Protect Yourself (And Your Gadgets) From A Major Thunderstorm

Protect Yourself (And Your Gadgets) From A Major Thunderstorm
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A huge thunderstorm with hail alerts is heading for parts of NSW, ACT and Victoria later today. If you’re in its path, here are some tips to ensure you and your valuable electronics survive unscathed.

Severe thunderstorms are on the forecast weather radar for Sydney, the NSW south coast and much of Victoria. Even if you’re safely ensconced indoors, an unlucky lightning strike or oversized piece of hail could still destroy parts of your property, including any gadgets you have plugged into a wall outlet. So what to do?

Some of the simplest tips are the most important: when an electrical storm starts brewing, you’re at higher risk for power surges and power outages, so make sure your electronics are plugged into a good surge protector. If it starts to get really bad, you may consider unplugging your devices altogether.

You can also take the process a step further and install a house-wide surge protector at your electric service panel. It’s the single point where your power enters your home, so it’s a great place for a surge protector that will protect all of the circuits and devices in your home. Granted you’ll have to check on it after the storm to make sure it hasn’t tripped (and if it does, you’ll need to replace it,) but they’re generally cheaper than repairing or replacing fried electronics.

Over at Popsugar, they share another tip that’s probably most valuable: back up your data, preferably offsite. If you’re not routinely backing up your data already, now would be a great time to start. That way if something does happen, the last thing you have to worry about is how to recover all of your important or memorable documents.

While we’re talking about dangerous storms, let’s be honest: no amount of preparation can save your electronics from something as powerful as a tornado or a thunderstorm so massive that your house comes down. When those kinds of storms come, your attention should be on your safety, not your computer or your HDTV. With a little preparation, you won’t have to even think about it when a storm strikes – you can make sure you’re safe and sound and wait it out.

Here are some additional tips from the Bureau of Meteorology:

  • Move your car under cover or away from trees.
  • Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.
  • Keep at least 8 metres away from fallen power lines or objects that may be energised, such as fences.
  • Report fallen power lines to either Ausgrid on 131 388, or Endeavour Energy on 131 003 or Essential Energy on 132 080, as shown on your power bill.
  • Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
  • Don’t walk, ride your bike or drive through flood water.
  • If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.
  • Unplug computers and appliances.
  • Avoid using the phone during the storm.
  • Stay indoors away from windows, and keep children and pets indoors as well.
  • For emergency help in floods and storms, ring the SES (NSW and ACT) on 132 500.

Additional reporting by Chris Jager.


  • What about buying a UPS or an AVR to protect your valuable electronics like Computers and AV Equipment? Making sure the power going into them is stable will also extend their lifespan. And if you have battery backup you can still use your TV or Computer when the power is out.

    • A UPS or AVR will iron out voltage spikes that can occur when lightning strikes the transmission network and causes protective network switching. If a lightning strike hits your house or very close by, they might not be enough. However, the most likely outcome is to fry the UPS or AVR without damaging your equipment. Don’t worry, the chance of your house being hit is about the same as winning the lottery.

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