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This past Father's Day was one to remember, but not for a good reason. Still, things could have been much worse. On the evening of Saturday June 18, my wife and I were preparing our son for bed time. He's a little over a year old now, but only recently sleeping through the night. It's been a trying time to say the least. On this particular night, a summertime thunderstorm was rumbling in the distance- a sound I've heard a thousand times before.

But this time was different. Oh, the storm itself was fairly routine. Some thunder, lightning, a brief heavy rain- but that was about it. Nothing severe, I thought. But I had forgotten the number one rule of thunderstorms- they don't have to be severe to be deadly. A lightning strike made direct contact with our neighborhood, flooding each residence with a sudden surge of electricity. The impact destroyed two surge protectors in our home, and started a fire in the bedroom.

It's hard to imagine a more frightening sight than black smoke rolling through your home. My wife quickly scooped our son out of his crib and dialed 911 on the way out of the house. I ran to the main breaker box and killed power, then spent a few minutes trying to smother the fire. Amazingly, I was able to extinguish the flames just before the fire trucks arrived. Much (but not all) of the damage was simply smoke related, as the fire was small and localized. Most importantly, no one was hurt. We were fortunate.

After an event like this, you eventually start running over everything in your mind. You know- thinking about what you did right and what you could have done better. The reason I'm telling you all of this is to encourage you to discuss your "emergency plan" with your family as soon as possible. And if you don't have an "emergency plan", get one.

For instance- does each member of your family know where to meet following a fire? Do you have portable copies of your insurance information? Do you have fire extinguishers in your home? Do you know that there are different kinds of fire extinguishers, some suitable for electrical fires and some that are not? Do you have a smoke detector? Is is working? Do you know how to navigate through a smoke filled house?

I know what you may be thinking to yourself. "My home is safe... it's properly wired, the outlets are not overloaded, the stove is never left unattended, etc". But what about that lightning strike on a summer evening? Does your family know how to stay safe in the event of an unexpected fire?

Father's Day Sunday, our preacher pointed out the obvious irony of a lightning strike at the home of a meteorologist. With good humor, he asked "didn't you see it coming?". Seeing it coming is one thing, stopping it is something else entirely.

(Send comments to Jerry at

By: Jerry Jackson