Did you know lightning can produce temperatures five times greater than the sun? Lightning may be fascinating to watch, but don’t be misled. It’s extremely dangerous, unpredictable, and destructive.
One Massachusetts church experienced the power of lightning during a summer storm. A direct strike took down the 70-year-old steeple of the historic Medway Community church. A large portion of the church’s ceiling collapsed in the blaze, but the majority of the building was spared. Unfortunately, church plans to install lightning protection had not yet been implemented.
Even in an era when skyscrapers and cell towers overshadow the tallest church steeple, it’s crucial for churches to be intentional about lightning protection.
Not only can a single lightning strike sear church roofs and steeples, it can also ruin computers, sound systems, alarms, and other electronics. Consider the damage lightning can cause:
“Many times churches don’t realize they could be affected a great deal by lightning. We usually see churches install a device after they've been hit," says Brock Bell, senior manager, risk control, at Brotherhood Mutual. "That’s why we recommend churches invest in a lightning protection system, but sooner rather than later. It almost entirely removes the risk.”
When it comes to lightning protection, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Installers design a protection system unique to each building, based on lightning frequency, the size of the structure and its contents.
To ensure that your lightning protection system meets safety standards, hire a professional electrical contractor to install it. The Lightning Protection Institute can help you locate a qualified installer in your area.
After you have a system, it’s important to maintain it. Stay on top of the installer’s recommendations for inspections to keep your equipment up to date. As with any electrical system, regular inspections will help you get the most out of your investment.
Not only can lightning harness incredible temperatures, but it also packs a lot of power. One lightning strike can carry enough electricity to power 10 million homes for one month. Plus, it’s fast. The average lightning bolt can span 3,700 miles in one second. That’s more than the distance from New York to California.
Lightning is far more likely to damage your ministry’s electrical equipment than cause a fire, and it doesn’t have to strike your building to wreak havoc. It can travel through a nearby power source into the building. With the use of technology so widespread, this is a significant concern during storm season.
Two things commonly result when lightning hits a power source:
While ordinary circuits and fuses are not able to handle the effects of a lightning strike, a good surge protector is designed to protect your technological investments. A surge protector directs excess power away from electronics and regulates power in the case of a brownout.
If you experience damage to your equipment because of lightning, contact an electrician to prevent any further problems and your insurance agent to report any claims.
Lightning causes about 80 church fires a year, and the property damage is covered as by most basic insurance policies. But, your ministry may wish to consider additional coverage to help pay for repairs or replace equipment that may be damaged by electrical surges or mechanical failures not caused by lightning.
Brotherhood Mutual offers Equipment Breakdown Coverage for such items as:
Talk to your Brotherhood Mutual agent to learn more about this unique insurance protection. Need an agent? Find one here.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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