A Summerside, P.E.I., family vacationing in Cape Breton had a close call after a lightning strike near their rental cottage caused a power surge that blew up a nearby router and scorched a playpen with a sleeping baby.  

Last week, Jessica and Jeff Cormier and their three children rented a five-bedroom vacation house in Dingwall on the Cabot Trail. As a storm blew across the island Saturday, they saw a bright flash of lightning near the house. Since the lightning hadn't hit the house, they weren't initially concerned.


Scorch marks from the lightning strike are clearly visible on the wall near where Jaxen's playpen was located. (Submitted by Jessica Cormier)

"I had never seen a storm like this. It seems, in the Highlands, these storms get caught between the mountains and they get so intense it's like looking at special effects in a movie," said Jessica.

"It was like a big, blue flash accompanied by a 'crack,' like a gunshot."

About two minutes later, the Cormiers heard sounds from their youngest son, 17-month-old Jaxen, who was napping in the next room.

When Jessica Cormier entered the room, there was thick smoke.

"The first thing that hit me was the smell. It was the smell of burnt or melting plastic and then the haze of smoke — I couldn't even see across the room," she said.

As she grabbed Jaxen she noticed his playpen, in which he had been sleeping, had scorch marks.

"We did do a thorough examination of Jaxen to make sure he was OK and wasn't harmed in the incident," said Jeff Cormier.

He said the power of the electrical surge launched the telephone off the table and blew the wireless internet router into small pieces.  

"We also found small pieces, afterwards, in the [playpen], but miraculously, none seemed to have hit him. There were two holes in the side of his playpen that weren't there before the incident," he said.


Jaxen Cormier, 17 months old, came out unscathed after a close call following a lightning surge at a Cabot Trail rental home. (Submitted by Jessica Cormier)

Luckily, Jaxen was not hurt, but the Cormiers called it a scary experience.

"You've got to look on the positive side of things and say, look, this is an extraordinary event and no one was injured and it's quite phenomenal, just the wrath of Mother Nature and what she is truly capable of."

As a precaution, the Cormiers had someone come and inspect the property, which turned out to be properly grounded.

Jessica Cormier said she doesn't think there were any other precautions the family could have taken.

"It really makes you less complacent about your life and reminds you to enjoy every moment you have with those that you love, because anything can happen," she said.

As for Jaxen, he seems to be unfazed. He took his first steps the next day.

"Either he was thinking, 'OK, it's time to get out of here' … or he really isn't affected by it," joked Jessica Cormier.