LIGHTNING protection

Thursday, May 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The storms in recent days have lit up the skies with lightning. At least 3 homes in the Tulsa area have been struck. KOTV's Glenda Silvey looked at ways to protect your home and yourself from the potential dangers of lightning.

Becky Teemon was sound asleep when she heard a loud crack followed by a bright flash of light at the window. Lightning had struck a huge tree in her back yard, causing it to fall on the power line. She went back inside and noticed the heating system had turned on. "Well I opened the door and flames just shot out the top of it, right of there." Teemon is grateful she and her children escaped, and firefighters arrived quickly. A house in nearby Hectorville also took a powerful hit from lightning, capable of delivering more than two million volts of electricity.

Electrical utilities do what they can to prevent scenes like this. "Lightning is the second largest cause of outages that our customers experience." PSO has two ways of protecting transmission lines and substations from lightning. One is a shield wire above the power lines. Steve Penrose with PSO says, "And the shield wire takes a lightning strike and then takes that pulse over to a ground wire that takes it to ground." Penrose says all power lines and substations also have lightning arresters that sense lightning pulses and redirect them. Electrician Joe Ousley says most people don't realize it doesn't take a direct lightning hit on the roof to cause damage. "It can be in a tree in the neighborhood or the neighbor's yard and the static flow through the air can come across your telephone lines or electrical lines." Ousley recommends lightning rods and surge protectors. But he points out that nothing can offer full protection against the power of nature.

Here are some lightning safety tips. If you're outside, avoid water, high ground, open spaces and metal objects. You also don't want to stand underneath canopies, near trees, or in small picnic shelters. If you’re indoors, avoid water, stay away from doors and windows, don't use the phone, take off headsets and unplug appliances and computers.