As Missouri closes the books on a record hot May, the National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Public Safety are promoting Missouri Summer Safety Week (June 18-24) to highlight the risks and dangers associated with excessive heat. For 2017, the Department of Health and Senior Services has preliminarily reported 19 heat-related deaths in Missouri.
According to the National Weather Service, among the cities reaching all-time high average temperatures for the month of May were: Columbia, Springfield, St. Louis, and West Plains. Kansas City and St. Joseph were among cities experiencing their second warmest May on record. It was the warmest May on record for the state of Missouri, according to University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan, who says the 73 degree average temperature statewide was almost nine degrees above normal.
“Summer heat and humidity have come early this year and they are already posing health risks, reminding all of us to watch out not only for ourselves, but for the young, elderly and people with pre-existing health issues,” Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden said. “Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car because the temperature can rise by 20 degrees in 10 minutes and 30 degrees in 20 minutes; remember to check on the elderly who may not have air conditioning; and all of us should limit our exposure to the sun.”
Missourians can find a public cooling center near them by visiting MO.gov and entering their ZIP code, city or county.
Remember these basic tips to protect you and your family during severe heat and heat emergencies:
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
Look Before You Lock – never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Eat light, well-balanced meals at regular intervals.
Drink plenty of water and limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Make sure your pet has fresh water and access to shade.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Wear sunscreen 30 SPF or greater.
Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day; use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
If you do not have air conditioning, consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
Be aware of medications that may impair the body’s response to heat, including antihistamines, tranquilizers and some medications for heart disease.
Summers in Missouri are also a time of heightened thunderstorm activity. Remember these basic tips to protect you and your family from lightning:
There is no safe place outside in a thunderstorm. Get inside if you can and stay away from windows, door, and metal pipes, including in a shower or bathtub; do not use electric appliances or landline telephones during the storm.
Avoid open fields, and the tops of hills or ridges. Remember, lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the rain area.
Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes) and metal objects. Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity.
Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects.
Remember, a tent offers no protection from lightning.
The National Weather Service has additional information on staying safe during excessive heat, as well as lightning safety at https://www.weather.gov/sgf/su.mmersafety