Lightning Rods Could Save Homes From Dangers of a Strike

We've all seen the destruction severe storms can cause in North Texas with tornadoes, but there is another threat many people do not think about: lightning.

Lightning kills about 50 people each year in the United States and injures many more. It can also spark fires that destroy homes.

One North Texas family decided to take action against the lightning threat.

Scott and Susan Florence moved from Utah years ago and were in awe of Texas' lightning displays.

"The first few lightning storms that we had here we were like, 'These are awesome!' They were like fireworks shows for us. We'd come out here and think they were the coolest things ever – and they are cool – but we didn't realize how destructive they are," Susan Florence said.

They saw the destruction first hand when their friends' home was destroyed by a fire caused by a lightning strike.

"What's interesting was my friend whose home burned down, she didn't know her house was on fire. She heard a crack, and she thought something had happened. But she was walking around the house thinking maybe her televisions had blown out. And she looked up on the roof of her house, and there were embers on her attic door," Susan Florence said.

"There's no smoke detectors that go off when your roof's on fire. And it, literally, it didn't burn down her home, because she's got bricks, but it did unbelievable damage to her home," she added.

After that, and also hearing about other lightning fires, the Florences knew they would be getting lightning rods installed on their home.

"I was watching the news, and there were like five homes in Trophy Club that burned down, and I'm like, 'OK, done, we're getting them,'" Susan Florence said.

Lightning rods serve to create an invisible cage around the house, protecting it from lightning strikes.

"There's actually seven lightning rods, and they all tie into the copper cable that comes down to four specific places, and then that ties into rods that go 12 ft into the ground," explained Scott Florence.

The combination of the lightning rods and a tornado shelter give the Florences a sense of peace and security during storms.

"It's funny, because some of my friends tease me about my lightning rods and my storm shelter, but it's just, I've always liked the story of the Three Pigs, you know. It resonates with me. The pig that had the safest house was the one that didn't have to worry, you know. I'm not afraid of the big, bad wolf, let's just put it that way," Susan Florence said.

Some notes about lightning protection systems:

  • One expert says if properly installed, those systems are 99-percent effective.
  • The cost of installation depends on the size of your home and your roof line, but for a 2,000-square-foot home the cost could start around $4,000.
  • Some insurance companies offer discounts for installing lightning protection.
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