Surge protectors hang on the shelves in the electronics department at the Kmart in Lakeshore Mall on Thursday. Surge protectors can save household electronics during lightning storms. RYAN PELHAM/STAFF
It's not unusual for people to call ABC Appliance and Television in Sebring, saying their appliances were damaged from a power surge during a storm. "We get those calls more often when it is storm season," said Karen Price, whose husband owns the business. That's not surprising, she said. "Florida is the leading state with thunderstorms and lightning strikes," she said.
ABC offers its customers a plan to cover such damages, she said. Duke Energy suggests that customers use surge protectors and unplug and not use electrical appliances during storms, said Sterling Ivey, a spokesman. Ivey particularly advised that customers shut off window air condition units, as well as central air conditioning. Duke Energy offers outside surge protection, but says that doesn't guarantee that no appliances will be damaged during a storm. Lightning also presents a danger to people. "If you hear thunder, go inside," said Scott Canady, director of emergency management for Highlands County. The idea that a person is safe because there's a delay between the thunder and the lightning isn't true, he said. "If you can hear it, it's close enough to strike you," he said. Canady said he doesn't know how often someone gets hit by lightning in Highlands County, but he's only heard of one case involving a death. A fisherman died about two years ago after being hit by lightning, he said. The National Lighting Safety Institute also offers tips on how to avoid danger. Those include: Plan in advance evacuation and safety measures when outdoors. Head toward a vehicle or a building when you hear thunder. Avoid water, high ground open spaces, metal objects, including electric wires, fences, machinery, power tools and don't go under canopies, small picnic or rain shelters or go near trees. If no shelter is available, crouch down and put feet together. Stay at least 15 feet from other people. If you're indoors, avoid water and stay away from doors and windows. Don't use the telephone and take off head sets. firstname.lastname@example.org (863) 386-5834