Tornadoes are deadly and destructive, but other forms of weather take lives – often more lives – year in and year out.

Tornadoes are deadly and destructive, but other forms of weather take lives – often more lives – year in and year out.


Heat was the weather-related No. 1 killer nationwide in 2012, according to the National Weather Service, with 155 deaths, followed by 70 tornado-related deaths.


Over the last 10 years, heat, hurricanes and tornadoes have each accounted for an average of more than 100 deaths a year, though heat generally claims the most. Flooding also is a danger – 89 deaths a year, on average – and so is lightning, with 52.


Heat has taken a particularly high toll in Missouri in each of the last two hot, dry summers: 52 deaths in 2012 and 47 in 2011, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Officials also point out that urban areas with lots of concrete crowding out green space become, in effect, heat islands, meaning among other things that temperatures overnight don’t fall as far they otherwise might, so it’s already that much warmer when the new day comes around and things begin warming up. Those excessive temperatures, day after day, take a toll on the body.


Safety officials offer straightforward advice: Stay out of the sun when you can, especially during the hottest parts of the day, and drink lots of water.


Other suggestions from the National Weather Service:


• Natural fruit juices are good, too. Avoid alcohol, and avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. Keep drinking water or juice even when you’re not thirsty.


• Don’t leave children (or pets) in a closed vehicle.


• Have a NOAA weather radio, and check it for updates.


• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat outdoors. Use sunscreen.


• If you’re working outdoors, take frequent breaks. Use the buddy system, and keep an eye on each other.


• Eat light. High-protein foods raise the body’s metabolic heat.


• Find an air-conditioned space. Even two hours a day in air conditioning can greatly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Use fans only in a ventilated room.


• Make sure outdoor pets have plenty of fresh water and shade.


One more hazard - flash flooding. Dozens of people die every year in vehicles swept away in flash flood. Many drivers underestimate the force of moving water, even when it appears to be shallow. For some officials have promoted the motto “turn around, don’t drown” to both drivers and walkers.