• Georgia No. 1 for lightning-fire claims

    By: Katie Walls

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - For the third year in a row Georgians have filed more claims for lightning-related fires than any other state, according to State Farm.
     
    The insurance company told Severe Weather Team 2’s Katie Walls they paid out more than $16 million to Georgia residents for those lightning-related claims in 2014 alone.
     
    Reagan Cortes, owner of Labeled Lightning Protection, Inc. in Norcross, says each of those fires could’ve been prevented with a lightning protection system.
     
    “I think it’s just sad that this is the one force of Mother Nature that you can properly protect yourself from with a properly installed lightning protection system,” Cortes says.
     
    Cortes is a second generation lightning protection specialist certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
     
    City of Atlanta is Minority Certified as a female business owner, Cortes has installed lightning protection systems at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Georgia State University and Fort Benning.
     
    She says that her work is 95 percent commercial and only 5 percent residential.
     
    “Homeowners are interested once the neighbor next door or across the street got hit and burnt to the ground,” she explains. “It is preventable.”
     
    A negative strike carries 20 million volts. A positive strike can boast up to 1 billion volts, leading to serious electrical damage or worse yet, a fire.
     
    While you can’t prevent a strike, you can prevent damage from a strike with a lightning protection system.
     
    If your home is struck, the system provides a path down which lightning can travel safely away from your home.
     
    Small rods are placed along your home’s ridgelines, chimneys and dormers. A braided copper cable conducts the voltage along the roofline, down a path more than 10 feet into the ground, where the energy is dispersed away from your home.
     
    Lightning rods are no longer unsightly, but blend in with your home’s exterior. Cortes has tasteful finials atop her roof, disguising the rods.
     
    This is not a do-it-yourself project. An improperly installed system makes your home a fire hazard. Cortes suggests hiring a UL-listed installer.
     
    “You want UL to come out and do an inspection and make sure the system has been installed to current standards,” Cortes says.

    A lightning protection system is intended to last the lifetime of a home no matter how many times the structure is struck by lightning.


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