What You Need to Know About Lightning Safety

by Erie Insurance on 

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.

For Indiana Veterans – Achieve your Small Biz Dreams Webinar

Happy Small Business Week!  This For Veterans—Achieve Your Small Biz Dreams Webinar is just one of many events throughout Indiana in honor of Small Business Week.

National Small Business Week

SBA Indiana teams up with VetBiz Central to deliver information on a variety of programs, opportunities, and benefits for aspiring or established Vetrepreneurs.

Topics include:

  • SBA resources throughout the state
  • Financing options
  • SBA contracting programs
  • VetBiz Central’s unique services and programs for Veterans
  • VOSB/SDVOSB Verification
  • Supplier Diversity Program

WHEN:       May 1, 11 am

WHERE:     Online

COST:         Free

Registration is required.  Click or type www.vetbizcentral.org in your browser and sign up today!

This workshop brought to you through a partnership between Veterans Business Outreach Center VetBiz Central and the SBA.  Questions? Email Public Affairs Specialist Laura Schafsnitz at laura.schafsnitz@sba.gov.

Registration

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

SBA Indiana District Office

8500 Keystone Crossing, Suite 400
Indianapolis, IN  46240
317-226-7272
www.sba.gov/in

Insuring Your Small Business

Business Insurance Here!

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.

Get to Know Us                                                                                                                                       Since 1925, we’ve had our Home Office in the city that bears our name, Erie, Pennsylvania. Today, we’re spread across a 12-state footprint and the District of Columbia. Find out more about ERIE and what makes us different.

Ready to talk?                                                                                                                                        Give us a call or send us an email at protect@lynchagency.com to learn more about how we can help protect your business and everything you’ve worked to grow.

Scott Lynch Agency                                                                                                                        Tel: (317) 886-0081 or (317) 420-2867                                                                                                protect@lynchagency.com                                                                                                                    Website: Scott Lynch Agency

 

 

Looking for a great deal on insurance?

Looking for a great deal on Auto, Home, Business or Life Insurance? Call us at (317) 886-0081 to discuss our options for you. You may also visit our website: Scott Lynch Agency

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A Very Merry Mishap

To ensure that your family is properly protected this Holiday Season, call us at (317) 886-0081 or (317) 420-2867. You can also visit us online at: Lynch Insurance Agency

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Whatever your regrets in life, your insurance shouldn’t be one of them. Contact me for a no regrets quote from Erie Insurance today. Personalized Get a Quote or call (317) 420-2867.

Does alarm company’s ‘We are not an insurer’ language overcome negligence claim?

AUG 03, 2017 | BY STEVEN A. MEYEROWITZ, ESQ., DIRECTOR, FC&S LEGAL

This story is reprinted with permission from FC&&S Legal, the industry’s only comprehensive digital resource designed for insurance coverage law professionals. Visit the website to subscribe.

Most businesses and many homeowners have alarm systems that include continuous monitoring. And the customers of the alarm companies rely on the systems to give them warnings of intruders or other problems. But what happens when the alarm system malfunctions, the business owner’s property is stolen, and the insurance doesn’t cover the claim? Can the business owner recover from the alarm company for negligence or does the contract’s limitation of liability language prevail?

A communication ‘error’

Ivan and Krystyna Homola, the owners of EJ Jewelers, Inc., contracted with Protection One Alarm Monitoring Inc., d/b/a Protection 1 Security Solutions, to install a burglar alarm monitoring system and closed circuit television at their store. In May 2014, the Homolas contracted with the company for burglar monitoring services, the terms of which superseded all prior agreements (2014 Agreement).

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on March 20, 2016, the Homolas received a phone call from Protection One informing them that the jewelry store was experiencing a “communication error.” Ms. Homola directed Protection One to call the police.

An hour later, Ms. Homola “called Protection One to follow up and asked if everything was ok and if the store was protected.” Ms. Homola said that she was told that “everything was fine, the police came to the store, and the store was fully secured by the alarm.”

At 1:00 a.m. on March 21, 2016, the Homolas received a second call from Protection One at which time, they were informed “that the store was again experiencing a ‘communication error’ in a few zones” but that there was “no burglary, just a communication problem.”

Later that morning, Ms. Homola again contacted Protection One, and she was told that “everything [was] fine.”

The next day, March 22, 2016, the Homolas went to the store and discovered that it had been burglarized. Apparently, perpetrators had accessed the alarm system’s power supply, which was housed in the basement of a business adjacent to the jewelry store. After disrupting the power, the perpetrators allegedly waited for the “back-up” batteries in the store’s alarm system to dissipate. Like a scene in a movie, the thieves allegedly cut a hole through the roof and descended into the store, stealing more than $500,000 in jewelry.

That same day, the Homolas also learned “that the cameras supplied by Defendant Protection One … had not filmed at all, and the camera’s backup storage provided by Defendant Protection One was completely empty.”

The Homolas filed a claim with their insurance carrier, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, which had issued a policy covering losses up to $80,000. However, because the stolen merchandise had been “out of safe or vault while closed to business,” the insurance carrier paid only $5,000 on the claim.

The Homolas then sued Protection One for, among other things, breach of contract and gross negligence. Protection One moved to dismiss.

Protection One’s Limitation of Liability

The 2014 agreement provided:

(A)WE ARE NOT AN INSURER * * * OF YOUR PREMISES OR ITS CONTENTS; (B) IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN ADEQUATE INSURANCE COVERING YOU, YOUR PREMISES AND ITS CONTENTS * * *; (D) THE EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES MAY NOT ALWAYS OPERATE AS INTENDED FOR VARIOUS REASONS, INCLUDING OUR NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER FAULT. WE CANNOT PREDICT THE POTENTIAL AMOUNT, EXTENT OR SEVERITY OF ANY DAMAGES * * * THAT MAY BE INCURRED * * * DUE TO THE FAILURE OF THE EQUIPMENT OR SERVICES TO WORK AS INTENDED. AS SUCH: (I) YOU AGREE THAT THE LIMITS ON OUR LIABILITY AND THE WAIVERS AND INDEMNITIES SET FORTH IN THIS AGREEMENT ARE A FAIR ALLOCATION OF RISKS AND LIABILITIES BETWEEN YOU, US AND ANY AFFECTED THIRD PARTIES; (II) YOU WILL LOOK EXCLUSIVELY TO YOUR INSURER FOR FINANCIAL PROTECTION FROM SUCH RISKS AND LIABILITIES, AND (III) * * YOU WAIVE ALL RIGHTS AND REMEDIES AGAINST US, INCLUDING ALL RIGHTS OF SUBROGATION, THAT YOU, ANY INSURER, OR ANY OTHER THIRD PARTY MAY HAVE DUE TO ANY LOSSES YOU OR OTHERS MAY INCUR.

In addition, the 2014 Agreement provided:

Limitation of Liability for Alarm Failure Events. NEITHER WE NOR ANY PERSON OR ENTITY AFFILIATED WITH US SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSSES ARISING DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM ANY ALARM FAILURE EVENT.

WE ARE NOT LIABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE ADEQUACY OF THE EQUIPMENT DESIGN OR DESIGN CRITERIA ESTABLISHED BY YOU, YOUR DESIGN PROFESSIONAL, OR LOCAL CODE REQUIREMENTS, IF, NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF THIS PARAGRAPH 10(B), WE OR ANY PERSON OR ENTITY AFFILIATED WITH US ARE DETERMINED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY LOSSES ARISING FROM ANY ALARM FAILURE EVENT, YOUR CLAIMS AGAINST US AND/OR ANY PERSON OR ENTITY AFFILIATED WITH US SHALL BE LIMITED TO $2,000.00. THIS AMOUNT IS YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR ANY ALARM FAILURE EVENT, EVEN IF CAUSED BY PROTECTION ONE’S NEGLIGENCE OR THAT OF OUR AFFILIATES OR OUR RESPECTIVE EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS, BREACH OF CONTRACT, BREACH OF WARRANTY, STRICT LIABILITY, OR OTHER FAULT.

Further, the 2014 agreement defined alarm failure events as the “condition, nonfunctioning, malfunction, faulty design, faulty installation, or failure in any respect of the equipment or services to operate or perform as intended.”

A complete defense

The trial court granted Protection One’s motion.

In its decision, the trial court explained that the Homolas’ allegations sufficiently alleged conduct on the part of Protection One that, if true, might constitute “gross negligence.” The trial court reasoned that the Homolas alleged that, on two consecutive days, Protection One failed to alert the police and appropriate authorities after having been notified that the alarm system at the jewelry store was experiencing a “communication error”; in response to Ms. Homola’s call to follow up, Protection One responded that the jewelry store was fully alarmed and secured. In a second conversation, Protection One informed Ms. Homola that “there was no burglary, just a communication problem.”

The trial court then ruled that, notwithstanding any alleged gross negligence, the risk allocation/waiver of subrogation provision set forth in the 2014 agreement, which required the Homolas to obtain insurance for all losses occurring at the jewelry store and pursuant to which they waived any remedies against Protection One, functioned “as a complete defense” to the claims asserted by the Homolas against Protection One.

The case is Homola v. Jewelers Mutual Ins. Co.

Steven A. Meyerowitz, Esq., is the director of FC&S Legal, the editor-in-chief of the Insurance Coverage Law Report, and the founder and president of Meyerowitz Communications Inc. Email him at smeyerowitz@meyerowitzcommunications.com.

Original Article