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‘Tis that season …

Local authorities offer some safety tips for summer storms

July 2, 2014
Lehigh Acres Citizen

As Tropical Storm Arthur rolled along the east coast of Florida Tuesday, local authorities offered some tips for residents to stay safe through the summer storms.

"We always advise that everyone keep a watchful eye on the weather throughout the day," Cape Coral Fire Department Emergency Management Coordinator Jesse Spearo said.

"In the summer months, volatile weather can develop quickly with little notice," he said.

Residents should check the weather reports at least in the morning and possibly carry a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio, especially if they are out and about or out on a boat.

According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Florida averages more than 10 deaths and 30 injuries from lightning per year. Approximately 50 percent of the deaths and injuries occur to people involved in recreational activities, with nearly 40 percent related to water, like swimming, fishing or boating.

Most lightning strikes occur in the afternoon - 70 percent between noon and 6 p.m.

"The best thing to do is go indoors as quickly as possible," Spearo said.

People should not be out in the open or stand near large items during a lightning storm.

"If they can get inside a structure, that's what we recommend," he said.

Motorists should stay inside their vehicle and try not to touch anything metal.

For boaters who face a lightning storm, authorities recommend that they head for shore.

"It's always best to get to post as quickly as possible," Spearo said.

Those caught in the storm should get secured within the cabin, if possible.

"Stay away from metal on the boat," he said.

The LCSO also advised that boaters should discontinue the water activities; disconnect and do not use or touch major electronic equipment; lower, remove or tie down the radio antenna and other protruding devices; keep arms and legs in the vessel; and stay low in the boat if no enclosure or cabin is available.

If a boat may have been struck, checks the electrical equipment and compasses for any damage.

Spearo pointed out that before leaving, boaters should let someone know their plans.

"So that people know where they are," he said.

In addition to lightning, residents should be wary of temporary flooding.

"There may be some heavy rainfall totals that might flood out some roads," Spearo said.

If a motorist sees water and is unsure of the depth - Turn Around, Don't Drown.

"We ask that people not drive through flooded streets," he said.

Six inches to eight inches of water can interfere with a driver's control over a vehicle.

High winds can be another concern during summer storms.

"They can be very interest for a brief moment," Spearo said. "They have the potential to know over trees."

In high winds, residents are urged to secure looser items on their property.

"With the storms, they typically bring this hot, moist damp weather," he said, pointing out that the conditions can attract disease-carrying bugs like mosquitos and flies.

"It's best that people wear protective clothing or products," Spearo said. "To help avoid them from becoming sick."



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