COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – According to News 3 Meteorologist Nicole Phillips, 11 lightning fatalities and over 100 heat-related fatalities in 2021. She said heat exhaustion is the leading weather-related cause of fatalities because people often undermine the severity of the heat. 

“I think people are more relaxed when it comes to the heat. They don’t really think about it, when you have a thunderstorm you think ‘okay it’s storming, I can’t go outside’ but you still lose sight of all the risks that come with that. I think it’s the heat, I think it is something that is silent, you can get overwhelmed and everybody’s body is different,” said Phillips. 

Phillips said it is important to stay extra vigilant when the high temperature reaches the upper 80’s and 90’s especially when humidity is also a factor. 

She is emphasizing several tips that she said can help people stay safe this summer. She said it is important to find shelter during thunderstorms due to the threat posed by lightning strikes. Also, it is important to have access to a weather radar that can alert you to approaching storms. 

Phillips said it is important to wear light and loose-fitting clothing when outside during peak heating hours. Tight clothing can accelerate a person’s body temperature and cause them to go into heat exhaustion quickly. She also said it is important to stay hydrated and avoid exercising outdoors during peak heating hours.

“Those are some ways to help you out this summer but then also to keep you safe as well because that’s the overall goal. It’s to keep you safe during the summer whether there’s a thunderstorm or whether it is just the heat,” said Phillips. 

She said “weather aware” does not just mean days with severe thunderstorms but just staying vigilant of the weather constantly.