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Colorado Lightning Risks Hit Close to Home

Lightning Preparedness Makes the Difference in Protecting Property

Colorado is an amazing place to live, but it also includes its share of weather related risks. Lightning is one of them, and it is easy to overlook. The United States averages 20 million bolts of lightning every year, and Colorado accounts for an average of 500,000 bolts every year.

Those half a million bolts rank Colorado as nineteenth in the nation in cloud-to-ground lightning flashes. No matter where you work, you are not immune to the effects of lightning. Parks monitor storms and lightning constantly to make sure that their recreation activities can continue without getting anyone hurt.

Every district should be protecting their buildings from potential lighting strikes. In 2019 alone, the CSD Pool received 13 claims due to lighting strikes, accounting for roughly $150,000 in property damage.

Have you looked into lightning protection equipment for your building? Lightning does not prioritize who it hits based on our perceptions of value. It hits the highest, pointiest, most isolated object around. That makes lift stations, communication towers, buildings, trees that caused damage to buildings, and treatment plants prime targets.

It’s not just the lightning that causes damage but the aftermath of that damage. One bolt of lightning damaged a lift station that caused damage to electronics, controls, and equipment, which then caused a sewer backup into four homes. At this point, the total cost of the claim has yet to be completely known.

Our recommendation to help mitigate some of the potential damage caused by lightning strikes is to investigate how a lightning protection system might help your buildings become more resilient to strikes.

There are three components to a lightning protection system:

  1. Rods are small vertical protrusions that act as a terminal for lightning discharge.
  2. Conductor Cables help carry the lightning’s current from the rod on the roof to the ground rod.
  3. Ground Rods are heavy rods buried deep in the earth around a protected structure. These grounding rods help discharge the lightning strike around the building.

When these three components are used together, they can help divert electrical current around the building instead of having the building take all of the current directly. This helps to reduce the chance of fire, damage to building materials, and damage to appliances or equipment.

Lightning protection systems are not perfect, but they can definitely help reduce the damage by ensuring the safety of the building and everyone inside. On buildings without lightning protection, the lightning may utilize another conductor such as phone lines, pipes, or electrical lines.

In Colorado, there are many organizations available to help you determine if your building is at risk for lightning. If you would like to know more about lightning protection systems for one of your buildings, we would be happy to help point you in the right direction.

With the Pool’s Safety and Loss Prevention Grant, we will reimburse 50% of the cost, where the district has sufficient funds.

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