Benefits Of Lightning Rods
Wednesday, May 10th 2006, 9:24 AM CDT
Several Tulsa house fires early Wednesday morning might be traced to lightning strikes.
There is a way some of the damage could have been prevented - by an old fashioned idea. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan it hasn't changed through the years.
A lightning rod is still just a copper stick that can direct lightning along a less damaging path. "I'm living proof, I have it on my house and I did get hit and we had very minimal damage." Joe Ousley with Bob Dooley Electric gets more calls to repair the damage than he does to prevent it from happening.
Even in Tulsa's most established and expensive neighborhoods, we couldn't find a single house that had lightning rods, but Tulsa has plenty of lightning strikes. Tulsa Fire Captain Larry Bowles: "Anytime you have a storm pass over a metro area like Tulsa, we'll have 3 or 4 major lightning strikes." And that's just the ones that hit houses that prompt a call to the fire department.
Two weeks ago a lightning strike started a fire that destroyed a million dollar home in south Tulsa. It was unoccupied so no one was hurt, but the home burned to the ground.
Wednesday morning the family in another Tulsa house heard a strike and woke up to a fire. They were not hurt, but their home has $15,000 of damage a lightning system might have prevented.
A lightning rod works by helping direct the electricity off and around a building - where the ground can safely absorb the powerful charge.
It doesn't stop a strike - but gives it an easy path to the ground. Joe Ousley: "It just takes it down the cable and protects it from going through the house and starting fires in the house."
Lightning rod systems are common on taller buildings, where the cost is more easily justified since it's more vulnerable and the potential for damage is greater. But even on half million-dollar homes - a lightning rod system can cost only a few thousand dollars and save much more.