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The recent heavy rains and severe thunderstorms in Springfield highlight the need to know what to do in weather emergencies. This is Missouri Summer Safety and Lightning Awareness Week, and several local agencies are working together to get the word out about the hazards associated with the summer months. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.
High heat, lightning strikes and flooding are all hazards that can occur in the summer. This week, the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the National Weather Service are focused on reminding people how to stay safe this time of year.
Ryan Nichols is director of the Springfield-Greene County Emergency Management Office. He says if you hear thunder, you need to get inside. A good way to remember that is "if thunder roars, get indoors." Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from where it's raining, so if you hear thunder, you're within striking range. Nichols says one of the worst things you can do if lightning is around is to seek shelter under a tree.
Once you're indoors, there are other precautions you should take. Don't use showers, tubs, sinks or wired telephones and stay away from electronic equipment.
Flooding is another hazard this time of year, which people in the Ozarks are all too aware of.
On a recent rainy day in Springfield, there were 40 water rescues in one afternoon. The rule to keep in mind is "turn around, don't drown."
You should be especially cautious at night and never allow children to play in or around flooded areas.
Heat is another summer hazard that can be fatal if precautions aren't taken. Young children, the elderly and those who are chronically ill are especially susceptible to becoming overheated and developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Last year, 34 Missourians died of heat-related disorders.
To keep cool in the heat, wear light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of liquids, avoid strenuous activities during the heat of the day, take frequent breaks and stay out of the sun as much as possible. You should also check on neighbors, friends and family and avoid relying on fans when temperatures rise above 90—that can overheat you instead of cool you down. And don't forget about pets—make sure they have plenty of water and access to shaded areas.
For more information about summer weather hazards, go to crh.noaa.gov/sgf, health.springfieldmogov.org or greenecountymo.org.