Springtime is finally upon us and that means it’s time to dust off those hiking boots, bikes, and water skis and spend time outside! This spring you should make a point to enjoy the outdoors, but keep in mind that a top priority should be staying safe from what the elements are capable of. Meteorologist Kelly Cass gives us the scoop on her favorite outdoor activities, the importance of paying attention to the weather, and tips on how to stay protected.
What’s the first outdoor activity you usually take part in when the weather warms up?
Clean up the yard! I am hoping to do a veggie garden this year.
Tell us the outdoor activities you love to do throughout the year.
When winter ends, we hang up the skis and get out the bikes! We love to do mountain biking around an area lake. Then when it gets warmer, we’ll get out on the boat and do some water skiing or wake boarding. My kids are recently into wake surfing, when you get up behind the boat on a surfboard, but then let go of the rope and just ride the wake! I also plan to get in some laps at our pool.
Why is it important to pay attention to the weather before taking part in any outdoor activity?
Weather can change pretty dramatically, especially during spring and summer with thunderstorms. You might be out on a pretty sunny day, when all of a sudden, the clouds build up and you hear that rumble of thunder. It’s so important if you plan on being at a sporting event, or perhaps on a golf course, to know your chances of dangerous lightning in your area.
Are there outdoor activities that are safer to participate in during certain seasons over others because of the weather?
I prefer to do activities such as hiking or camping in the fall or spring, rather than the extreme cold of winter, or heat of summer. But, during the fall, depending on where you travel, make sure the tropics are quiet since the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is September. Even inland areas away from the coast can get flooding rains from a dying tropical system.
What are best practices for staying safe during outdoor activities during the four seasons?
Spring: Make sure you stock up and update your sunscreen supply. Also, if you suffer from allergies, make sure you have medicine, and tissues! Also, go over your severe weather plan with your family. Know where to go to be safe!
Summer: With the heat of summer comes the risk of hyperthermia, or overheating. Pay attention to your body, dress cool, stay hydrated. Never ever leave anyone, kids or pets, in the car. Put something important in the backseat (like your purse) so you are reminded if anyone is back there before leaving your vehicle.
Fall: In the fall, wet leaves on the roadways can be just as slick as ice. Make sure you clear out the gutters and storm drains so that those leaves don’t clog up, leading to flooding or damage. Just like springtime, fall is a transitional time of year with temperature fluctuations, so always check with The Weather Channel so you know how to pack and travel smart!
Winter: Ice and snow make travel treacherous, sometimes shutting down major highways. Always have an emergency survival kit in the car when traveling. This kit should include a warm blanket. In extreme cold, sometimes it can take just a few minutes for frostbite or hypothermia, so try to avoid being outside in the cold wind for too long.
What should you do if you’re outdoors and a dangerous weather event begins?
Thunderstorm and lightning: “When thunder roars, get indoors!” A good phrase from the National Weather Service to live by! Even if it seems the storm is far away, if you can hear the thunder at all, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. If on a boat, quickly get to shore and into a sturdy shelter. If out on a field or golf course, do not shelter under or by a tree since lightning can hit the tree, and either injure or kill you. If you find yourself outside with no sturdy shelter nearby, it is recommended that you crouch as low as you can to the ground, covering your head.
Hail: When the hail reaches one inch in diameter, or the size of quarters, it is large enough for the National Weather Service to issue a severe warning. Quarter size hail is big enough to start damage on roofs, strip leaves off trees, and ding your vehicle. Obviously anything bigger than that can do even more damage, or injury. So make sure you are safe inside, and hopefully you had enough time before the storm to put your vehicle away as well.
Tornado: Do not just rely on your town’s tornado siren to alert you to a possible tornado. Most of us have smartphones, that we can set up to sound an alarm with imminent severe weather. NOAA weather radios are also handy for those alerts, and safety information. Just make sure they have fresh batteries! Make sure everyone in your family knows where to meet in case of severe weather, and even practice with them. Your storm shelter should be the lowest most interior room of your house, and equipped with flashlights, helmets, shoes (in case there’s debris and you can safely walk afterwards)
Snow: While a lot of people joke about stocking up on milk and bread when there’s a snowstorm coming, it is a good idea to have any necessary things in case you’re stuck in your home for an extended period of time. Sometimes, the roads are closed. Sometimes, you lose your power too. So that emergency survival kit comes in handy, stock up on nonperishable food and enough water for you and every member of your family.
Now that you have the tips you need to stay safe while spending time outdoors, go forth and enjoy what springtime has to offer! If you have any advice of your own about safely spending time outside, please share them below.