The Great Outdoors: Weather Safety

1
Are you Weather-Ready?
2
Lightning
3
Flash Flooding
4
Heat
5
Air Quality
6
Know Before You Go!

Are you Weather-Ready for the Great Outdoors?

Lightning

Flash Flooding

Heat

Air Quality

Know Before You Go!

Check the forecast before enjoying any outdoor activity.

The Great Outdoors are wondrous, awe inspiring, and both physically and mentally beneficial to experience. However, the Great Outdoors bring with them various weather and environmental hazards that can ruin your adventure and even be very dangerous. It is important to know your risks, take action to prepare and minimize those risks, and serve as an example for others to emulate. Here are some fundamental actions you can take and safety content you can share with family, friends, and across social media. 

Weather-Ready for Nature? 1. Flash flooding: Heavy rainfall can cause flooding in a flash. Use caution when hiking in canyons or camping near streams and rivers. 2. Excessive Heat: Bring extra water and remain hydrated. Use sunscreen and wear light, loose-fitting clothing. Take breaks in the shade. 3. Lightning: If you hear thunder or see lightning, go immediately to an enclosed building or hard-topped vehicle (if possible). Avoid isolated tall trees or ridge tops.
(NOAA National Weather Service)

The Great Outdoors, especially during the warmer months, can be susceptible to quick forming thunderstorms. The weather can change dramatically in mountainous areas and near large bodies of water. Extreme weather can be a bit more extreme in the Great Outdoors. Make sure you plan ahead and “know before you go” to the chances of lightning in the forecast. 

Some quick tips include:

  • Schedule day hikes or other activities to avoid times when thunderstorms are possible (which typically form in the late afternoon).
  • Identify locations with adequate shelter and reduced exposure to lightning.
  • Keep a close watch of the sky and look for those towering clouds bubbling upward. These can be thunderstorms forming. 

Are you planning to camp or hike near a stream or river? Remember that it doesn’t have to rain directly over you for there to be flooding. If you notice even a slight rise in water level, seek higher ground immediately!

Slot canyons are nature’s masterpieces, but are also susceptible to flash flooding. Flooding can occur even if there is blue sky above as rainwater can flow from an area that flows into the slot canyon.

Know the signs of an impending flash flood:

  • Rising water levels and/or stronger currents
  • Increasing roar of water up canyon
  • Floating debris
  • Sudden changes in water from clear to muddy
Know Before You Go.  Get the latest weather & flash flood potential forecast for the slot canyon watershed. Check in at a nearby visitor center or ranger station before heading into slot canyons. While in the canyon, take note of high-ground areas, in the event you need to self-rescue. Know the signs of an impending flash flood: 1. Rising water levels and/or stronger currents. 2. Increasing roar of water up canyon. 3. Floating debris. 4. Sudden changes in water from clear to muddy.

During hot and humid weather, your body's ability to cool itself is challenged in ways you may not expect. When your body heats too rapidly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, you could experience a heat-related illness.

Stay safe outdoors during the heat:

  • Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. 
  • Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don't leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
Heat Exhaustion symptoms: dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, weakness. Act fast: move to a cooler area, loosen clothing, sip cool water, seek medical help if symptoms don't improve. Heat Stroke symptoms: confusion, dizziness, becomes unconscious. Act fast: call 911! Move person to a cooler area, loosen clothing and remove extra layers, cool with water or ice.
(NOAA National Weather Service)

Everyone is at risk to the dangers of heat illness, but some people are especially vulnerable:

  • Newborns / children
  • Pregnant people
  • The elderly
  • People with chronic illness

Age and certain conditions make the body less able to regulate temperature. Take extra care to ensure they remain safe from the heat.

Everyone is at risk from the dangers of extreme heat, but these groups are more vulnerable than most: pregnant, newborns, children, elderly, chronic illness. Age and certain conditions make the body less able to regulate temperature. Never leave anyone alone in a closed car. Drink plenty of water, even if not thirsty. Use air conditioners and stay in the shade. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
(NOAA National Weather Service)

Before you go out, check the check the air quality forecast.

Poor air quality can be hazardous to anyone, and it can aggravate health problems such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease. Seniors, children and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

Air quality is reported using the Air Quality Index (AQI). It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.  The higher the number, the greater the health concern. Learn more about the AQI at airnow.gov/aqi/aqi-basics

Understanding the Air Quality Index (AQI). AQI 0-50 is Good, no health impacts expected. AQI 51-100 is Moderate, very sensitive people may wish to limit outdoor exertion. AQI 101-150 is Unhealthy for sensitive groups, they should limit outdoor exertion. AQI 151-200 is Unhealthy, everyone should limit outdoor exertion. AQI 201-300 is Very Unhealthy, sensitive people should avoid all outdoor activity. AQI 301-500 is Hazardous, everyone should avoid all outdoor activity.
(NOAA National Weather Service)
Know before you go! A clear sky doesn't mean that you're out of the woods. Check weather.gov to know if extreme heat, storms, or other hazards could be on the horizon.
(NOAA National Weather Service)

Additional Resources:

 

 

Page 1 of 6
Are you Weather-Ready for the Great Outdoors?

The Great Outdoors are wondrous, awe inspiring, and both physically and mentally beneficial to experience. However, the Great Outdoors bring with them various weather and environmental hazards that can ruin your adventure and even be very dangerous. It is important to know your risks, take action to prepare and minimize those risks, and serve as an example for others to emulate. Here are some fundamental actions you can take and safety content you can share with family, friends, and across social media. 

Weather-Ready for Nature? 1. Flash flooding: Heavy rainfall can cause flooding in a flash. Use caution when hiking in canyons or camping near streams and rivers. 2. Excessive Heat: Bring extra water and remain hydrated. Use sunscreen and wear light, loose-fitting clothing. Take breaks in the shade. 3. Lightning: If you hear thunder or see lightning, go immediately to an enclosed building or hard-topped vehicle (if possible). Avoid isolated tall trees or ridge tops.
(NOAA National Weather Service)
Page 2 of 6
Lightning

The Great Outdoors, especially during the warmer months, can be susceptible to quick forming thunderstorms. The weather can change dramatically in mountainous areas and near large bodies of water. Extreme weather can be a bit more extreme in the Great Outdoors. Make sure you plan ahead and “know before you go” to the chances of lightning in the forecast. 

Some quick tips include:

  • Schedule day hikes or other activities to avoid times when thunderstorms are possible (which typically form in the late afternoon).
  • Identify locations with adequate shelter and reduced exposure to lightning.
  • Keep a close watch of the sky and look for those towering clouds bubbling upward. These can be thunderstorms forming. 
Page 3 of 6
Flash Flooding

Are you planning to camp or hike near a stream or river? Remember that it doesn’t have to rain directly over you for there to be flooding. If you notice even a slight rise in water level, seek higher ground immediately!

Slot canyons are nature’s masterpieces, but are also susceptible to flash flooding. Flooding can occur even if there is blue sky above as rainwater can flow from an area that flows into the slot canyon.

Know the signs of an impending flash flood:

  • Rising water levels and/or stronger currents
  • Increasing roar of water up canyon
  • Floating debris
  • Sudden changes in water from clear to muddy
Know Before You Go.  Get the latest weather & flash flood potential forecast for the slot canyon watershed. Check in at a nearby visitor center or ranger station before heading into slot canyons. While in the canyon, take note of high-ground areas, in the event you need to self-rescue. Know the signs of an impending flash flood: 1. Rising water levels and/or stronger currents. 2. Increasing roar of water up canyon. 3. Floating debris. 4. Sudden changes in water from clear to muddy.
Page 4 of 6
Heat

During hot and humid weather, your body's ability to cool itself is challenged in ways you may not expect. When your body heats too rapidly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, you could experience a heat-related illness.

Stay safe outdoors during the heat:

  • Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. 
  • Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don't leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
Heat Exhaustion symptoms: dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, weakness. Act fast: move to a cooler area, loosen clothing, sip cool water, seek medical help if symptoms don't improve. Heat Stroke symptoms: confusion, dizziness, becomes unconscious. Act fast: call 911! Move person to a cooler area, loosen clothing and remove extra layers, cool with water or ice.
(NOAA National Weather Service)

Everyone is at risk to the dangers of heat illness, but some people are especially vulnerable:

  • Newborns / children
  • Pregnant people
  • The elderly
  • People with chronic illness

Age and certain conditions make the body less able to regulate temperature. Take extra care to ensure they remain safe from the heat.

Everyone is at risk from the dangers of extreme heat, but these groups are more vulnerable than most: pregnant, newborns, children, elderly, chronic illness. Age and certain conditions make the body less able to regulate temperature. Never leave anyone alone in a closed car. Drink plenty of water, even if not thirsty. Use air conditioners and stay in the shade. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
(NOAA National Weather Service)
Page 5 of 6
Air Quality

Before you go out, check the check the air quality forecast.

Poor air quality can be hazardous to anyone, and it can aggravate health problems such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease. Seniors, children and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

Air quality is reported using the Air Quality Index (AQI). It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.  The higher the number, the greater the health concern. Learn more about the AQI at airnow.gov/aqi/aqi-basics

Understanding the Air Quality Index (AQI). AQI 0-50 is Good, no health impacts expected. AQI 51-100 is Moderate, very sensitive people may wish to limit outdoor exertion. AQI 101-150 is Unhealthy for sensitive groups, they should limit outdoor exertion. AQI 151-200 is Unhealthy, everyone should limit outdoor exertion. AQI 201-300 is Very Unhealthy, sensitive people should avoid all outdoor activity. AQI 301-500 is Hazardous, everyone should avoid all outdoor activity.
(NOAA National Weather Service)
Page 6 of 6
Know Before You Go!
Check the forecast before enjoying any outdoor activity.
Know before you go! A clear sky doesn't mean that you're out of the woods. Check weather.gov to know if extreme heat, storms, or other hazards could be on the horizon.
(NOAA National Weather Service)

Additional Resources: