Is it Safe to Use My Computer During a Storm?

Kate SaundersHardware, Surge Protection

Is it safe to use a computer during a storm? – To put it simply; it depends on what type of computer you’re using and how you’re using it. Let’s break it down ⬇️


Due to the risk of electrical damage, disconnect your desktop from power, LAN and phone lines until the storm passes, especially if you do not have quality surge protection equipment. Even with surge protection, it is important to remember that damage may still occur.


It is safe to use your laptop during a storm, so long as you are running it from battery. Disconnect your laptop from power, LAN and phone lines until the storm passes.


The number one cause for dead modems is lightning. While modems are generally much cheaper to replace than a laptop or desktop computer, it is still recommended that you disconnect your modem completely during a storm. As modems connect to both phone line and power, they are at a greater risk of being damaged.


Disconnect printers/scanners/copiers from power, LAN and phone lines during a storm to reduce the likelihood of damage.


Fax machines are sensitive electrical equipment that should be disconnected from power, LAN and phone lines during a storm. It is possible for fax machines to be damaged by strikes up to 1 kilometre away from the line.


Wearing headsets during a storm puts you at risk of receiving acoustic shock or electrical shock due to the components being in close proximity to your head. Electrical shock can occur due to lightning travelling through the wires, producing shocks to anyone using them.


Surge protection may reduce the likelihood of loss, damage or injury from lightning strikes and low energy surges. However, surge protection does not completely eliminate the risk. If you were to receive a direct strike to your house, it is very unlikely that a surge protector will prevent damage to your electrical equipment. In extreme cases, even unplugged electrical equipment can be damaged by induction from a direct lightning strike.

Implementing Multiservice Surge Protection Devices (MSPD) around your home or office is a cost effective solution to reduce the risk of damage. MSPD’s are easy to install power boards containing both telecommunication and mains protection, and are available from most electrical and computer stores. In order to receive the best protection from your MSPD unit, all interconnected equipment such as computers, printers and modems should be plugged into the same MSPD.