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This week marks Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Though disasters like hurricanes tend to get more attention during the summer months, it’s important to know how to stay safe from lightning. That’s because lightning presents serious dangers to both people and property.
Lightning safety and people
Lightning can occur during any time of the year, but lightning casualties are highest during summer. July is generally the month with the most lightning. Lightning strikes often occur in the afternoon. Two-thirds of all lightning casualties occur between noon and 6 p.m. According to the National Weather Service, here are some more interesting facts:
- Males are five times more likely than females to be struck by lightning; around 85 percent of lightning fatalities are men.
- People aged 15 to 34 account for almost half of all lightning strike victims (41 percent).
- About one-third (32 percent) of lightning injuries occur indoors.
Lightning safety and property
From 2007 to 2011, local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires. Fires in nonresidential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties, accounted for 7 percent. Vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 73 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.
How to avoid lightning
There are important things to know when it comes to how to avoid lightning. Once you hear that first clap of thunder, remember to:
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Heed the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Get inside a home, building or automobiles with a hard top (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
- Unplug any electronic equipment before the storm arrives.
You are not safe anywhere outside. Run to a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning or observe dark threatening clouds developing overhead. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. Do not shelter under trees.
If it’s not possible to get indoors or in a vehicle, these actions may reduce your chances of being struck by lightning:
- Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
- Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
- If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lightning.
- Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes) and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.
- The vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. It is crucial to listen to weather information when you are boating. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, do not go out. If you are out and cannot get back to land and safety, drop an anchor and get as low as possible. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels, are relatively safe. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces. Stay off the radio unless it is an emergency.
When it comes to how to avoid lightning, you should also take precautions once you’re indoors:
- Avoid contact with corded phones.
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
- Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes or do laundry.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
- Unplug electrical equipment
It’s important to prepare for natural and weather disasters. It’s also important to make sure you’re covered if something happens to your vehicle or home during a storm. Connect with the Scott Lynch Agency to make sure you have the coverage that’s right for you.
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Your days are long and your to-do list is even longer. Owning a business is more than your full-time job, it’s your life. We understand the day-to-day want to help make things easier for you. That’s why our business insurance is as flexible and hard working as you are.
Why ERIE’s business insurance, coverage can be customized to fit your exact needs. Our expert, independent agents understand your business and are aware of the specific risks you face and our claims team is always available when your need us.
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With all the buzz around the new season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, what if a literal zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow? While it’s highly unlikely that zombies will really take over, it’s good to know that insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong, like a telephone pole falling on your house or your TV getting fried by an electrical surge.
*Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Deductibles may apply. See your policy for details or talk to your ERIE Agent.
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You probably know your monthly bills can impact your credit, as late payments or accounts in collections can land on your credit report and bring down your credit score. But are you aware your credit score can affect the payment amount on a number of your monthly bills?
Here are seven monthly bills with payments your credit score can determine.
1. Rent payments
When you apply for a lease, your landlord might request a background check that includes your credit report. They can’t run a background check without your permission, although refusing may prevent you from moving forward with the lease.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the landlord can take adverse action if they find red flags in your credit report. This action could include denying your rental application or raising your rent higher than they would charge another applicant. The good news is they are legally required to give you written notice if they take adverse action, provide you the report they used (if you request it within 60 days) and give you the chance to dispute the information.
2. Credit cards
Consumers with good credit tend to qualify for much lower credit card interest rates than those with poor credit. Interest is applied to your credit card balance each month unless you pay it off in full within the monthly grace period. (You can go here to learn more about how credit card interest is calculated.) If you tend to carry a balance month to month, your poor credit could be costing you extra in interest.
Your mortgage payment is also directly affected by your credit. Mortgage lenders consider you a riskier borrower if you have a lower credit score. To hedge against that risk, they will charge you a higher interest rate.
4. Auto loans
Credit scores impact the interest rate lenders offer when you apply for an auto loan. While interest rates vary between lenders, having excellent credit generally results in lower interest and a lower monthly payment. Those 0% financing offers you see on car commercials usually require excellent credit.
Your credit score doesn’t generally affect federal loan payments, but if you plan on financing your education through private loans, lenders can use your credit score to determine your interest rate and fees. The worse your credit, the more interest you’ll pay on the loan.
6. Auto insurance
According to The Zebra’s State of Auto Insurance Report, there’s a correlation between credit and car insurance rates. On a national level, drivers with poor credit can pay more than twice as much as those with excellent credit for insurance. Some states have banned insurance providers from using credit scores to determine rates, but it’s a common practice in the states that allow it.
7. Homeowners insurance
Insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to determine what you’ll pay for homeowners insurance. These scores are industry-specific and aren’t exactly the same as your credit score, but they use the information in your credit report to determine your score. The same negative marks that bring down your credit score can impact your insurance score, and affect your payment.
Given your credit’s affect on nearly every bill in your mailbox (among other things, of course), it’s important to regularly monitor your credit for errors (you can go here to learn how to dispute those), identity theft or legitimate negative items that are affecting your score. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report snapshot every month on Credit.com. You can generally improve your bad credit by paying down high credit card balances, shoring up accounts in delinquency and limiting new credit inquiries while your credit score rebounds.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.
Brian Acton is a freelance writer and contributor at Credit.com. Several years ago, as he worked to pay down debt and purchase a home, Brian became interested in personal finance and credit. He has been covering these topics ever since. Brian has a BA in History from Salisbury University and an MBA from UMUC. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two dogs. More by Brian Acton