Deadly Weather in 2011 Fuels Demand for Technologies to Limit Nature's Destructive Force

Lightning Protection Systems Hailed as Affordable Way to Minimize Damage

HARTFORD, Conn., Oct. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL today, disaster safety leaders and weather experts described the staggering economic, human and structural impact of severe weather over the past year. Conference delegates discussed the impact of severe disasters on families and communities, strategies to enhance mitigation and adoption, and consumer communications, as well as cutting edge advances in technology. Lightning is a significant component of the destruction, causing approximately one billion dollars in damage each year with 26 deaths and many more injuries to date in 2011.

Through August of 2011, according to information provided by WeatherPredict Consulting, severe weather events in the U.S. claimed over 600 lives, one of the deadliest periods in years. The largest toll came from devastating tornadoes that struck the Southeast and Central United States earlier this year killing hundreds. Other fatalities were caused by Hurricane Irene, which claimed 45 lives. Major floods, wildfires and severe winter storms also added to the death toll. WeatherPredict is a U.S. affiliate of RenaissanceRe, a leading global property catastrophe reinsurance company. One of WeatherPredict's primary roles is bringing intelligence to the risk managers dealing with natural catastrophes.

"In the context of historical natural catastrophes, 2011 continues to be a particularly challenging year, with significantly high human loss and property destruction," said Craig W. Tillman, president of WeatherPredict Consulting Inc., and a lead presenter at the FLASH conference. Tillman called lightning an often underrated threat that deserves more attention from property owners. "Since lightning strikes are so common, the technologies available to protect property from severe lightning damage are often overlooked," said Tillman.

"As FLASH brings our partners in disaster safety and weather together for our annual meeting, it's a good opportunity to remind property owners about the solutions available to minimize the impact of severe weather," said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. "Lightning protection technology continues to be an excellent solution to limit lightning's destructive force."

Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), applauded Henderson for the contributions FLASH continues to make in enhancing disaster safety in America. "Once again, FLASH has achieved great success through its annual meeting in fostering collaboration between leading experts in disaster safety, property loss mitigation and severe weather outcomes," said VanSickle.

VanSickle said property owners considering an investment in lightning protection should be sure to contract with qualified and experienced specialists who are trained to install systems in accordance with the nationally recognized safety standards of NFPA, LPI and UL.

Lightning strikes cost more than $1 billion in insured losses in 2010—a significant increase from 2009, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. found there were more than 213,000 lightning claims in 2010, up nearly 15 percent from 2009. These losses ranged from damage to expensive electronic equipment to structural fires that destroyed entire homes and caused serious injury or death. Insured catastrophe losses in the U.S. totaled $17.8 billion during the first half of 2011, according to insurer MunichRe, underscoring the importance of investments to minimize property damage due to natural disasters.

The Lightning Protection Institute is a not-for-profit nationwide group founded in 1955 to promote lightning safety, awareness and education and is a leading resource for lightning protection information and system requirements. LPI certifies individuals for the installation of lightning protection systems through a Master Installer testing program to qualify competence. LPI recently introduced a third-party inspection program for installation quality assurance. Information about follow-up inspection services can be found at www.lpi-ip.com. For a list of certified contractors and other information about national safety standards for lightning protection installation, visit the LPI website at www.lightning.org.


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