One of the most significant dangers to our electronic devices during thunderstorms is from power surges caused by nearby lightning strikes. Power surges can turn equipment, which worked fine before the storm, inoperable by overloading the circuits built within the machine with more electricity than it was designed to handle.
The most sure-fire way to protect electronic equipment from a power surge is to simply unplug them during aggressive thunderstorms. The surges cannot reach the equipment if they are not connected to a power source.
It is also wise to unplug nearby telephone lines and cables, as surges frequently occur from those sources. Devices with a circuit board, such as a computer or television, are most at risk of a power surge. Do not try to unplug your devices during particularly violent storms as you are at risk of being electrocuted.
Surge protectors are a great way to protect valuable electronics, as unplugging the equipment is not always an option. A surge protector will absorb the power surge and stop the charge from reaching the equipment. Power surges are often packaged within power strips, which offer multiple outlets to plug devices into, but there are also many strips that do not offer surge protection.
Therefore, make sure to carefully read the label of the power strip before purchase; be sure to look for some sort of guarantee or insurance that promises to protect your appliances. A good surge protector should protect the appliance from lightning strikes, but not all do.
Some of the newest surge protectors also have telephone and cable sockets. Contrary to popular belief, only about 30 percent of power surges come through a power cord. The rest travel through telephone and cable lines, so be sure not to overlook this detail when shopping.
One typical sign of appliance is a smoky or burning smell in the room. This can often come from the individual equipment the power surge hit, or from the cable or cord the surge traveled from. Before you check the equipment you feel might have been hit with a surge, make sure to unplug it first. Equipment such as computers can often hold electronic charges which can shock you or cause a fire. Look for smoke and burn marks on the equipment as well.
Most lightning strikes occur at the beginning or end of storms. The voltage of a single lightning strike can measure over 300 million volts.