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WE LIVE IN THE LIGHTNING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.  At least that’s what I’ve been hearing since we moved here almost twenty years ago.   Still, people are generally unaware of the fatal damage that lightning can cause to the sensitive electronics in their computer.  APC, the company that makes superior UPS and surge protectors (www.apc.com), provides some interesting facts about lightning:

Facts:

Lightning can:

  • Have a flash that can be six to eight miles long
  • Heat up to 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit (about four times the temperature of the sun
  • Carry 1 billion volts and 10,000 to 20,000 amperes of current.  By comparison, your house probably only uses 200 amps
  • Cause the ground surface to be lethal up to a 60-foot radius at the time of the strike.  If the strike occurs in water, that increases to a 600-foot radius

Myth:  Lightning rods attract/discharge lightning.

Truth:  The direction lightning takes is purely random.  Rods only provide a conductive path to ground for an electrical charge that is already in the area.

Myth:  Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Truth:  Lightning often strikes the same location several times a year.  The Empire State Building, for example, is hit about 25 times a year.

Myth:  Umbrellas, cleats and golf clubs attract lightning.

Truth:  Nothing “attracts” lightning.  The only determinant that effects where lightning will strike is the location of the thunderstorm itself.

Myth:  Lightning strikes, or is more likely to strike, tall objects.

Truth:  Lightning has the ability to strike everything and everywhere. Some 12% of lightning strikes hit trees and other tall objects.  If trees are hit, though, they can be dangerous as the bark and wood can explode and hurt you if you are standing nearby, so its not a good idea to go near trees.

Myth:  Lightning victims are electrified.

Truth:  Victims and the surrounding ground do not carry an electrical charge after the strike and are safe to touch.

Myth:  Automobile tires and crepe shoe soles insulate from a strike.

Truth:  Not at all.  The metal roof on a car will protect you, though.

Throughout the year, and particularly during the summer months, we see houses that are the subject of direct or near-direct lightning hits.  Sometimes virtually every item of electronics is damaged - TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, stoves, stereos as well as computers.  Sometimes, because they are more sensitive, only the computers are damaged.  In a lesser case, only the cable/DSL modem is damaged, possibly the ethernet card or electrical power supply in the computer.  Other times, the surge will continue on to damage the computer’s motherboard or hard drive. 

In all cases, a proper surge protector or UPS has been shown to substantially reduce or eliminate the effects of power surges and lightning strikes, although almost nothing will protect you from a direct lightning hit.  WE SELL AND INSTALL A COMPLETE LINE OF SURGE PROTECTION AND UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SUPPLY EQUIPMENT.  CALL US FOR FURTHER INFORMATION...

Another major cause of power outages:  SQUIRRELS, believe it or not.  For more information and facts, go to SCRAT.

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