A typical lightning bolt is composed of an electrical energy core ½ inch to ¾ inch thick surrounded by a 4 inch channel of hot air. The temperature can approach 60,000 degrees – several times the temperature of the sun’s surface; the electrical force generated can reach two hundred million volts with power of two hundred thousand amps. Lightning is necessary to establish chemical reactions in the soil and is considered a friend of the farmer. A bolt of electricity creates nitrous oxide gas in the air, which dissolves in the rain and is absorbed by the soil. Some scientists estimate that lightning plays the major role in bringing useful nitrogen to the soil.
Ninety million times each year lightning strikes in the United States. Around the world, lightning hits the earth a hundred times each second. Deaths from lightning don’t attract national attention because each one is unrelated, but lightning kills more people than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
Lightning is rated as the greatest natural destroyer of property. Trees break, wires burn, appliances explode, power lines fall and bricks move when lightning strikes. Fifty percent of all fire insurance loss claims are blamed on lightning, which destroys 30,000 homes and buildings each year. Annual losses approach one half billion dollars.
When a person is struck by lightning, breathing stops and the heart fibrillates. Three people are injured for every one that dies. Although most deaths happen outdoors to men and boys, more total casualties occur at home than in any other location Talking on the telephone, working in the kitchen and doing laundry are the primary sources of injury at home. On the farm, lightning causes 85% of all cattle deaths.
Electricity is in the air. When a storm builds, charges polarize: negative thunder clouds move over the land creating positive ground charges which swarm up into trees, buildings, wires and people. When voltages reach a peak, the cloud discharges to a positive target. Lightning will leap over a mile, but usually chooses the closest, tallest and most isolated collector of positive charge as its target.
How To Protect
Inside Unprotected Buildings – Stay off the telephone; move out of the kitchen, turn off laundry machines and televisions. Step away from doors and windows into the center of a large room.
Outdoors – Move away from water, piers or beaches. Avoid wire fences, metal tools, machinery, isolated trees or high rocky sites. Dismount your tractor, bike, golf cart or horse. The inside of a parked automobile is good protection.
Your Home and Business
Protect home, business and trees with lightning protection systems by Baca Lightning Protection. Each system conforms to codes of the National Fire Protection Association, Underwriter’s Laboratories and the Lightning Protection Institute. Do not attempt to rig a lightning protection system yourself; the slightest mistake in materials, design or installation can attract lightning into your home with great destruction.
Protect your barns, loafing sheds, pens, trees, irrigation systems and milking parlors with proper lightning systems. Barns are more often destroyed than other buildings because they are isolated and flammable.