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Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 4-10 with the annual statewide Tornado Drill to be held at 10 a.m., March 6.

The Fredericktown Elementary School will be participating in the drill. While Fredericktown High School, Fredericktown Intermediate School and Kelly A. Burlison Middle School will hold their evacuation drills to the FEMA shelter on Mar. 21.

Throughout the week the National Weather Service (NWS) and the State Emergency Management Agency have different themes for every day of the week.

March 5, was Severe Weather Preparedness Day. According to weather.gov, severe weather will happen and the best thing to do is to prepare the best you can.

NWS states step one is to identify the severe weather hazards you may face, step two is to set up your plan and step three is to practice your plan.

The site suggests to conduct drills and review them to find strengths and weaknesses in order to improve where necessary. They also suggest putting together an emergency supply kit including bottle water, a radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, prescription medicine and first aid supplies.

March 6 had the theme of Tornado Safety. According to the NWS, 83 tornadoes hit Missouri in 2017, up from 18 in 2016 and well above the average of 34. The most active months in Missouri are typically April, May and June. 

The NWS says that while the number of tornadoes was high the preparedness of the state helped keep deaths down to one and injuries to 32.

Wednesday is Flash Flood and Flood Safety Day. The NWS says flood waters have caused more deaths than tornadoes in the past five years, and many do not realize the power of flowing waters.

According to NWS, six inches of flowing water can knock a person over, two feet of water will make most vehicles float and each foot of water exerts 500 pounds of force.

NWS described lower water crossings as "death traps" once the water rises.

"There is a very simple rule to follow when you encounter a flooded road in your vehicle. Turn Around! Don't Drown!" NWS said.

Thursday is Severe Thunderstorm Safety Day. NWS says thunderstorms include lightning, high winds, heavy rains and tornadoes. The NWS says at any given moment there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress somewhere on Earth.

According to NWS statistics it is estimated around 100-120 deaths per year are caused by lightning with an average of 300 documented injuries. 

NWS said lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the rain area, and individuals should go quickly inside an enclosed building before the storm arrives. 

The week is ended with Communication NOAA Weather Radio Day Friday. According to NWS, receiving the latest warnings during severe weather is critical in order to make the best decisions.

NOAA Weather Radio is a service of National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration which provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from NWS. They are made by several manufacturers and come in a variety of styles. 

NWS also suggests the Wireless Emergency Alert System which is built into most cell phones. The cellular carriers receive NWS warnings and then the warnings are distributed to towers amongst the warning areas. 

According to NWS and SEMA the goal of the week is to save lives and the best way to do that is by being prepared. More detailed information on severe weather preparedness can be found at www.weather.gov/lsx/severeweek

In case of widespread severe weather, the drill will be postponed to 10 a.m., March 8. 

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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