The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.
Published April 11, 2018
Caution: roads, water can be a danger in spring
LAKE OF THE OZARKS – Now that spring is here and the warm weather is drenching the lake area, causing an abundance of shorts, t-shirts and bikinis, safety needs to be foremost in mind.
First of all, you might freeze to death if, at the present time, you run around outside in a bikini (or less) since winter is refusing to let go.
As many found out last weekend, freezing weather can still happen and that means roads can be a problem.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) warns that road conditions can vary dramatically this time of year.
Widely varying temperatures can leave roadways or bridge floors covered with frost. Even though roads appear to be clear, it is important to slow down and watch for slick areas, especially early in the morning.
Temperature changes also cause fog to develop. Drivers need to slow down, turn on their headlights, and be prepared to stop in foggy conditions.
And if you’re ready to boat on over to Party Cove and jump into the lake, you might want to think twice about that. The temperature of the water coming into Lake of the Ozarks from Truman Lake was 46 degrees last Friday.
The water temperature hasn’t warmed yet for the season, thus, hypothermia is cause for concern.
Life jacket use becomes even more important in cold water because hypothermia can quickly rob the body of the ability to perform the most basic tasks and drowning is always a concern.
According to the MSHP, if you wind up taking an unexpected plunge into cold water, it is vital to get out of the water and into dry clothes as soon as possible. If dry clothes are not an option leave the wet ones on. Even wet clothes will offer some insulation and trap body heat.
A warm drink can be given to someone suffering from hypothermia as long as they are conscious. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided. Drinks with sugars for quick energy are preferable.
Hypothermia can be deadly even if you are wearing a life jacket, so it is important to never go boating alone during cold water conditions. If no one knows you are in trouble, no one can help.
Another aspect of spring is heavy rain and that can flood some roads and low-water crossings.
Heavy rain can cause flooding and spring showers will certainly spawn flash flooding.
The MSHP recommends that people never drive through fast-moving waters; even a small amount of fast-moving water can sweep a slow-moving vehicle off the roadway.
If your vehicle becomes stuck in rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground. Respect barriers or barricades put in place by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) they are there to protect you.
Going around a barrier placed by MoDOT is against the law.
Farmers are also busy in the spring and that can become a deadly combination when a vehicle doesn’t pay attention to farm equipment.
Tractors and other wide farm implements will be traveling down rural roads. Drivers are encouraged to be patient, slow down, and give these pieces of equipment room on the road.
If you plan to pass a slow-moving farm implement, do so wisely. Never attempt to pass on hills or curves.
Also, check for a “driveway” on the left before passing. A farm implement moving to the right may be preparing for a wide turn, rather than allowing you to pass.
Another danger of springtime on the roads is people.
Spring weather will draw more people outside as they take advantage of Missouri’s many recreation areas. Keep an eye out for changes in traffic patterns caused by the increase in activity.
Expect more drivers on the road and watch for bicyclists, joggers, and pedestrians to be more prevalent when the weather is warmer. Also, children are likely to walk or ride their bicycle to school.
And when you do finally venture out on the water, remember that spring rains can also make a day of wet fun deadly.
Boaters are asked to take extra precautions when boating in flooded areas. Many times, the best decision is to stay off the water.
If boaters find it necessary to operate in flooded areas, operate at idle speed to avoid a wake that can damage flooded structures, docks, and the shoreline.
Fast moving water can easily capsize or flip a boat or personal watercraft, especially when combined with fixed objects such as trees and buildings. Boaters should avoid operating in swift flowing waters.
High water conditions increase the likelihood of partially submerged navigational hazards in the water, so keep a proper lookout to identify such hazards.
And before venturing on the water, take advantage of the nicer weather to go through the safety equipment required on your boat.
Mechanical issues tend to occur more in the spring after boats and motors have been sitting dormant for much of the winter.
Inspect your motorboat for fuel leaks and water leaks prior to that first trip out on the water. Ensure you have the appropriate life jackets and other necessary boating equipment.
Going out on the water unprepared is taking an unnecessary risk.
Most of all, be patient. As usual in Missouri, hot weather will instantly be on us and then the summer fun can begin.
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