SEMA News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 01, 2020
With temperatures on the rise this week and summer officially about to get underway, Missourians are reminded that excessive heat and lightning pose serious hazards and to take precautions as they spend more time outdoors.
From 2009 to 2019 in the U.S., 293 people died as a result lightning, according to the National Weather Service. Twelve of those deaths were in Missouri, with one third of those deaths occurring to people who were enjoying outdoor leisure activities like fishing or boating. Although lightning can occur any time of the year, most lightning strikes occur in July and August.
This year, Missouri observes Summer Safety Day on Wednesday, June 3, to encourage all Missourians to be prepared and stay safe during summertime activities. While some hazards overlap throughout the year like lightning, each season bears its own unique threats. Excessive heat and humidity are also considerable concerns throughout the summer months.
“Heat-related illnesses and lightning strikes are both seasonal hazards that can be dangerous and even deadly,” State Emergency Management Agency Acting Director Jim Remillard said. “It’s important for Missourians to be ready – rain or shine – to protect themselves from these serious safety risks.”
In 2019, 11 Missourians died of heat-related causes, according to data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Two deaths were occupational, while three of the victims were in vehicles. A heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. This can develop within minutes or hours.
SEMA, NWS and DHSS encourage everyone to pay attention to local forecasts and plan accordingly when activities are outside. Scattered storms can emerge quickly so it’s important to have the ability to immediately seek shelter indoors if the need arises. Humidity can amplify the feeling of heat measured by a heat index so it is especially important to watch coworkers, friends and family closely and know the signs of heat-related illnesses.
Remember these other safety tips to protect yourself during summer’s lightning or extreme heat:
- If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity.
- Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter.
- Don’t forget the 30-30 rule. After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
- If the weather forecast calls for heat and humidity, limit outdoor exposure.
- Drink plenty of water before becoming thirsty in order to avoid dehydration.
- Eat light, well-balanced meals at regular intervals.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and head. Use at least 30 SPF sunscreen.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day; use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
- Be aware of medications that may impair the body's response to heat, including antihistamines, tranquilizers and some medications for heart disease.
Please contact your local NWS office for interviews about Summer Safety Day or for additional information:
St. Louis: (636) 441-8467
Kansas City: (816) 540-6021
Springfield: (417) 869-4491
Paducah, Ky.: (270) 744-6440
Memphis, Tenn.: (901) 544-0401
Davenport, Iowa: (563) 388-0672
For more information, call 573-751-6294 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org