Missouri Summer Weather Safety Week

June 22-28, 2014

"Playing it Safe in the Ozarks"

Join us in promoting Summer Weather Safety Week June 22-28, 2014.  Weather hazards from lightning to extreme heat can affect those in Summer outdoor activities.  This page includes important safety information that can save lives. Please help spread the word about Lightning, Flood, UV and Heat safety so we can have a safe summer.

Lightning Safety  |  Heat Safety  |  UV Safety  |  Flood Safety

Be Weather Ready for Summer Plans & Activities

Before heading to the park, lake, scenic river, ball game or to any outdoor activity be ready for unexpected or even hazardous weather conditions.  

  • Get the latest forecast before heading out
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, local media, or favorie weather app.
  • Pay attention to changing weather conditions (changing skies , winds, or tempertatures)
  • Listen for thunder
  • Monitor stream levels
  • Be aware of the effects fo excessive heat

Summer Safety YouTube Videos


Summer Safety PDFs [for download & print]

Lightning Safety

When you are outdoors enjoying the many recreational opportunities in the Ozarks, you should be especially alert for changing weather conditions and know what to do if thunder is heard or lightning is observed.  

Tragedies in school sponsored athletics are unfortunately a growing trend as well.  When thunderstorms threaten, coaches and officials must not let the desire to start or finish an athletic activity or event cloud their judgement when the safety of participants and spectators is in jeopardy. 

Here are lightning safety and planning resources for outdoor recreational interests and event planning.

Lightning Safety Tips (PDF)  | Outdoor Lightning Safety  |    Lightning Safety for Large Venues  | Safer Design

When you can hear thunder you are close enough to the storm to be struck lightning.

Remember:   When Thunderer Roars - Go Indoors!

Lightning Safety ResourcesReady.Gov   |   NWS Lightning Safety

According to statistics kept by the National Weather Service, the 30 year average for lightning fatalities across the country is 61.  Lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time, and because lightning does not cause mass destruction, such as from a tornado event or a hurricane, lightning generally receives much less attention than the more destructive storm-related events. Due to under reporting, it is estimated that, more realistically, about 100 - 120 deaths per year occur because of lightning. Documented lightning injuries in the United States average 300 per year; however undocumented lightning injuries are likely much higher.

Missouri Lightning Fataliites

Year 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2002 2000 1999 1998 1997
Deaths 1 0 3 1  2  1 2 0 2 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0

In Missouri there have been 98 deaths attributed to lightning from 1959 - 2013, an average of 2 deaths per year.

Lightning Deaths Nationally for 2013 


Heat Safety

Summers get hot and humid here in the Ozarks.  Although the Ozark Plateau prevents us from reaching temperatures as high as surrounding areas, summer heat can reach dangerous levels, especially when accompanied by humid conditions.  This causes the apparent temperature to feel even hotter.

Go to our Heat Index forecast page for expected heat index values.

Missouri Heat Related Deaths: 1980 - 2013: 1050 |  Missouri Heat Related Deaths: 1995 - 2013: 510

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
14 52 52 26 11



Source: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)

Heat Safety Resources

Heaty Safety Tips (PDF)  |  Heat Chart  |  NWS Heat Safety  |  NOAA Heat Safety  |  DHSS Hyperthermia & GuidebookCDC

Never Leave Children, Disabled Adults or Pets in Parked Vehicles

Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults.  Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.

U.S. Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles through 1998-2012. Chart shows 29-49 deaths per years with no clear upward or downward trend over time.
Courtesy of San Francisco State University. Use of this graph does not imply NWS endorsement of services provided by San Francisco State University.

How Fast Can the Sun Heat a Car?

The sun's shortwave radiation (yellow in figure below) heats objects that it strikes.  For example, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200°F. These objects (e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, child seat) heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off longwave radiation (red in figure below) which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.

Shown below are time lapse photos of thermometer readings in a car over a period of less than an hour. As the animation shows, in just over 2 minutes the car went from a safe temperature to an unsafe temperature of 94.3°F. This demonstration shows just how quickly a vehicle can become a death trap for a child.

Objects Heated by the Sun Warm Vehicle's Air

parked vehicle
( Hi-Res ~ 2.5 mb.WMV file)
Individual Frames:
0 min, 10 min, 20 min, 30 min, 40 min, 50 min, 60 min
Animation Courtesy of General Motors and San Francisco State University. Use of this animation does not imply NWS endorsement of services provided by General Motors and San Francisco State University.
Hyperthermia deaths aren't confined to summer months. They also happen during the spring and fall. Below are some examples.

The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively transparent to the sun’s shortwave radiation yellow in figure below) and are warmed little. This shortwave energy, however, does heat objects it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180°F to more than 200°F. These objects, e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, childseat, heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and give off longwave radiation (infrared), which efficiently warms the air trapped inside a vehicle. Learn more about excessive heat and cars.

Vehicle Related Heat Deaths

  • Honolulu, HI, March 07, 2007: A 3-year-old girl died when the father left her in a child seat for 1.5 hours while he visited friends in a Waikiki apartment building.  The outside temperature was only 81 degrees. 
  • North Augusta, SC, April 2006: A mother left her a 15-month-old son in a car. He was in a car for 9 hours while his mom went to work. She is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.
  • Greenville, TX, December 01, 2012: A 6-month-old boy died after being left in a car for more than 2 hours by his mother. She was charged with murder. The temperature rose to an unseasonably warm 81 degrees on that day.
  • Adults are in danger too. On July 12, 2001, a man died of heat stroke after falling asleep in his car with the windows rolled up in the parking lot of a supermarket in Hinds County, MS.

Safety Tips for Concerning Children

  • Make sure your child's safety seat and safety belt buckles aren't too hot before securing your child in a safety restraint system, especially when your car has been parked in the heat.
  • Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down.
  • Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks--even at home--and keep keys out of children's reach.
  • Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don't leave sleeping infants in the car ever

Heat Index Chart

Heat Wave Safety Tips 

Drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic fluids.
Your body needs water to keep cool.  Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty.  Persons who 1) have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, 2) are on fluid or restrictive diets, or 3) have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.

Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
Persons on salt restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.

Spend more time in air-conditioned places.
Air conditioning in homes and other buildings markedly reduces danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air-conditioner, spending some time each day (during hot weather) in an air conditioned environment affords some protection.

Don't get too much sun
Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult.

Slow Down
Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated, or rescheduled to the  coolest time of the day.  Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.

Dress for Summer
Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.

Put less fuel on your inner fires.
Foods (like proteins) that increase meabolic heat production also increase water loss.

Do not drink alcoholic beverages.Het Index ad Related Heat Disord


Redness and pain.  Swelling of skin, blisters, fever, headaches. Heat Cramps Painful spasms usually in muscle of legs and abdomen. Heat Exhaustion Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy.  Fainting and vomiting. Heat Stroke High body temperature (>105).  Hot dry skin.  Rapid pulse.  Possible unconsciousness.  

To advise you of the potential of excessive heat, NWS Springfield will issue a :

Heat advisory: Heat index around 105 degrees or greater, or 4 days or more of a heat index greater than 100.

Excessive Heat Warning: Heat index of 105 for 4 days OR a heat index of 110 degrees or greater.

Hazardous weather outlook: Daily at 6 am and 1 pm to highlight the potential of any hazardous weather over the next few days.  


UV Safety

Outdoor recreational opportunities to enjoy the Summer sun abound in the Ozarks region.  However, extended time in the sun can be harmful.  Before heading to the lake, floating, or to the ball game, make sure to take proper precautions to protect your skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.

For much more UV information and UV forecasts, go to the following sites:

Environmental Protection Agency UV Information

NWS Ultraviolet Index Awareness

Exposure Category UV Index Protective Actions
Minimal 0, 1, 2 Apply skin protection factor (SPF) 15 sun screen.
Low 3, 4 SPF 15 & protective clothing (hat)
Moderate 5, 6 SPF 15, protective clothing, and UV-A&B sun glasses.
High 7, 8, 9 SPF 15, protective clothing, sun glasses and make attempts to avoid the sun between 10am to 4pm.
Very High 10+ SPF 15, protective clothing, sun glasses and avoid being in the sun between 10am to 4pm.

 UV Safet Tips                                            
Do not burn. Five or more sunburns doubles your risk of developing skin cancer.


Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.
UV light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling.  If you want to look like you've been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.


Generously apply sunscreen.

Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin using a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.  Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days and afater swimming or sweating.

Wear Protective Clothing.

 Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses where possible


. Seek Shade.

Seek shade when appropriate remembering that the sun's UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm.  Remember the shadow rule when in the sun:  Watch your shadow.  No shadow, seek shade!


Use extra caution near water, snow and sand Water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
Watch for the UV Index

The UV index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun.  Developed by the National Weather Service and EPA, the UV index is issued daily in selected cities across the United States.

Get Vitamin D Safely Get vitamin D safely through a diet that includes vitamin supplements and foods fortified with vitamin D.  Don't seek the sun.   

  Flood Safety

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard.  Why?  The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water.

Be especialy alert when camping near or floating on area streams and rivers.  Water levels can rise rapidy and without little if any notice.  Heavy rain upstream can cause flash floods even thougth it may be sunny at your location. 

Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream.  Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive across a flooded road.



One of the primary flood hazards and causes of flood related deaths across the Ozarks is driving into low water crossings.  Every year a few adventurous drivers attempt to cross flooded roads and fail.  Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, Turn around Don't Drown. You will not know the depth of the water nor the condition of the road under the water.

Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot and typically flows downstream at 6 to 12 mph.  When a vehicle stalls in the water, the water's momentum is transferred to the car.  For each foot the water rises, 500 lbs. of lateral force is applied to the automobile.

But the biggest factor is bouyancy.  For each foot the water rises up the side of the car, the car displaces 1500 lbs of water.  In effect, the automobile weighs 1500 lbs less for each foot the water rises.  Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles!




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