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Key Agent Newsletter
Summer 2017

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IN THIS ISSUE:

. Planning Ahead For Hurricane Season
. Lightning Damage: Identify It, Respond To It, Prevent It
. Insurance Requirements for Contractors and Tenants
     
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Lightning Damage:
Identify It, Respond To It, Prevent It

By Mikey Minor

HailSince the dawn of time, man has been fascinated by the power of lightning – and how it affects his self-storage facilities. Technology has made running and securing self-storage facilities much easier, but a lightning strike can still have a severe impact on business operations if it fries the necessary technological systems.

Lightning can measure millions of volts and contain billions of watts, discharging near the edge of a cloud or more than 10 miles away from a storm system. That means you and your self-storage property don't have to be directly below a thunderstorm to be struck, although the property has a much better chance of being hit by lightning than you do thanks to factors like size, height, and materials.

Lightning can damage self-storage facilities in two ways: a direct strike or a nearby strike. It's a falsehood that only direct strikes can cause damage to electrical systems. Nearby strikes can travel through conductors or cause electromagnetic fields, affecting the systems necessary to operate a self-storage facility.

There are some relatively inexpensive ways to prevent and minimize potential damage to your self-storage facility before lightning strikes. Lightning protection systems can be bonded to the metal of outdoor installations, and well-coordinated surge-protective devices can reduce failures of electrical systems. Most simply, you can unplug all non-necessary items, such as copiers and that phone in the back room no one ever uses, when you know that storms will be in the area. You won't be able to unplug everything, but even disconnecting a few things will help minimize potential damage.

Once storms have passed through the area, inspect your technological systems for lightning damage. Commonly affected equipment at a self-storage facility includes:

Gates
Don't open or close, dead or scrambled keypads

Lights
Don't come on at night, stay on all day even with light sensors

Surveillance and Communication Systems
Functioning incorrectly or not at all, dead cameras, dead DVRs, dead or static phone lines

Fire Alarms
Signaling false alarms, dead panels or circuits

If you notice any of the types of damage listed above, first and foremost proceed with caution. Interacting with damaged equipment can be dangerous. Once it is safe following the storm, inventory and test your equipment. If something isn't operating correctly, contact a licensed vendor to evaluate it for repair and obtain quotes for the work. It takes an expert eye to correctly diagnose lightning damage, and you will need all this documentation if you submit a claim to your insurance company.


Mikey Minor is the director of consulting and lead consulting engineer at TechLoss Consulting & Restoration Inc. TechLoss works with insurers on claims involving technological systems and offers data and restoration services to everyone. For more information, visit www.techloss.com.


 

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