Posted at 9:58 AM
Summer means vacation, outdoor activities, and fun in the sun! It’s a time when families hit the road to visit national parks or distant relatives. The warm months and long days mean that there is plenty of time for baseball games and barbecues. The sultry temperatures practically invite you to take a dip in the pool or ocean.
But don’t let the sunny days and warm nights fool you. Summer also holds significant weather and water hazards. Heat waves can be lengthy and deadly. Lightning deaths are at their peak during the summer. Beach hazards such as rip currents can catch the unprepared. And, it’s the start of hurricane season.
This summer, the National Weather Service (NWS) wants you to be prepared for the following weather and water hazards:
- Severe Weather
- Rip Currents/Beach Hazards
- Air Quality
But you’re not powerless in the face of these hazards. With just a few simple steps, you can become weather-ready. Stay safe this summer: Know Your Risk, Take Action and Be a Force of Nature!
1. Know Your Risk
Being prepared means learning about summer weather and water hazards such as hurricanes, heat, lightning, rip currents, air quality, tsunamis and wildfires. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents.
- Since 2003, 43 states within the continental United States have come under a tornado watch; 49 states have come under severe thunderstorm watches; and lightning strikes occur in every state.
- Heat waves are common across the country during the summer. They are dangerous because the human body cannot cool itself properly when exposed to an extreme combination of heat and humidity.
- In 2015, there were 26 lightning fatalities.
- The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that more than 100 people each year die in the surf zone waters of the U.S. and that rip currents cause the majority of those fatalities. Rip currents are just one of many beach hazards.
- Wildfires kill 30 people, destroy 2,800 homes and burn more than 7 million acres, roughly the size of the state of Massachusetts, on average, per year.
- Flash flooding is the number one killer associated with severe weather.
- Air pollution can make it harder for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases to breathe. Children and teens may be more sensitive than adults to the health effects caused by air pollution. According to the EPA, poor air quality is responsible in the U.S. for an estimated 60,000 premature deaths each year.
- A tsunami can strike any ocean coast at any time. We cannot predict where, when or how destructive the next tsunami will be. Since the beginning of the 20th century, 34 tsunami events have caused more than 500 deaths and over $1.7 billion (2016 dollars) in damage to U.S. coastal states and territories.
2. Take Action
While the weather may be wild, you are not powerless. This summer, prepare for hazards with these simple steps:
- Do you live in a hurricane evacuation zone? If so, you need to plan on where you and your family would ride out the storm if you are told to evacuate.
- You may have only minutes to find shelter before a tornado strikes. Practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.
- Protect yourself from extreme heat by rescheduling outdoor activities to earlier in the day.
- There is no safe place outside when lightning is in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.
- Stay safe from rip currents and other beach hazards by only swimming at a beach with lifeguards and heed their direction. Learn how to survive a rip current.
- If you live near wildland areas, make sure your home is Firewise and fire-safe. Also determine evacuation routes from your home. Visitweather.gov or the Fire Weather Outlook to determine if your area is at risk for dangerous fire weather conditions.
- Whether on foot or in a car, if you encounter flood waters, Turn Around Don’t Drown!
- Make sure to check the Air Quality Index for your area at http://airnow.gov. If the air quality is poor, avoid prolonged or extreme exertion outdoors.
- Do you live, work or play on the coast? If so, prepare for a tsunami by learning about tsunami warnings and how to plan for evacuation.
3. Be a Force of Nature
Your action can inspire others. Be a Force of Nature and share how you’re working to stay safe from weather and water hazards this summer.
- Write a post on Facebook. Share with your friends and family the preparedness steps you’re taking to stay safe this summer.
- Tweet that you’re prepared with #SummerSafety. Tell us what you’re doing to be prepared for summer hazards.
- Create a Family Communication Plan so that your loved ones know how to get in touch during an emergency. And let your friends know that they should create a plan also.
- Look for ways to help your town prepare, such as volunteering with the American Red Cross or joining a Community Emergency Response Team.
- Register for America’s PrepareAthon! to learn how to stay safe during disasters.
With these steps, you’ll be doing more than just protecting yourself - you’ll help NOAA build a Weather-Ready Nation.