Skip to Main Content

Start Of Main Content

Lightning safety

Know what to do in order to avoid injury and property damage when lightning strikes.

Lightning striking in a residential neighborhood

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that lightning strikes the ground on average about 20 million times per year in the United States. In 2020, those strikes resulted in 17 lightning-related fatality reports. In addition, lightning strikes cost $2.1 billion in insured losses in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Claims data from State Farm® found that in 2020 the average claim cost for a lightning strike was nearly $12,000. Many times, these strikes can land on or near residences, wreaking havoc on the home's electrical system, appliances or electronics.

Fortunately, by following these pointers, you may help safeguard your property — and yourself — from the damage inflicted by lightning.

Number of lightning strikes

Ways lightning can strike you

You don't have to be hit directly to suffer injuries. You also can be struck by:

  • A side flash: Lightning jumps from its primary target, typically a taller object, to the victim.
  • A ground current: Lightning strikes an object and then travels across the ground, making contact with a victim.
  • Conduction: A victim is touching a metal surface that is struck by lightning.

Lightning effects

According to weather.gov, hundreds of people are struck by lightning each year. The good news: 90% of victims survive. After being struck, there are mild and long-term side-effect symptoms.

Mild symptoms of a lightning strike may be:

  • Burns,
  • Vision or hearing loss,
  • Headaches,
  • Nausea,
  • Dizziness and
  • Confusion.

Long-term symptoms could be:

  • Easily distracted,
  • Ringing in the ears,
  • Problems with multi-tasking,
  • Nerve pain and
  • Unresolved headaches.

Lightning safety tips

If lightning is common in your area, familiarize yourself with ways to reduce risk before and during a lightning storm. For example:

  • Go indoors at the first sign of a storm.
  • Avoid touching electronics or anything with a cord, such as your hair dryer.
  • Stay away from water sources, including pipes, sinks and showers.
  • Do not stand or lean on concrete structures. Metal bars inside the concrete can conduct electricity.
  • Seek shelter in a hard-top vehicle if you're stuck outside. Also avoid sitting inside convertible cars, golf carts and motorcycles.
  • If swimming or boating when lightning is present, get out of the water and onto dry land.
  • Do not touch metal surfaces, such as a sliding door.
  • Avoid touching anything served by gas lines, such as water heaters, ovens, furnaces and fireplaces.
  • If you're outside and shelter isn't available, crouch down at least 100 feet from tall objects, tuck your head in and cover your ears.
  • If someone has been struck by lightning, call 911 or your local ambulance service immediately. If you are qualified, give the person first aid. Lightning victims are safe to touch and need medical attention right away.

Invest in lightning protection

Your best bet for stopping lightning damage in its tracks may be a lightning protection system tailored specifically to your home's architecture. Such a system creates a pathway for lightning bolts, guiding them safely into the ground.

Hire a professional

Installing a lightning protection system is not a do-it-yourself task due to all of the intricacies involved in completing the job accurately. Fortunately, you can find a reliable certified installer by visiting LPI.

Make sure your professional installer uses only products that bear proof of UL certification. This ensures the equipment complies with national industry standards.

Get a second opinion

If you move into a home with a lightning protection system in place, or you have structural repairs done to your home's exterior that could compromise your current system, it's wise to have your system checked out by a third-party independent follow-up inspector to ensure it still properly stands up to strikes.

Install lightning surge protection devices

Lightning strikes on or near a power line or utility service are a frequent cause of power surges. Point-of-use surge protection devices (SPDs), combined with a good grounding system, should protect your electronic and electrical appliances from most electrical surges. An SPD does not suppress or arrest a surge; it actually diverts the surge to the ground.

Service entrance SPDs provide protection for your entire electrical system and are usually installed at the electrical panel(s) or at the base of the service meter. These devices help prevent the entrance of overvoltages, which can cause a fire. Surge protection devices are typically installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system.

Lightning insurance

While there isn’t a policy for lightning alone, your homeowners, condo or renters policy can help get you get you back on your feet if lightning does strike. You can also contact your insurance agent if you have coverage questions about damage due to lightning.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.



Also Important

Shelter From the Storm

Shelter From the Storm

If you live in an area prone to severe weather, consider the protection of a safe room.

Are Power Surges Damaging Your Electronics?

Are Power Surges Damaging Your Electronics?

An invisible culprit may be harming your devices. Learn how to protect your property.

Related Articles

Ways to Stay Safe During Severe Storm or Wind Event

Ways to Stay Safe During Severe Storm or Wind Event

Severe weather and severe wind are common throughout the country. Read these safety tips to help your emergency planning.

What to Do After a Hurricane

What to Do After a Hurricane

Helpful tips to prevent further water damage, safely begin cleaning up and finding a contractor to help repair damage to your property.

Prepare Your Home For Spring Storms

Prepare Your Home For Spring Storms

You can't stop spring showers, but you can prepare your home and surroundings for thunderstorms, severe winds and more.