Frankly, I never heard of this type of surge occurring without the presence of a severe storm. This is what happens when lightning strikes on or close to your property. Anyway, to answer your question, the gear must be plugged into the surge protector and the surge protector must be on at all times, otherwise there is no protection and it is merely acting as an extension cord from your wall outlet. When the surge protector is on, it is always offering maximum protection, when it is off, there is no protection. Until you buy a surge protector, just keep your gear unplugged when not in use and do not play it when a storm is in the area.
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