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Quick as a flash, I learnt vital lesson as lightning struck

I'LL never again be blase about the dangers of storms and lightning.

From now on, I'll follow to the letter any warnings broadcast by emergency services during storm alerts.

Almost two months after a direct lightning strike on my family home, we're still "picking up the pieces" and discovering damage that had gone unnoticed.

The drama began on November 17 when a "super cell" storm hovered over Brisbane and Ipswich.

Torrential rain and heavy thunder preceded the actual strike, which created a dramatic fireworks display on our back veranda.

If you've seen wizards working terror-inducing magic with their wands in movies, you'll have an idea of the special effects that accompanied this particular lightning strike.

The damages bill ran into thousands, and is growing.

Half of the powerpoints in the house had to be repaired, along with the TV, computer and metres of electrical wiring.

The lightning's powerful sting is also likely responsible for the death of a large gum tree.

Lightning is known to spark grassfires, ignite ceiling blazes and, more tragically, kill people.

After my firsthand experience, all I can advise is for people to pay close attention to storm warnings. Don't ever think, "it won't happen to me".

I hope lightning truly doesn't strike twice in the same place.

Take a few easy precautions during storms:

 Trim trees, remove overhanging branches and clear gutters and downpipes, clear yard of loose materials and rubbish.

 Secure loose roof tiles or sheets.

 Protect sky lights with wire mesh and fit glass windows and doors with shutters or insect screens.

 Prepare an emergency kit - emergency phone numbers, portable radio, torch, spare batteries, first aid kit, strong plastic bags for clothing, valuables, and plastic sheets, timber strips, hammers and nails for temporary repairs.

 Check home insurance is current and adequate.

 Disconnect all electrical items, external TV/radio aerials and computer modems.

 Don't use a fixed phone during a severe storm due to lightning danger.


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