COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Midlands woman says lightening from last weeks storms struck a tree and radiated to her home, causing several of her electronics to fail.
Lisa Pitts lives on Timberlane Drive in Columbia, near S. Beltline Blvd. She says she was inside her home on Thursday when she heard the lightning strike a tree outside her house.
Pitts said she thought the storm was far away until “It had been grumbling for about an hour and then all of a sudden I heard a loud bang,” Pitts said. “It really scared me and I wasn’t expecting it at all because I had lightning storms here before, and also I don’t dare it or anything like that I’m very respectful with lightening but it really scared me.”
She goes on to say she then smelled smoke, and immediately called 911.
Pitts says some of her outlets were smoking, two of her tv’s were fried from the damage, and she even found a hole in her bedroom wall.
James Legrand, owner of Electric Alternatives LLC in Lugoff said, “I’ve always heard there’s enough volts in one lightning strike to light up New York City.”
That’s why Legrand, who’s been an electrician for decades, says it’s important to unplug electronics during a lightning storm.
“What lightning likes to do, it likes to come in the area of the house where it’s the least resistance, in computers and phones, and tv’s,” Legrand said. “The number one suggestion would be to turn the power going off to all of your tv’s, your computers, your phones, and even refrigerators.”
Besides flipping the power switch, Legrand says there are preventative measures homeowners can take.
Legrand says grounding electrodes, which connect to a home or buildings electrical system, can help divert potentially dangerous electrical currents.
“The more electrodes you have in the yards the least likeability you’ll have lightning strikes,” Legrand said.
Another measure he said is getting a surge protector to put inside your breaker box.
“So when lightning comes in, it will attach to that [surge protector] first without going through your circuits and destroying appliances tv’s, microwaves, phones,” Legrand said.
If you experience lightning damage similar to Lisa Pitts', Legrand says don’t try to fix the damage yourself.
“Do not touch it. Leave that up to the professionals,” Legrand said.
Pitts says she is hopeful her experience will serve as an example to others to be aware of lightning power and danger.
Experts say if your home is hit by lightning to call 911 even if you do not detect a fire hazard.
Once the fire department assesses the area for damage, experts recommend calling an electrician to come out and inspect home wiring.