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ZICTA tips ICT equipment users on lightning protection

ZICTA Digest
IN LAST week’s column we talked about Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) partnering with the African Centre for Lightning and Electromagnetics (ACLE) to confront (mitigate) the increasing threat of lightning on human life, livestock, telecommunication equipment and other infrastructure.
This follows the recent international forum organised by ACLE-Zambia from August 11- 13, 2015 with the theme, ‘Strategic Interventions to Mitigate the Hazards of Lightning’, which brought together government representatives, scientists, meteorologists, and those interested in lightning protection from across Africa as well as experts on lightning safety and electromagnetics from around the world.
This week, we give tips to ICT users on how to protect equipment against lightning which is a natural electrical discharge characterised by high voltage, bright light and thunder, predominately, experienced in the rainy season.
Furthermore, we highlight interventions being taken by ZICTA and other stakeholders to ensure standards for use in averting of damage to infrastructure due to striking of lightning.
Protection against lightning
ZICTA has partnered with a newly launched chapter in Zambia of the ACLE to mitigate the increasing threat of lightning on human life, livestock, telecommunication equipment and other infrastructure. This will be done by way of educating the public of the dangers of lighting and various measures that can be undertaken to mitigate its devastating effects on human lives and that of livestock.
In the same spirit, ZICTA and the Zambia Bureau of Standards have, for some time now, been working on standards for use in protection or prevention of damage to infrastructure resulting from lightning strikes. We are privileged to share information on the Technical Committee (TC) that champions this work and encourage interested experts to come on board.
Protection using standards
The TC1, “ICT and the Environment”, is the technical committee that is responsible for developing standards that define methodologies that can be used to protect electronic infrastructure. It is supported by Airtel, Cherrytech, the University of Zambia (UNZA), Zamtel and Zesco Limited among other stakeholders. It has three sub-committees as follows:
A. SC1/1: Damage prevention and safety which develop standards relating to:
• Lightning protection and earthing of telecommunication systems
• Resistibility and safety in telecommunications
• Protective components and assemblies
B. SC2/1: Electromagnetic fields which tackle issues concerning:
• Human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) due to radio systems and mobile equipment
• Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) issues arising from the convergence of Information Technology (IT) and communication equipment.
C.SC2/1: ICT and climate change which focus on methodologies for evaluating the effect of ICTs on climate change and making recommendation on the use of ICTs in an eco-friendly way
Tips that will protect you against a lightning strike
1. Plan your evacuation and safety measures in advance. When you first see lightning or hear thunder, activate your emergency plan. Now is the time to go inside a building or a vehicle. Never, ever shelter under trees as these are likely to be struck due to their height. Lightning often precedes rain, so don’t wait for the rain to begin before suspending activities.
2. If outdoors…Avoid water, the high ground and open spaces. Avoid all metal objects including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors, power tools, etc. Unsafe places include underneath canopies, small picnic or rain shelters, or near trees. Where possible, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van with the windows completely shut. If lightning is striking nearby when you are outside, you should:
A. Crouch down. Put feet together. Place hands over ears to minimise hearing damage from thunder.
B. Avoid proximity (minimum of 15 feet) to other people.
3. If indoors… Avoid water. Stay away from doors and windows. Do not use the wired telephone. Take off headsets. Turn off, unplug, and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools and television sets. Lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines, inducing shocks to inside equipment.
4. Suspend activities for 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.
5. Persons injured by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely. Apply First Aid procedures to a lightning victim if you are qualified to do so. Call or send for help immediately.
For further information please email info@zicta.zm or contact us on the following telephone numbers 0211 244424,244427 or 241236.

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