. And although they may be designed and built with safety in mind, there’s nothing that can protect them completely against damage caused by sudden bursts of electricity—like lightning strikes. Here are a few things you should do after a thunderstorm passes through your area: 1) Unplug all electronics immediately; 2) Check every appliance for signs of water or other liquid damage; 3) Call up your insurance company as soon as possible. If your policy covers any damages incurred during a storm, you’ll want to file a claim right away. 4) If your home has been struck by lightning and you have time, take pictures of any visible damage so that it will be easier to document when talking with an adjuster later on. 5) If there is any chance at all that your home has been struck by lightning (your phone line is dead, or if lights flickered), call an electrician first thing in the morning. You might also want to consider calling an electrician even if everything seems fine just so he can double-check the wiring and make sure everything is still safe.

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