Whenever we see a tree damaged by lightening, it makes us wonder about the potential for danger on our own property. Fortunately, lightning protection is fairly easy to install, and dramatically reduces the risk to the tree and your property.
There are 25 million lightning strikes in the U.S. each year. There’s no way to determine how many strike trees, but it is estimated in the tens of thousands. Anyone who hikes in our area only needs to look carefully at the tall trees to see signs of lightning damage.
As we all know, lightning is attracted to tall objects — a category that certainly includes trees. Some species of trees are more vulnerable to lightning strikes than others (oak, elm, maple, poplar, ash, spruce, pine and tulip tree are species more likely to be hit than, for example, beech or birch), but none are immune.
Lightning can damage or kill an otherwise healthy tree. It can also jump from a nearby tree to enter your home through wires or pipes – the same way as if your house had been hit directly. The National Fire Protection Association says in its Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems:
Trees with trunks within 10 ft. of a structure or with branches that extend to a height above the structure should be equipped with a lightning protection system because of the danger of a side-flash, fire or superheating of the moisture in the tree, which could result in the splintering of the tree. It might be desirable to equip other trees with a lightning protection system because of a particular tree’s value to the owner.
Source: NFPA 780
Protecting special trees and trees close to your home will keep your property safer and increase your peace of mind. We install lightning rods that are inconspicuous, safe for the tree and able to accommodate tree growth for many years. If a tree is hit by lightning, the lightning cables are designed to channel the current away from the tree (and any buildings) and into the ground where it can safely dissipate.
— Ken Almstead, CEO