Farm Bureau Financial Services offers tips to help you stay safe

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (June 20, 2012) —Lightning is the No. 2 weather-related killer in the U.S. according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Striking the earth an estimated 25 million times each year, lighting causes $4 to $5 billion in damage annually. To help you stay safe when severe weather strikes, Farm Bureau Financial Services offers these tips.

Play it safe
Lightning may strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall, so don't wait for rain before suspending outdoor activities. If you hear thunder, you’re within striking distance and should seek shelter inside. Wait 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder before resuming activity outside.

Find shelter
If lightning threatens when you are outside, find shelter in a substantial building or fully enclosed vehicle. While picnic shelters and trees may shield you from rain, they offer no protection from lightning. If shelter is unavailable, avoid the most common areas where lighting strikes—water, high open ground and metal, such as fences and machinery.

Don’t be fooled
Being indoors doesn’t guarantee your safety. Lightning may strike the building’s exterior, sending current along electric and phone lines as well as metal pipes. To avoid shocks, avoid plumbing fixtures and water, stay off landline phones and don’t touch plugged-in appliances, computers or power tools.

Be aware of secondary dangers
Lightning can also trigger wildfires. The U.S. Forest Service currently reports 20 active blazes across the country and expects to continue to see a significant number of wildfires throughout the remainder of the year. If you live in an area prone to wildfire, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends raking leaves, removing dead branches, pruning limbs and clearing flammable vegetation to create a 30- to 100-foot safety zone around your home.

Lightning and fire can cause significant damage to your home and property. To ensure coverage should disaster happen, prepare an up-to-date list of your home's contents and take the time to review your homeowner's insurance policy to make sure coverage is adequate. Check out our lightning awareness video for additional tips on staying safe in the storm.