Tuesday’s storms raise interest in lightning rods

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – There’s a heightened fear of lightning strikes in St. Louis these days after at least two suspected strikes in St. Clair County Tuesday night.

Experts say you may want to consider installing lightning rods at your home.

When it comes to lightning, St. Louis seems to be right in the bullseye.

A neighbor says lightning hit a 4 family condo in Belleville Tuesday night and set off a devastating fire.

Lightning blew out a satellite box after hitting a dish on top of a home in Mascoutah, causing extensive electronic damage.  No one was hurt but it nearly scared the life out of the residents there.

Jay Pettlon of A-1 Lightning Protection in St. Louis County said he had the answer:  lightning rods.

His family’s been installing them since the 1930’s: a series of aluminum or copper rods (standard or ornamental) about a foot and a half long each, spread across the roof of a home or business.

The company has installed systems atop homes and small business as well as large structures like Chaifetz Arena on the St. Louis University campus and the Latter Day Saints Temple near Hwy. 40 and Mason Road.

The rods channel the electrical charge from lightning through heavy copper cables into a grounding rod buried 10 feet into the ground, Pettlon said.

He said the relatively old technology work 100% of time:  lighting strikes and you truly don’t know what hit you.

“You won’t even know it, nothing.  You won’t hear anything.  The lightning travels so fast, travels in nano-seconds.  Then it takes this cable down to the earth then it dissipates in the earth,” Pettlon said.  “We’ve never had damage on a house after we put a system on and I’m third generation doing it.”

A system generally costs less than 1 % of a building’s total value — about $3,000 on a $300,000 to $400,000  dollar home, he said.