June 21, 2010

News Release

For Immediate Release

Heat, Lightning, Flooding Highlighted in Weather Safety Week

The Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the National Weather Service are highlighting summertime weather dangers this week in recognition of Missouri Summer Safety & Lightning Awareness Week, June 21-25. High heat, lightning strikes and flooding are all hazards associated with the summer months, and officials are using this week to remind the public how to stay safe during these potentially dangerous conditions.

“It’s appropriate to be talking about summer weather safety today, because the National Weather Services has just issued our first heat advisory of the season,” said Ryan Nicholls, Director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management.“We are not strangers to extreme heat and it is important that everyone review over their plans and be ready for several days of extremely hot weather.”

Prolonged exposure to high heat, combined with humidity, can test the body’s ability to keep itself cool. Young children, the elderly and chronically ill people are particularly susceptible to becoming overheated and developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Last year, there were 763 emergency room visits related to heat in Missouri and 11 Missourians died from heat-related disorders. Young children, the elderly and chronically ill people are particularly susceptible to becoming overheated and developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Last year, there were 763 emergency room visits related to heat in Missouri and 11 Missourians died from heat-related disorders.

The National Weather Service has criteria for the issuance of heat advisories and warnings.  The NWS will issue advisories when the heat index — a combination of heat and humidity — reaches 105 degrees.  A warning will be issued when advisory criteria is expected to reach advisory levels for four straight days, or when the heat index climbs to 110 degrees and the overnight heat index fails to drop below 75 degrees.

To help keep cool during high heat, follow these tips:

Dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Drink plenty of fluids, particularly, water even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate your body.

Summer is the peak season for cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, which killed 34 Americans last year, two of which were in Missouri. Summer storms often cause flash flooding, a hazard Greene County residents are already familiar with this year.

“All the recent thunderstorms should easily raise awareness of the real hazards of lightning and flooding,” said Nicholls.

Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from where it’s raining, so if you hear thunder, you are within striking range. To stay safe during lightning conditions, the National Weather Service encourages people to remember the phrase, “When thunder roars, go indoors,” and to follow these tips:

The most common hazard of flash flooding is driving into low-water road crossings, although pedestrians may also be easily knocked off their feet by rushing flood water. When approaching roadways under water, the phrase to remember is “Turn around, don’t drown.” Also follow these tips:

“Despite repeated warnings to ‘turn around, don’t drown,’ we continue to conduct multiple water rescues during flooding events, primarily due to folks driving across flooded roadways,” said Nicholls. “Rising water and lightning strikes can be deadly and need to always be taken seriously.”

For more information about summer weather hazards, visit these websites:

For additional information on heat hazards, call Karen McKinnis, Environmental/Community Health Planner with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, at 864-1623. For additional information on lightning and flash flooding, call Ryan Nicholls, Director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, at 869-6040; or Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service, at 863-1456, ext. 726.

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Office of Emergency Management

Public Safety Center • 330 W. Scott St. • Springfield, MO 65802
417-869-6040 • greenecountymo.org/oem