Campus Activities Programming Board promotes safe practices with Winter Safety Fair

Groups, such as natural gas corporation, the Columbia Fire Department and the Student Health Center shared tips to deal with the transition into winter.
A student talks to a booth worker at the Winter Safety Fair on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 in the MU Student Center. Courtesy of Twitter via @StufftodoMU

As winter comes to campus, the Campus Activities Programming Board brought in a variety of resources to help students stay safe through the season. The Winter Safety Fair was held on the first floor of the MU Student Center on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event featured eight different booths, including ones from the Student Health Center, Ameren, the MU Police Department, the Columbia Police Department, the Columbia Fire Department, Anytime Fitness, Off-Campus Student Services and ABC 17 Weather Forecaster Emily Klaus.

After attendees spoke with at least four of the event’s presenters, they were able to receive cookies, hot chocolate, an ice scraper and other giveaways while supplies lasted.

Despite this four booth minimum, the Campus Activities Planning Board wanted students to visit all of the booths in order to learn as much safety information as possible, Madison O’Dell, junior hospitality management major and committee chair for the Safe Mizzou Coalition on the Campus Activities Programming Board, said.

As the committee chair, O’Dell organized many of the event’s logistical factors, such as securing presenters and helping them prepare, ordering the giveaways and staffing the event so that information about winter safety could be effectively spread to students.

One presenter sharing this safety information was Shawn McGruder, the assistant Fire Marshal for the Columbia Fire Department.

McGruder distributed winter fire safety information, such as the importance of not keeping combustible items too close to heaters in one’s living spaces. He also said that students should be careful about keeping items away from candles, plugging in extension cords and using heat safety.

The Student Health Center contributed to the fair with a booth that gave out cold air flu packs as well as self care packs to emphasize the importance of both physical and mental health during the winter. The booth was operated by Pam Roe, the communications director of the Student Health Center.

“Not only is winter weather coming, people are getting colds, they’re staying inside, they’re more closely in association with one another, so more colds get spread,” Roe said. “[Students] also have finals coming up, so everybody is stressed, and when you’re stressed, your immune goes down and then you get sick.”

Roe highlighted the importance of students monitoring their needs such as eating regularly, staying hydrated, and taking breaks during the stress of finals season.

“People forget about simple things when they’re stressed out for finals and they’re thinking about packing up all their stuff and going home for winter break,” Roe said.

The Student Health Center’s booth also offered simple tips and tricks to combat colds, like the fact that hard candy can be substituted for a cough drop if one isn’t available.

Another booth spread information from Ameren Missouri, a corporation that provides natural gas to Columbia. Representing Ameren was Dennis Bennett, supervisor of gas operations for Ameren’s Missouri Gas Operations, and Ramona Schatzer, damage prevention and public awareness specialist for Ameren’s Missouri Gas Operations.

The booth aimed to teach attendees the smell of natural gas by means of a scratch and sniff brochure so that they would be able to recognize the smell in the event of a leak. If the smell is identified, one should get away quickly and call Ameren Missouri so they can safely address the leak, Bennett said.

Even if a students don’t know with certainty that what they smell is a gas leak and only suspect a gas leak, they should still call Ameren Missouri, Schatzer said. To do this, students can call Ameren’s 24 hour gas leak line at 800-552-7583 once they have gotten safely away from the leak.

Additionally, Schatzer and Bennett shared tips for being safe around water heaters, which are gas-run appliances.

“I want to emphasize that we are having a discussion about water heaters, because water heaters are prominent on the college campus,” Schatzer said. “We want to make sure that nobody is putting anything around their water heaters or other gas appliances. Because many gas appliances require space around it for proper ventilation during the combustion process involved with burning natural gas.”

Another way students can be safe regarding gas is to make sure they don’t interfere with gas lines by plunging tent stakes or sign posts into the ground when they hold events.

As a precautionary measure to protect these gas lines, students and faculty can call the free service of Missouri One Call at 811 or 800-DIG-RIGHT to receive a locate ticket, which will help them safely hold events, Schatzer said.

Amanda Werlein is a fourth-year graduate student getting her Ph.D. in chemistry who attended the event after reading about the free ice scrapers in an email.

“I like how it seems like everyone is knowledgeable and also eager to talk,” Werlein said. “That’s always nice. When people seem uninterested, it’s hard to pay attention.”

Werlein thought that the information spread at the event was important because students from different parts of the country may not be accustomed to dealing with Missouri’s wintery conditions.

“It keeps people educated about things in cold weather, both your health and things about different weather conditions,” Werlein said. “Mizzou attracts people from all across the nation. A lot of those people do have cold weather experience, but a lot of them are from southern states and don’t have as much.”

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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