Published: Aug 24, 2011 8:51 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 24, 2011 9:52 PM EDT

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- We often hear that the west coast of Florida is the lightning capitol of the U.S. Already this year, lightning strikes have injured 19 people in our state, and hit some homes and buildings. But there is protection.

"It is terrible to see the damage from lightning, the burned house, the hole blown in the roof. But it is preventable," says Alex Gonzales of Lightning Protection Systems of Collier County.

Just a couple of days ago, British billionaire Richard Branson learned the dangers of lightning. A bolt struck the roof of his home in the Caribbean, and the house burned.

It happens often in Florida, but protection is available. Companies can install metal rods on the roof, and connect the rods with copper wire. Then, the wire runs down the side of the house and into the ground, dispersing electricity into the earth, and sparing the house.

"We are installing a number of systems on homes now in the summer. We've had a lot of intense lightning, and people get scared. It feels good to know that their home is protected from being blown up or burning," said Gonzales.

His company says it can install protection on a small to medium-sized house for $1,000 to $5,000. A large home can run $10,000.

Many commercial buildings and condo's have the metal rods for protection. The Florida Building code does not require the rods on new structures, except schools and hospitals.