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Inside the Weather with Dr. Josh: When Lightning Strikes

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Within the past few weeks, a series of storms have barraged Louisiana several times and some residents have been impacted by lightning strikes.

On Tuesday night, residents of a home in Prairieville found themselves fleeing for their lives after their house caught fire from what was believed to be a lightning strike

Thanks to their quick action, the residents were able to escape safely. 

This may lead some to wonder what can be done to prevent a lightning strike and what they should do if lightning hits their home. 

Experts say when lightning strikes a home it's often followed a very loud, powerful boom that could shake your entire house. 

Fortunately, most homes are built to withstand lightning strikes without succumbing to major damage. 

This is the purpose of lightning rods; lightning wants to get from the cloud to the ground as quickly as possible, and lightning rods facilitate that journey, providing the fastest route. 

While staying inside your home, away from doors and windows, is the safest place to be during a storm, it's also a good idea to be aware of possible power surges and fire. 

Power surges may occur because when lightning strikes a house, the electricity often surges through a home’s wiring or plumbing system, searching for the quickest possible route to the ground.

So, make sure to unplug any electronics (especially valuable ones like TVs or computers), or they could be destroyed.

It's also key to avoid running water during a lightning storm. The reason for this is that you could get electrocuted if you're touching or standing near water (or any electronics) that are plugged into walls.

Fire is also a concern. Some experts say the most common place for a fire to ignite is in the attic, when a lighting bolt comes through the roof or top of the house. However, the heat from the electricity of a lightning bolt that runs through the walls inside your plumbing or wiring could start a fire as well. You may notice it immediately, or it may burn slowly inside the walls without your realizing it for some time.

If your home is struck, it may help to follow these six suggestions:

-First, make sure everyone is okay. If you see fire or smell smoke, evacuate your home immediately.
-Call 911, and tell them your home was struck by lightning. Do this regardless of whether or not you detect a fire hazard.
-The fire department will come out to your property and assess the area for damage, including using thermal imaging cameras to search inside walls for heat that could or already has started a fire.
-Once your home is assessed and found to be safe, you will be able to return inside.
-Call your insurance company and explain what has happened.
-Call a trustworthy electrician to come out and inspect your home wiring.

Additional information on lightning and how to avoid the dangers it can pose are available at The National Weather Service's website.  


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