Lightning Damage: Is it a Concern For Your Business?
December 22nd, 2023
Last updated: December 22nd, 2023
In the blink of an eye, a bolt of lightning can strike, bringing with it the potential for significant damage to your business. While it may seem like a rare occurrence, the impact of lightning strikes can be devastating, leading to financial losses and operational disruptions.
Particularly high buildings can be more of a risk, as you may expect, and every year the UK is faced with 200,000 or more lightning strikes, each having the potential to cause damage.
In this blog post, we will explore the various ways lightning can cause damage, the types of damage it inflicts, whether UK laws mandate lightning protection, and how implementing lightning protection measures can safeguard your business.
How Lightning Causes Damage
Lightning is a powerful force of nature, and when it strikes, it can unleash a destructive energy that wreaks havoc on buildings, electrical systems, and electronic equipment. The primary causes of damage include:
Direct Strikes: When lightning directly hits a structure, it can cause immediate and severe damage. The intense heat generated by the lightning can lead to fires, structural damage, and even the collapse of buildings.
Surges and Indirect Strikes: Even if lightning doesn’t strike a building directly, the electromagnetic field it produces can induce electrical surges in nearby power lines and utility systems. These surges can travel through electrical wiring, damaging connected devices and equipment.
Ground Currents: Lightning that strikes the ground can travel through the earth, affecting utility lines and conductive materials. This can lead to damage to electrical and communication systems, posing a threat to the functionality of your business operations.
Potential Damage Caused by Lightning
he damage caused by lightning can manifest in various ways, impacting both the physical structure and the electronic infrastructure of a business. Common types of damage include:
- Fire Damage: The intense heat produced by a lightning strike can ignite flammable materials, leading to fires that can quickly spread and cause extensive damage. Mitigation can require fire protection methods in your building.
- Structural Damage: Lightning can cause structural damage by physically striking buildings or inducing shock waves that weaken the integrity of structures.
- Electrical System Damage: Surges caused by lightning can overload electrical systems, damaging wiring, transformers, and other components. This can result in power outages and the need for costly repairs.
- Electronic Equipment Damage: Sensitivity to electrical surges makes electronic devices susceptible to lightning-induced damage. Computers, servers, and other essential equipment may be rendered inoperable, leading to data loss and productivity issues. Regular PAT testing can help you to see if your electronic equipment is still fit for use.
Implementing Lightning Protection
While not legally required, investing in lightning protection for your business is a proactive measure that can mitigate the risks associated with lightning strikes. Here are some key considerations:
- Risk Assessment: Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify vulnerable areas of your business, such as tall structures, critical electronic equipment, and communication systems.
- Lightning Protection Systems: Install lightning protection systems that include lightning rods, conductors, and grounding systems. These systems are designed to safely direct the electrical energy from a lightning strike into the ground, reducing the risk of damage.
- Surge Protection Devices: Install surge protection devices to safeguard electronic equipment from the damaging effects of power surges induced by lightning. These devices act as a barrier, diverting excess electrical energy away from sensitive equipment.
- Regular Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain your lightning protection system to ensure its effectiveness. Address any issues promptly to prevent potential vulnerabilities.
UK Laws and Lightning Protection
In the United Kingdom, there are no specific laws that mandate lightning protection for commercial or residential buildings. However, compliance with British and European standards, such as BS EN 62305, is highly recommended. These standards provide guidelines for the design, installation, and maintenance of lightning protection systems to minimise the risk of damage caused by lightning strikes.
If you’re looking for professional lightning protection services for your commercial building, you’re in the right place.