Five lightning strikes were reported to the Coweta County Emergency Management Agency during the storms on Wednesday night.
“We had a lot of lightning strike calls last night,” said Newnan Fire Chief Stephen Brown. “The lightning triggered off alarms, and there was one where a cable line was hit outside the house.”
Brown said the lightning strikes didn’t spark any fires, although the lightning did cause minor damage to a chimney. Often lightning will only damage the house or the electrical system.
“It doesn’t always cause a fire, but it can do a lot of damage either way,” said Jay Jones, director of EMA.
According to Brown, a home cannot be lightning-proofed. He suggested during a storm that appliances should be unplugged and to avoid taking a shower or bath, as the electricity can travel through plumbing.
“The lightning is going to enter somewhere and exit somewhere,” he said. “If it hits something, you don’t want to damage your appliances. That’s why it’s good to have surge protectors on computers and televisions, but a lot of people just unplug them.”
If citizens want to take some precautions for their home, Jones said they could work with their local utility to make sure their house is properly grounded.
“They do offer some incentives for grounding your appliances,” he said. “They have surge protection devices that they offer. If lightning hits the right place at the right time, it can take out anything. There’s no fool-proof anything but there’s a lot you can do to minimize the damage.”
According to Jones, from 1959-2011 Georgia ranked 13th in lightning deaths.
“As the population increases and there are more people outdoors, there are more opportunities for people to be outside,” Jones said. “So if you do hear thunder, that means lightning has already popped one time. It’s a dangerous thing, but it's a naturally occurring thing that we have to respect and take precaution when storms come.”
Brown said residents should pay attention to weather alerts during storms and to be aware of their surroundings.
Both men recommended getting inside a safe structure in the event of a storm.
“Not a little shed or tent or under a tree,” Jones said. “Get inside a big structure if you can. It doesn’t prevent lightning from hitting you, but there’s a whole lot less of a chance of something happening.”