With the summer months quickly approaching and we all love to get outdoors, it is important to remember weather safety. This week, May 22nd through the 28th is Summer Safety Week. Each day the National Weather Service will be focusing on different topics to help keep you informed and safe this upcoming summer! There will be five total topics discussed throughout the week, starting with lightning safety!
Monday: Lightning Safety
Have you ever noticed that meteorologists always say, “when thunder roars go indoors?” The reason we tell people this is because lightning is able to strike up to 10 miles away from the parent storm. Within the cloud of a storm, water particles and ice crystals collide causing positive and negative charges within the cloud. There are two types of lightning strikes cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud strikes. At the top of the cloud, there are positive charges and at the bottom of the cloud, there are negative charges. The positive strike that comes from the anvil of a storm is most likely to be the deadliest.
Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun with temperatures reaching 50,000 degrees. Across the United States, there are around 25 million strikes a year killing around 20 individuals across and injuring hundreds of others. In 2021 there were eleven individuals lost their life from lightning strikes, the majority occuring at the beach or on a golf course. Lightning tends to strike the tallest objects in an open space, so it is important to avoid open fields and trees. The electrical currents associated with lightning can easily travel through water and anything made of metal.
Tuesday: Heat Safety
The heat is nothing new to us here in the South, but when we experience extreme heat and humidity could lead to safety concerns. When temperatures are hot but we have dry air in place, and low humidity, it is easier for sweat to evaporate helping to remove some of the body heat. When the humidity is higher than evaporation process slows down making it more uncomfortable for us.
There are multiple steps you can take to protect yourself from the heat and signs to look for if someone is suffering from heat exhaustion or a heat stroke. During periods of extreme heat, it is important to limit the amount of strenuous outdoor activities and to stay plenty hydrated. Another way to help keep yourself on the cooler side is to wear light-colored and lightweight clothing. If you notice yourself or someone you are with is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion immediately move to a cooler area whether this is a shade or indoors. If symptoms do not improve make sure you seek medical help. If someone is suffering from a heat stroke it is important to get medical help immediately and to try to cool the person down as best as possible.
Wednesday: Rip Currents
During the summer one way to beat the heat is to head to the beach and take a dip in the water. Along with staying weather aware for storms you need to be on the lookout for rip currents. A rip current is a strong current that moves water away from the shore. Even the strongest swimmers can be swept away from these strong currents. Along the Gulf Coast, rip currents are the number one cause of fatalities.
If you are ever caught in a rip current remain calm and try to relax, rip currents will not pull you under the water. Do not try to swim against the current, instead try to swim out of the current. Once you are able to fully escape the rip current proceed to the shoreline. If the situation occurs that you are unable to escape a rip current try to remain calm and float or tread water. If there is a lifeguard on duty, try to yell and wave to get their attention.
Thursday: Boat Safety
One activity that many of us enjoy during the summer, besides swimming, is boating! While most days the weather will be perfect for boating you will come across times when the weather will not be so nice. It is important to check the weather before you head out on the water. The most important thing to keep in mind is staying weather aware!
As mentioned in the lightning topic above, lightning can easily travel through water. Yes, lightning can strike the water but it can also strike your vessel. If lightning strikes your boat, it could lead to a loss of electricity or even a fire. Stay weather aware on the water, if you hear thunder immediately head to shore because lightning can strike up to 10 miles away.
Friday: Air Quality
The final topic that will be discussed this week is the air quality index. The main pollutants that are monitored are ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Poor air quality can be hazardous for anyone and can aggravate anyone with respiratory or any other health issues. Seniors, children, and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable.
Some symptoms that can occur with a high air quality index (AQI) are itchy eyes, fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and others. The AQI can be confusing at a quick glance but think of the color scheme as a traffic light. When levels are at or below 100, the quality of the air is acceptable, the colors being green to yellow. When we begin seeing values above 100, it is then important to use caution and limit your strenuous activity outdoors. This is especially recommended for those with any health issues.
When it comes to severe weather this summer season, you can count on the Weather Authority to keep you updated and safe!