Lightning protection in theme parks: how to apply effective protection

Lightning protection in theme parks: how to apply effective protection

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas increases safety in theme parks by means of protection and prevention systems to minimize risks produced by lightning strikes. Dreamland Margate Theme Park located in Kent (England) is one of the last sites which has been protected by the company, where Aplicaciones Tecnológicas has provided the lightning protection system and the preventive system ATSTORM®, a local thunderstorm detector.

Theme parks are sites prone to lightning strikes

Speed, adrenalin, excitement… A visit to an amusement park is a popular kind of entertainment for everyone who is looking for fun and enjoyment. In 2017 the main theme parks in the world received 244 million visitors and the number continues to increase. The safety of the visitors and employees depends on many factors, some of them random and unpredictable like the possibility of a lightning strike.

Amusement parks are sites prone to lightning strikes. These are outdoor areas that contain very high metallic macrostructures. Due to these characteristics and the large number of visitors, specific systems are necessary.

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas carries out projects for this type of sites, taking into consideration external protection (lightning rods) and internal (surge protection), correct earthing and local storm detection. The last one helps to make decisions related to safety of visitors and employees in order to achieve effective management.

Terra Mítica protected by Aplicaciontes Tecnológicas from lightning

What can we do to protect a theme park from lightning? Protection and prevention

As it has been mentioned, thunderstorms cannot be avoided, but is possible to protect theme parks using different systems to keep employees and visitors safe.

Early Streamer Emission (ESE) lightning rods emit a continuous upward leader which provides the lightning bolt a safe way to the earthing system, providing a larger radius of protection. This makes them adequate to cover big locations with outdoor activities and large number of visitors and personnel. A system with Franklin rods and meshes is not appropriate for this type of locations.

Another key point in the protection of amusement parks is the surge protection. In an electrical installation the surge protection is key to guarantee people’s safety and prevent short and long term damage in equipment and materials. This becomes even more important if we think that most of the attractions in these parks depend on electricity and safety systems to work. Furthermore, they usually include very sensitive electronic elements.

Moreover, for a complete protection of the park, it is recommended to install an early warning system for thunderstorm prevention. The storm detection system ATSTORM® complements the external and internal protection by providing information in real time about the risk of a lightning strike. Because of the great size a theme park can have and the possibility of crowds, it is necessary to protect and prevent with the greatest anticipation possible.

The ATSTORM® system monitors electrostatic and electromagnetic fields in real time. In this way it helps to make decisions when there is risk of lightning strike thanks to the precision and accuracy of the data collected.

Among the advantages of having a storm detection system we find counting on alerts with tens of minutes in advance. Thanks to this anticipation, making decisions to prevent labor and customer risks in the park becomes easier. ATSTORM® also makes it easier to return to normal activity in the park when the risk of lightning strike is over.

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas protects Dreamland Margate Theme Park

Dreamland Margate is an amusement park located by the sea in Margate, Kent (England). The park began as a fair in 1880 and became a theme park in 1920 with the installation of its first wooden roller coaster.

It is one of the oldest parks in England and it has developed new attractions over the years mantaining a vintage style. In the first weekend of the reopening in 2019 (April) there were 11.000 visitors, an increase of over 97% of visitors registered compared to the same weekend in 2018.

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas provided the most advanced protection and prevention systems installing 7 DAT CONTROLER® PLUS lightning rods and one storm detection system ATSTORM®.

Theme Park Dreamland Margate protected by Aplicaciontes Tecnológicas from lightning

Early Streamer Emission (ESE) lightning rods DAT CONTROLER® PLUS are electro pulsating, which means that they use the atmospheric electric field as power source and they emit high voltage impulses to form the upward leader in the right moment.

DAT CONTROLER® PLUS is subjected to the highest quality controls, complying to more requirements that the ones demanded by the standards. It is tested for insulation under raining conditions and for a current with a larger number of impulses, ensuring its correct functioning under adverse conditions. It is made of high-quality stainless steel AISI 316L and it has also passed the ageing and functioning test under high salinity and acidity conditions.

Additionally, in Dreamland the ATSTORM® has been installed. This is our expert local early warning system for risk prevention associated to thunderstorms, which makes it easy to make decisions related to safety of employees and visitors in case of a thunderstorm. It allows to monitor the area to be protected in real time, offering alerts with tens of minutes in advance which can help to deploy the necessary actions to protect the people in that area.

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas is specialized in lightning protection systems and has been offering these solutions for over 30 years. Dreamland Margate is not the only Theme Park protected by the company. In Spain many amusement parks count on our solutions, such as: Terra Mítica, Terra Natura, Aquopolis (San Fernando de Henares and Villanueva de la Cañada), Isla Mágica, and Zoo Aquarium in Madrid.

For more information about protection of outdoor areas such as theme parks please contact our technical specialists here.