Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
Small surge protector not enough
NOTHING gets my attention like a flash of lightning.
I spent part of my childhood in Oklahoma, and remember ducking into tornado shelters quite a few times—and even seeing funnel clouds coming. They never touched down near us.
But a bolt of lightning doesn’t give you time to duck.
We live in the area of Spotsylvania County struck by last week’s microburst. We were lucky. A couple of trees were downed, and they were blown away from the house.
My family had been coming home from dinner when the storm became intense. We pulled into the driveway and my wife and two sons raced into the house. My mother-in-law uses a walker, and I didn’t want her
to take a chance on falling—or worse, being struck by lightning—so we waited the storm out in the car together.
All I could think about was being shielded from lightning. Trees were bending nearly to the ground around us and snapping back, but the wind and hail didn’t bother me. I put my head down and started checking my email on my phone, seeming to remain calm, even though I think my mother-in-law had reached the point where she was ready to toss the walker and run an NFL-cornerback-speed 40-yard dash to the door.
I was saying a quiet prayer that if lightning struck the car, it would protect us. That primal fear blocked concerns about the possibility of trees or flying cows dropping on top of us.
So you’d think that I’ve taken proper precautions to protect our home from lightning.
But after the intense electrical storm that accompanied last week’s microburst, I realized that I, like some others, have been lulled into a false sense of security by plugging expensive computers and big-screen HDTVs into inexpensive surge protectors that may help protect against a fluctuation, but will probably make little difference in the event of a lightning strike.
Consumer Reports recommends installing a whole-house surge protector that covers everything—telephone, electrical, satellite and cable lines. Not counting installation, this will cost $100 to $300, and is well worth it. It also recommends that all lines enter the house close to the electrical service entrance ground wire—within 10 feet.
And don’t skimp on home insurance. A good policy will protect you from both lightning bolts and flying-cow impacts—at least financially.
Michael Zitz: 540/846-5162