About 10 or so years ago, Tennessee, Georgia, and many other Southern states were in the middle of the worse drought in years. The area lakes were dangerously low. We didn’t have to ration water at my location, but we were told not to wash our cars and to avoid other large water use activities. Everything seemed so dry and crunchy that we thought the drought-like conditions would never end.
Until the last couple of years. Sudden rain and thunderstorms are almost a daily occurrence. The ground stays drenched. We have a house full of ants that have escaped to the surface because their homes have been flooded. Groundhogs, chipmunks, and yes even snakes are being displaced from their homes. We’ve had straight line wind in Cookeville that caused record breaking damage and loss. Fortunately, during the recent straight-line wind storms (not tornadoes) no one was seriously injured. Which was a blessing that didn’t hold out for long.
When it isn’t raining, we have record heat waves. We’ve had several recent deaths at our area state parks over the last few weeks. A flash flood at Cummings Mills State Park forced a daring rescue of several people who were trapped on an “island” after flood waters blocked their passageway. The majority of the people were rescued with only cuts and bruises. However, one 73-year-old woman was washed away from her family. The search for her lasted days. Another woman lost her life in the search. Two brave souls now resting in heaven.
In another incident, a 60-year-old Mississippi man collapsed and died on a strenuous hiking trail at the Window Cliffs Natural Area. The sudden changes in our weather from searing heat to record rains and damaging flooding and back again is posing dangerous conditions across the Southern United States.
Please monitor weather conditions before attempting any outdoor activities. Be prepared. There are personal floatation devices that can be worn on the wrist and inflated in an emergency to give a person buoyancy. Regardless of a person’s ability to swim, personal devices can still save lives.
The simple acts of carrying enough water, cooling pads, chilled face wipes (in a small cooler in a backpack) can help cool a person who has overheated during a hike. It is essential to our overall health to enjoy the outdoors and natural areas. But we must first be aware, to keep ourselves safe outdoors.
I wish I had posted this message before these terrible incidents, but I am now trying to warn all of my followers:
Be prepared; be informed. Check out historical information before visiting a park or natural area for the first time. Take proper precautions, even if you are familiar with the area. And monitor all changes in weather conditions!
It could mean the difference between life and death.