How To Protect Your Home Or Office Technology During A Lightning Storm.

Am I safe using my Computer during a storm?

Unless you have very good surge protection equipment you should turn off and disconnect your Desktop PC from power, LAN and phone lines during a storm. Even with surge protectors it is still possible that your computer may be damaged. However if you have a battery backup or UPS for each machine, printers and faxes you will be fine for local connectivity only. This means by unplugging the connection shown below  you will be disconnecting your modem from your carrier ie. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon or others but your local land should be fine if connected properly.

Why is there still a risk with a surge protector? Lightning travels across kilometres of clear air! If you get a direct strike to your house or very close, a tiny surge protector is not going to stop it. In some cases even devices not plugged in have been damaged by induction from a direct lightning strike.

Can you get shocked via your Desktop Computer? The components of your computer you are likely to be touching are all plastic, so a shock is very unlikely. However if you are wearing headphones you could be at risk of either acoustic shock(loud noise produced from the earphones) or electric shock because the headphones put electrical components close to your head. Best to avoid headsets during storms including cell phone headsets.

Can I use a Laptop Computer during a storm?

Laptop computers are safe to use during a storm, however there are a few provisos to that. Firstly, disconnect your laptop from power. If you’re running from battery you’ll be safe. If you were connected to a Power outlet or Ethernet port you run the same risk as a Desktop Computer has during a storm.

Secondly, make sure that you don’t have any other cable connections to anywhere. For instance phone or LAN cables should be disconnected. Provided you’re running entirely disconnected you’ll be safe.

Last thought to think about with Laptops. If you’re running on Wifi to access your internet connection, your Wifi Modem or Router is at risk because it’s usually plugged into both a phone line and a power outlet. The same electrical surge that affects your computer can fry your Ethernet port. Now a modem is usually a lot less expensive to replace than a computer, but it’s still a risk and you will have downtime if a lighting strike were to hit your house or business. The number one reason for dead cable modems is lightning. Lightning will also do a pretty good job of frying phone connection lines that connect most MFU’s Multifunction Units i.e. printer/scanners with fax capabilities or plain fax machines.

Cable Modem disconnect these two connections.

Machine has to be plugged in to a UPS to be able to work locally, no internet during a bad storm where a lightning strikes are possible.

Disconnecting your main internet source will protect any devices connect to it including Computer, Smart TV’s ,printers as well as fax machines.

Basic small UPS for Lighting or surge protection, will also allow short term battery backup in emergency cases due to loss of home or office power.