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Be weather aware, have a safety plan for outdoor recreation

Written by Sara Goodeyon
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District

U.S. Army Corps of EngineersKansas City, MO – With the arrival of the outdoor recreation season, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District reminds outdoor enthusiasts and recreationalists to be weather aware when visiting Corps lakes and recreation areas.

The National Weather Service advises the public that the best protection from weather-related injury or death is to monitor the weather and postpone or cancel outdoor activities when inclement weather is in the forecast.

Sixty-four percent of lightning fatalities result from outdoor recreation. A large portion of these are from water activities and sports. Infographic courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District)

“Being aware of changing weather conditions can help ensure the safety of each and every one of our visitors,” said Heath Kruger a natural resources management specialist with the Kansas City District. “We want to remind visitors to check the forecast when participating in outdoor activities. If the forecast calls for severe weather, make sure adequate shelter is readily available.”

In fact, Kruger said that shelter is the safest option for surviving lightning, flash floods and tornados, the three most dangerous conditions visitors encounter.

Following are severe weather conditions safety tips from the NWS

Lightning Safety

  • Just remember When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.
  • Find a safe, enclosed shelter when you hear thunder.
  • If caught in an open area, crouch down in a ball-like position (feet and knees together) with head tucked and hands over the ears to create minimal contact with the ground.
  • Do not lie down – lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly from more than 100 feet away. Crouching is the best combination of being low and touching the ground as little as possible.

Flood Safety

  • Remember Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
  • After a storm that produces heavy rainfall flash flooding can occur.
  • Avoid driving or wading through hazardous flood water.
  • Drowning can result from driving through water.
  • As little as six inches of fast-moving flood water may cause a motorist to lose control of the vehicle and as little as two feet of water can carry most cars away.

Tornado Safety

Some tornadoes strike rapidly, without time for a tornado warning, and sometimes without a thunderstorm in the vicinity. When watching for rapidly emerging tornadoes, it is not always possible to see a funnel: clouds or rain may block the view. The following weather signs may mean a tornado is approaching:

  • A dark or green-colored sky.
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud.
  • Large hail.
  • A loud roar that sounds like a freight train.

In the event of these weather conditions, take cover immediately, and keep tuned to local radio station or a NOAA weather radio channel.

If caught outdoors in a tornado and there is no adequate shelter immediately available:

  • Avoid areas with many trees.
  • Protect your head with an object or with your arms.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District reminds everyone to have an emergency plan in place for each of these hazardous weather conditions. Public safety is the number one priority of the Corps of Engineers. When visiting a Corps lake, play it safe, have a fun and enjoyable experience and go home safe.

Visit www.weather.gov, www,weather.gov/lighteningsafety and www.weather.gov/floodsafety for more safety tips and information.


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