Protect Your Appliances and Devices from Lightning-Induced Damage

Surge protection keeps electronics safe from voltage spikes

Being indoors is a safe place to be when lightning strikes—but that doesn’t mean your electric appliances and devices are safe. That’s why Clarksdale Public Utilities is encouraging customers to take appropriate steps to protect their home electronics from harm.

“Power surges from lightning strikes can cause significant damage to electronics and appliances in a matter of seconds,” said CPU General Manager Curtis D. Boschert. “By investing in the proper equipment, customers can protect their property and save money by avoiding the cost of repairing or replacing damaged products.”

The easiest way to protect smaller appliances and electronics is by plugging them into a surge protector, which takes the brunt of a lightning strike and diverts extra voltage to keep power levels consistent.

For larger appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners and water heaters, a whole-home surge protector can reroute the voltage away from outlets to the grounding wire. Always plug larger appliances into wall outlets and never use surge protectors, plug strips or extension cords to power them.

Boschert noted that CPU is committed to reliable service and works year-round to protect its grid against the worst that Mother Nature can bring. In addition to proactive inspections and maintenance, the utility adds lightning protection devices such as shield wires and surge arresters to protect its equipment from the destructive effects of cloud-to-ground lightning.

While lightning is a common factor in power surges and equipment damage, it’s not the only source. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association estimates that more than half of surges are caused by events inside the home, such as old wiring or overloaded circuit breakers. In fact, 60% to 80% of power surges happen when larger appliances like air conditioners cycle on and off. That is why having some type of surge protection can help.

Additional tips include:

  • Assess your home’s needs and determine which type of surge protection is best for you. If a whole-home or other outdoor device is best, consult a licensed electrician to inspect your home and safely install it for you.
  • Know the difference between power strips and surge protectors. Only the surge protector will keep electronics from getting fried by excess electricity. A standard power strip is simply a device that allows you to have extra outlets without additional protection.
  • Check the packaging to ensure it’s a surge protector before buying it and look for a Joules rating. If it says 2,000 Joules, that means it can take 2,000 Joules worth of power surges before it’s no longer effective.
  • Consider the devices you plan to plug in and buy protectors with the correct energy-absorption rating.
  • Make sure the surge protector has the right number of ports to do the job and that ports are well spaced.
  • Check for the Underwriters’ Laboratory seal and make sure any protectors purchased meet their standards.
  • If a warranty is offered, check to see what is and is not covered, the company’s customer service rating and what their claims process entails.
“Major appliances and electronics are expensive,” said Boschert. “One bad power surge, and you could be out thousands of dollars in equipment. Before that happens, take a few steps to ensure your home is protected from voltage spikes.”

For more information and details, visit or NEMA’s Surge Protection Institute.

Clarksdale Public Utilities is a municipally owned utility serving approximately 6,800 homes and businesses in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its mission is to safely provide sustainable electric, water and wastewater services in a reliable and courteous manner by well-trained team members, committed to top quality, efficient operations, competitive rates and the vitality of the community.

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For more than 125 years, Clarksdale Public Utilities has supplied utility services that support our community’s growth, vibrance and quality of life. But we are more than a provider of reliable and affordable electric, water and wastewater services — we are your family, friends and neighbors. We are people who care. We are CPU.

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