By Amalia Kortright, For The Tribune
BIRMINGHAM — As of 2015, the state of Alabama ranked 4th in the nation for lightning related insurance claims. However, data gathered by State Farm has indicated that lightning related insurance claims are steadily decreasing in the state.
State Farm reported paying out million for 1,264 lightning claims across the state in 2015. The average cost per claim was around ,200. The neighboring state of Georgia ranked first.
In previous years, Alabama ranked 2nd for lightning related insurance claims. According to State Farm reports, lightning-related accidents, injuries and fatalities occur most frequently during June, July and August.
“Despite this, there are ways to reduce your chances of striking out with a lightning loss,” said State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson.
State Farm encourages people to stay safe during lightning storms by immediately seeking shelter inside a fully enclosed building when there is lightning outside. Anyone caught outdoors should seek a place with lower elevation to avoid being struck. However, people should never seek shelter under a tree.
People are also encouraged to avoid lakes, beaches and any type of open water. Fishing from a boat or a dock and riding on farm equipment, golf carts and bicycles are also extremely hazardous during a lightning storm.
Anyone inside during a thunderstorm is urged to avoid using any phone with a wire, TVs and any other electronic devices. To stay safe indoors, avoid standing near metal piping and doorways or windows that lead outside.
Surge protectors are the best way to protect a home or business from damage or fires caused by lightning strikes, as long as they are designed and installed within accepted industry standards. Lightning protection systems neither attract nor repel lightning. Instead, they receive the lightning strike and direct it into the ground, which discharges its electrical current.
People should also install extra protection for important or expensive electronic devices. People should also make sure that all electronic equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled.