Weather safety in Missouri: Be prepared, vigilant
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Special to GUIDON

It is often said that if you don’t like the weather here in Missouri, hang around for a few minutes and it will change.

Courtesy illustration
Anyone who has experienced the spring storm season in Missouri knows just how true this is. It is not uncommon for a beautiful spring day to transform into an afternoon of hit and miss thunderstorms bringing with them the possibility of large hail, damaging winds, heavy rain and sporadic tornadoes.

If you are new to the area, ask around about the storms we've had in the last few years that went through this area. You’re sure to hear some harrowing accounts of man vs. nature. While man can’t beat nature, we can take steps to be prepared for the storm season to ensure our safety when these storms approach.

The National Weather Services website,, has some great tips on remaining vigilant to severe weather possibilities and how to take shelter from tornado-producing storms.

It is important to not only be aware of an approaching storm and how to take shelter, it is equally important to protect ourselves from the fire hazards presented by these storms.


Most of us know that lightning has the capability of injuring anyone around its strike. We must also be aware that lightning can charge wires, appliances, pools of water and anything else made of metal with a deadly electric shock. The intense heat produced by a lightning strike that can split trees can also set buildings on fire.

After a possible lightning strike, building occupants should be vigilant of burning odors, warm walls or other indicators of fire. Call 911 to report the possibility of a hidden fire immediately.

Flash flooding

Last year Fort Leonard Wood lost several lives to flash flooding. People try to pass through moving water in their vehicles or on foot. Fire fighters are forced to risk their lives while attempting to rescue people in vehicles needlessly swept away by swift water currents.

Never attempt to drive or walk across roadways that have water flowing across them. It only takes a few inches of water to sweep a vehicle off the road.


During periods of extremely heavy rain, the flooding of buildings is a possibility.

People tend to concentrate on protecting their valuables from water damage during floods. We must also remember that wet carpet, pooled water and soaked walls all have the possibility of becoming electrically charged and, before coming into contact with these items, power should be disconnected from the building. The electrical system should be checked by an electrician before power is restored.

Remember that when the power is out, so will cordless and computer based phone systems. If there is an emergency, a 911 call will have to be placed from a hard wired or cellular phone. Anytime you call 911 from a cell phone, be sure to tell the operator the exact location of the emergency complete with the city and state.

The beautiful weather that dominates much of Missouri’s spring and summer seasons is great for enjoying the thousands of recreational opportunities the state has to offer. By remaining vigilant to approaching storms and taking steps now to prepare for them, we can ensure that we are not caught off guard or unprepared for any of the potentially deadly storms that will be in our area this year.

Power outages

 It is not uncommon for these storms to be accompanied by wind or lightning that damages trees, subsequently taking out power lines.

Be sure to have plenty of flashlights and spare batteries for use during a power outage instead of candles.

Candles are responsible for hundreds of fires and many deaths each year. Refraining from candle use during a power outage will reduce the likelihood that a child will get burned or start a fire with the candle or that the candle will be left burning when the occupants fall asleep.

It is also a good idea to have a battery powered radio available to be alerted to additional weather warnings.

Fire safety

When a fire strikes in the home, the window of opportunity for escape is not measured in minutes, but in seconds. It is imperative that all occupants are able to escape from the home in less than one minute.

The time to determine if we can get ourselves and our families out quickly in the event of a fire is not at the time a fire occurs.

Post regulations require that all personnel in government buildings participate in routine fire drills. Our children practice fire drills at school several times a year. Yet, for some reason, despite the facts that our homes are much more susceptible to fire and fire spread than in commercial buildings, very few people ever practice a fire drill in their own home.

The Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department will conduct a free Home Fire Safety Survey upon request, plus free home fire escape planning kits are available. They can be picked up at Building 625.

For more information, call the fire prevention section at 573.596.0131, ext. 60886.

(Editor's note: Information provided by the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department.)

Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 May 2017 )