It’s been another steamy summer in Georgia, with temperatures hovering in the mid-90s in recent weeks. Although many regard the summer season as the ideal time for family vacations, backyard barbecues and lazy days at the pool, the warmer weather also can bring severe storms, hurricanes, droughts and other heat-related hazards, which pose a threat to health and safety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat causes about 400 deaths across the nation each year, so it’s best to stay indoors and drink plenty of water when the temperatures soar. Several precautionary steps can be taken to reduce the risk of heat-related disaster, such as insulating your home, shading windows and becoming familiar with the medical conditions that can result from over-exposure to heat, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The oppressive temperatures common in the summer months can also be accompanied by severe weather including thunderstorms and hurricanes. According to the seasonal outlook issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the Atlantic basin is expected to see an above normal hurricane season this year, which runs through Nov. 30th. And while thunderstorms can happen year-round, they are more likely to strike in the spring and summer. About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe—which means they can produce hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, generate winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or produce a tornado or flash floods. In addition, lightning is a deadly by-product of thunderstorms, occurring mostly during the warmer months of June through September.
With weeks of humid weather still ahead, it’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones, while still enjoying what summer has to offer. Take action now to prepare for any impending disaster. Create a customized emergency preparedness plan on our website before July 15 and you will be entered to win a potentially lifesaving NOAA Weather Radio, part of an annual giveaway contest conducted by Ready Georgia and WSB-TV’s Family 2 Family. Through this campaign, Georgians can also find Midland weather radios at greatly reduced prices at Kroger stores statewide.
Here are some more tips to help you prepare for severe summer weather.
Thunderstorms and Lightning
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe storm.
- Postpone outdoor activities in the event of a severe storm and plan to take shelter in case of heavy winds or lightning.
- Go quickly inside a home, building, or hard top automobile, if possible. If shelter is not available, go to the lowest area nearby and make yourself the smallest target possible but do not lie flat on the ground.
- Avoid tall trees, hilltops, isolated sheds and metal objects during a storm.
- Listen to a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio or radio for the latest updates.
- Understand the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning: A thunderstorm watch means there is a possibility of a thunderstorm in your area; a thunderstorm warning means a thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon.
- Plan an evacuation route out of your neighborhood and identify a place to take shelter.
- Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies in case you lose electricity or have to evacuate.
- Follow instructions of emergency officials, and know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning: A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area; a hurricane warning means a hurricane is expected in your area.
- Cover all windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect them from high winds.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- Keep all trees and shrubs well-trimmed.
- Be aware of recent weather. A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire.
- Use fire-resistant materials when building, renovating, or retrofitting structures.
- Remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
- Install spark arrestors in chimneys and stovepipes.
- Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: A rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket and shovel.
- If you are caught by the fire, crouch in a pond or river and cover your head and upper body with wet clothing. If water is not available, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Breathe the air closest to the ground.
Remember, preparedness now can reduce stress later, so prepare, plan and stay informed to make those days by the pool much more relaxing.