Lightning Can Strike Twice – use Belkin SurgeMaster II – Product Information

Leigh Bennett Dunlap

MANY YEARS AGO, MY great-uncle was standing on his front porch during a thunderstorm when his wife warned him that he better come inside before he got hit by lightning. His reply: “If God wants to take me, he’ll take me.” A moment later, God took him. During a recent thunderstorm, my husband warned me to unplug my computer in case the house got struck by lightning. “Too much trouble,” I said. A moment later, lightning resulted in another death in the family–the death of our office equipment.

The bolt struck a large poplar tree in our front yard. Because the phone lines to our house run near the base of the tree, the electrical surge entered through those lines, killing our Texas Instruments MicroLaser Pro E printer, our Hewlett-Packard 700 fax machine, and my newly purchased Sony Vaio 505G notebook. Although all three had been plugged into surge protectors, none of the phone lines leading to them were.

After conferring with tech support reps, we realized the printer and fax were toast. Neither was under warranty and neither could be repaired, so we had to replace them. The Sony seemed to have survived the strike, as we were able to start it up and access files. First impressions, however, can be deceiving: The internal modem would not dial up, and the computer died every time the AC adapter was used instead of battery power. By the next day, the notebook would not even turn on.

Sony’s technical support moved quickly; within six days I had a fully operational Vaio back in my hands. Even though a lightning strike is considered an act of God and hence not covered under the warranty, Sony fixed my portable at no charge. A call to customer service revealed that this is not normal policy; we were just lucky.

So how can you protect yourself against lightning strikes and other power surges? Start with a surge protector that has a connected equipment warranty. Manufacturers including American Power Conversion (, Panamax (, and Tripp Lite (www.aherncorp. com) offer a variety of surge protectors with solid warranties. We decided to go with the Belkin SurgeMaster II (; $29.95) because it has AC outlet hookups and dual phone-line outlets, not to mention a warranty covering up to $5,000 worth of connected devices.

A good surge protector with a connected equipment warranty can’t save your life, and may not even save your equipment, but it can save you from a direct hit to your bank account.

COPYRIGHT 1999 CURTCO Freedom Communications

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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