Emergency Preparedness

Disasters and Preparation

Tornado Preparation and Emergency Warnings

Stay Safe during Severe Storm and Tornado Season

Most tornados occur between March and September, but they can strike at any time, day or night. Stay alert during severe thunderstorms. Watch for a spinning, funnel-shaped cloud or listen for a sound like the roar of a speeding train. Wherever you go, be aware of where you might take shelter. Stay tuned to local radio and television stations for the most updated information. It could save your life.

Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

A watch means “watch” the sky. Weather conditions are right for tornados.

A warning means a tornado “has been sighted or picked up on radar”


Severe Weather Broadcasts

Stay tuned to a local radio station or an emergency broadcast station for tornado information – your life may depend on it!

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for severe weather reports or listen to your local radio station.


Even the most securely anchored mobile home is not safe in a tornado.  If a tornado warning is issued for your area, leave your mobile home immediately.  Move to a nearby permanent shelter or take cover in a ditch or ravine.  Do not get under your mobile home or try to outrun the tornado in your car. 


If you are caught on the road in a tornado, leave your car immediately.  Do not try to drive away from the storm.  If you have time, get inside a building.  If not, lie flat in a ditch or ravine and cover your head with your arms.  Do not take cover inside your car or under your car.  Stay tuned to a local radio station or an emergency broadcast station for tornado information – your life may depend on it.


If you are home when a tornado strikes, go to your basement and take cover.  If your basement has windows or doors, stay away from the windows and doors.  If you do not have a basement, go to an interior room such as a closet or bathroom (a bathroom without windows) that is located on the lowest floor of the home on the lowest floor.  It is vital to stay away from windows. Do not take the time to open windows before taking cover. If you live in a mobile home, go outside and lie in a ditch or ravine.  Your mobile home is NO MATCH for a tornado!


If you’re caught outside in a tornado, take cover in a ditch or ravine immediately. Lie flat with your arms over your head.  If you can, wrap something around your body such as a blanket or sleeping bag. Do NOT stay in your car or get under your car or camper or go into a grove of trees.  Knowing what to do in a tornado can save your life.


Lightning can strike from as far as 15 miles away.  If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, get inside a building or a car.  If you must stay outside, keep away from metal, like golf carts, motorcycles, fences, metal lines, power lines, or pipes.  Stay below ground level, away from hilltops, open beaches or fields.  Most importantly, stay away from open water.  Each year lightning kills more Americans than tornados or hurricanes.  Most of these deaths happen outside.  If you are inside a building, or even a car, your chances of being struck by lightning are slim.  Stay on top of weather conditions when planning camping trips, swimming, fishing, or other outdoor activities.

Contact St. Francois County Health Center for additional information OR log on to www.dhss.mo.gov and click on the Ready In 3 logo.

Fire Safety


Get A Smoke Alarm – Why, Where and Which One?  Where to install. 

Make an Escape Plan– Time is your biggest enemy! 

 Practice Fire Safety   –  Ways to prevent and survive a fire! 

Residential Fire Sprinklers    – Extinguish fires with residential sprinklers. 

What to Do After a Fire  – Recovering from a fire. 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – C O  poisoning claims hundreds of lives a year!

Statics  –  Residential fire-related deaths remain preventable! 

Fire Extinguishers – Types of extinguishers, how to use and should I use one?
Class A: Cloth, wood, rubber, paper and many plastics
Class B: Flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil and
oil-based paints
Class C: Appliances, tools or electrical equipment
Class D: Flammable metals. Specific extinguisher for specific
metals (typically in factories or fabrication sites)
Class K: Vegetable oils, animal oils or fats in cooking appliances.
Generally found in commercial kitchens, but have residential
applications. Fire Safety and Prevention Websites

Government sites include information provided by the
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – fire safety & prevention

   Consumer Product Safety Commission – outdoor safety

 U.S. Fire Administration – winter fire safety & holiday cooking safety

 EPA – buying a smoke alarm

 Ready  Prepare, Plan. Stay Informed.  Website designed for kids!

U.S. Fire Administration for citizens presents various Fire Safety Topics for parents, kids, older adults, people with disabilities, and college students. Private Companies Offering Fire Safety Information

 ADT Home Security Systems – Smoke alarms
 Firesafe.org – Home fire safety challenge
The My Place is Fire Safe Challenge – Sponsored by ADTOrganizations Offering Fire Safety Information

National Fire Protection Association
The authority on fire, electrical and building safety.
Safety information (reduce residential fire deaths, injury and property loss), NFPA codes & standards (electrical/fire/hazardous materials/life safety), training (latest practices and trends), and statistics, reports, investigations, literature and much more.

 Fire Safety Advice Centre – Firsafe.org.uk
A fire safety and fire prevention advice portal.  The site is maintained by Safelincs Ltd.  They welcome ideas and content contribution in an effort to develop an authoritative fire safety information portal.  Fire safety equipment, fire risk assessment, fire safety guideline, fire safety at home and miscellaneous fire safety issues are presented on this site.

Flood Safety

Joplin flood 122815 JAT 134F

 Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for severe weather reports or listen to your local radio station for weather reports and flood warnings.  Your life may depend upon it!

Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and be inhaled. Where floodwater contains sewage or decaying animal carcasses, infectious disease is of concern. Even when flooding is due to rainwater, the growth of microorganisms can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. For these health reasons, and to lessen structural damage, all standing water should be removed as quickly as possible.Precautions for Entering Flood-Damaged Homes or Buildings.Flood cleanup information will be added as soon as possible.  Until then,please log onto this web site for information.Precautions for Entering Flood Damaged Homes or Buildings

When you return to a flood-damaged home, an apartment or a business, take extra precautions before and during your clean-up efforts. Simply because the water has gone down, does not mean that their are nodangers.  Flood hazards such as a weakened foundation, exposed wires or contaminated floodwater are not always obvious.  These can be potentially life-threatening if precautions are not taken.  Keep the following safety tips in mind:

Before Entering A Building

Check the outside of the building: Call the utility company immediately if you find downed power lines or detect gas leaks. (Gas leaks will emit an odor of rotten eggs.)

Look for external damage: Examine the foundation for cracks or other damage. Also examine porch roofs and overhangs to be sure they still have all their supports. Look for gaps between the steps and the house. If any supports or portions of the foundation walls are missing or the ground has washed away, the floor is not safe. If you see obvious damage, have a building inspector check the house before you go in.

Enter the building carefully: If the door sticks at the top it could mean the ceiling is ready to fall. If you force the door open, stand outside the doorway clear of falling debris.

After Entering A Building

Look before you step: The ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs can be very slippery. Be alert for gas leaks: Do not strike a match or use an open flame when you enter the building unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area ventilated. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Turn off the electricity: Even if the power company has turned off electricity to the area, be sure to disconnect your house’s power supply. Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.

Replace exposed wires: Electrical wires that have been exposed to water are recyclable junk and must be replaced. Watch for animals, especially snakes: Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small animals.

Carbon monoxide exhaust kills: Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Charcoal fumes are deadly; cook with charcoal outdoors.

Drain your basement carefully: Water in the ground puts pressure on your basement walls and floors. Drain the basement gradually to minimize further structural damage.

Hose the house: Most of the health hazards brought by a flood are in the mud and silt that is left after the water drains away. Shovel out as much mud as possible and hose the house down, inside and out. Be aware of health hazards: Floodwaters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings. Many flooded items, such as wallboard and mattresses, will hold mud and contamination forever. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics, and medicine are also health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.What to do when entering flood-damaged home information through the FEMA website.


If indoors:

Drop to the ground; TAKE COVER by getting under a sturdy table or desk, or other pieces of furniture, and HOLD ON to the furniture until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. An inside corner will provide more protection than a wall. Crouching in an interior doorway that is a loadbearing, will offer more protection than standing or sitting unprotected. Stay away from windows, outside doors and walls, fireplaces, woodstoves, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or heavy furniture or appliances.

*Alternative view of indoor safety – Triangle of Live [scroll down the page]

Stay inside until all shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to move.  Remember that gas lines may be ruptured, power lines and electrical connections may be severed, sprinkler systems may be activated and alarms may be sounding.  Do NOT use elevators.  Remain calm.  Think about what and how; you need to do to reach a safe location.

If outdoors:

Get into an open area.  Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires (power lines). Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. DO NOT rush into buildings in search of survivors. There may be after shocks which can cause partially collapsed structures to completely fall.  Many of the fatalities which occur from earthquakes, occur when people ran into buildings searching for survivors, or ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls resulting from aftershocks. Stay where you are until you are certain that the shaking has stopped. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If driving:

Stop as quickly as possible (safety permitting) and remain inside your vehicle. Do NOT attempt to continue driving during the earthquake.  You will not have control of your vehicle Stay away from bridges, overpasses, tunnels, light posts, large signs, trees and utility wires (power lines).

Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that may have been damaged during the earthquake. 

If you are trapped:

If you are trapped under debris, do not move about or kick up dust.  The dust may contain hazardous materials which you do not want to inhale.  Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Do not light a match.  There may be a natural gas leak or the presence of explosive gases (vapors). Tap on a pipe, a metal surface or wall so you may be heard by rescuers.  Shout only as a last resort.  Hazardous dust may be injested when you shout.

An Alternative Perspective For Earthquake Survival!

There is an opposing viewpoint concerning the “duck and cover” routine which is typically taught for an individual’s earthquake response.

Earthquake survival ‘TRIANGLE OF LIFE’.
My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world’s most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn’t at the time know that the children were told to hide under something. I am amazed that even today schools are still using the ‘Duck and Cover’ Instructions – telling the children to squat under their desks with their heads bowed and covered with their hands. This was the technique used in the Mexico City school.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Almost everyone who simply ‘ducks and covers’ when buildings collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.
2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. That position helps you survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.
3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs. Concrete slab buildings are the most dangerous during an earthquake.
4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.
5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.
6) Almost everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!
7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different ‘moment of frequency (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads. Horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.
8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible – It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.
9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and lying in the fetal position next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.
10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul , University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my ‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results.

The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover. There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the ‘triangle of life.’ This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe , and it was seen in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.

Spread the word and save someone’s life… The entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

NOTE: Controversy surrounds the ‘duck & cover’ method vs the “triangle of life’ method.
Readers should draw their own conclusions as to which method they believe
to be of the most benefit to their own survival. What to do after an earthquake


Listen to a battery-operated radio, emergency broadcast radio or television for the latest emergency information.  Emergency broadcasts will inform you of available medical, fire and emergency services.


If telephone and/or cellular telephone service is available, make emergency calls only.  Remember, emergency response personnel will need clear lines of communication and people will need to call hospitals and 911.


Stay away from damaged areas.  Do not approach unless your assistance is requested by police or fire and rescue, relief organizations or emergency response teams.

If you smell gasoline or natural gas odors, leave the area immediately.  If you see the presence of flammable liquids, leave the area immediately.  Be aware of downed power lines.

Go into buildings only when it is safe.  Be aware of falling debris.


Help people who are injured or trapped.  Do Not forget your neighbors who may have special needs which require special assistance such as the elderly, the very young (infants), and those with disabilities.  If you are in a business setting, check on your co-workers.

Give first aid where appropriate.  Do Not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.  Call for help when necessary.

Damaged Homes:

Check for natural gas leaks.  If you smell gas, hear a blowing or hissing sound, open a window or door and leave the building as soon as possible.  If you know where the outside main valve is for your gas supply, turn off the gas.  Call the gas company from a neighbor’s house or from your cellular phone and inform them of the leak.  DO NOT attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.  Leave that to the professionals.  There may be more damage to the lines or appliances than you are aware of.

Look for cut electrical lines and connections for damage.  Sparks, electrical arks, broken or frayed electrical lines or the smell of hot insulation indicates electrical damage.  Turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or at the circuit breaker.  Remember that water and electricity do not mix.  Avoid stepping into any water that has electrical lines in contact with the water. Call your electrical company to inform them of the electrical outage or problem.

Check for sewage line damage.  Avoid using toilets if you can see or suspect that sewage lines are damaged.  Call your sewage system provider to report the damage.

Check the water lines for damage.  If water pipes are damaged or leaking, contact your water company to report the damage.  If water lines have been ruptured or are leaking, avoid drinking the water as it may be contaminated.  Call your water company to inform them of the damage.

If your home has a chimney, inspect the chimney’s entire length for damage.  A break in the interior/exterior construction of the chimney could result in a fire if used.  Check the chimney for stability to determine if it is structurally sound.  Remember, falling debris can kill.Useful Earthquake Links

Did you feel that?   If you did. . .  .
Was that an elephant walking by or an earthquake?

 Monitoring Earthquakes Across the U.S.

Are you prepared for the Great Central U.S. Shake Out?

Click on the links below to “Be Prepared!”

Science In Your Backyard: Missouri [sponsored by the USGC]
 Click here to learn more about Missouri earthquakes and geology
related topics.

 Click here to see world and local maps of recent earthquake activity.

 To view satellite images of earth, click here.

To view videos for earthguakes
and other disasters (developed for kids), click here .

FEMA for Kids: Earthquakes, click here.

To view The Disaster Area – Fact or Fiction website, click here.

 Click logo to view:
Recommended Earthquake Safety
View Earthquake Scenarios
Earthquake guide
Shake Out Spotlights
Frequently Asked Questions
Shake Out Participant Updates
Earthquake Guide For People With Disabilities
To view The Great Central U.S. Shake Out in Espanol

 MO Department of Natural Resources
Facts about the New Madrid Seismic Zone!

 Triangle Of Life
An alternative view to the Drop & Cover safety procedure.
Triangle of Life video (youtube) 
*Warning. Some images and videos located on this website, or associated
with this website are graphic in nature

 Earthquake Country Alliance
Drop, Cover and Hold On method for earthquake response

Earthquake Facts about the New Madrid Seismic Zone

Click the MO DNR logo above to view information about the
New Madrid Fault Zone

Brush Fire Information


Missouri Department of Public Safety
Brush and land wildfires can present a serious threat to both lives and property.

High winds, warmer temperatures, and drought conditions make fire seasons progressively worse. The incidence of brush fires rose dramatically in Missouri during the summer of 2012, when extreme drought conditions persisted as the state experienced the worst drought conditions in decades.  As drought conditions intensify, the incidence of brush fires and land wildfires increases dramatically.  Each fire can become a dramatic, destructive force which can get out of control in a matter of minutes.

Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, show that wildfires across the U.S. have burned over 59 million acres in the past decade.  The wildfire trend will continue as vast areas of the Midwest and western states continue to experience dramatic reductions in rainfall annually.

To learn more about these topics, click to MO Dept. of Public Safety logo above.
Fire Escape Planning              Fire Safety For Kids                  Home Heating Safety
Fireworks Safety                     Outdoor Burning/Brush Fire Safety
Holliday Fire Safety                 Outdoor Cooking Safety            Smoke/Fire AlarmsUseful Brush Fire Links

Website for kids  Club Fire Facts Kids Corner 

Sparky.org Kids Page 

U.S. Fire Administration For Kids 

Pandemic Flu

What does “pandemic flu” mean?  Pandemic is defined by Webster’s dictionary as, “occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”  The outbreak would be global. The flu is short for influenza. Influenza is a highly contagious disease caused by various strains of the virus. The disease is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, prostration, severe aches and pains, and progressive inflammation
of the respiratory mucous membranes.

Pandemic flu –  A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily from person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in a very short time.

Information for Individuals & Families

You should prepare for a pandemic flu outbreak now.  Knowing what can happen during a pandemic outbreak and what actions you can take to protect yourself and your family and lesson the impact of an influenza pandemic on you and your family is vital.  Planning for a pandemic outbreak, various methods to prevent the spread of germs and prevent infection, items to have on hand for an extended stay at home, and much more are covered at the web-sites below.  The information is presented in a variety of languages.

Pandemic Flu Planning Checklist

Family Emergency Health Information Sheet

Information for Schools

Local educational agencies play an integral role in protecting the health and safety of their district’s staff, students and their families. Building a strong relationship with the local health department is critical for developing a meaningful plan. Integral components of an effective plan would include:

Planning and Coordination
Continuity of Student Learning and Core Operations
Infection Control Policies and Procedures
Communications Planning

Information for Healthcare: Hospitals/Clinics/EMS

Planning for pandemic influenza is critical for ensuring a sustainable healthcare response. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed the following checklist to help medical offices and clinics and emergency medical services and transports.

Hospital Pandemic Influenza Planning ChecklistMedical Offices and Clinics Checklist

Emergency Medical Services and Non-Emergent (Medical) Transport Organizations
Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist

Information for Community Organizers

The collaboration of Faith-Based and Community Organizations with public health agencies will be essential in protecting the public’s health and safety if and when an influenza pandemic occurs.

Health Care: Home Care/Long-Term Care/Residential Care

Home health agencies will likely be called upon to provide care for patients who do not require hospitalization for pandemic influenza, or for whom hospitalization is not an option because hospitals have reached their capacity to admit patients. Is your facility prepared?

Home Health Care Services Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist [En Español (PDF)]
Emergency Medical Service and Medical Transport Checklist [PDF]

Long-Term Care and Other Residential Facilities Pandemic Influenza Planning

Checklists are available which are intended to aid you in preparation for a pandemic flu outbreak.  The checklists have been prepared in a coordinated and consistent manner for all segments of society.  Also available is information concerning the reduction of risk factors (your exposure to the virus) in private homes, businesses, schools, social settings, and industry.

To obtain additional information concerning pandemic flu, please click this banner.

Documents in PDF format require Adobe Acrobat Reader®.  If you experience problems while working with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®.

Power Outages

Power Line Hazards/Electrical Shock

  • Overhead and buried power lines are especially hazardous as they carry extremely high voltage.  Fatal electrocution is the main risk, but burns and loss of limbs are also hazards.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from downed power lines!  Assume that any downed power line is “energized”.  Keep children away from downed power lines.  Keep pets away from downed power lines.
  • Unplug computers, televisions, stereos and any other electrical equipment that may be damaged if the power “surges” when the power is restored.
  • Do not go near electrical equipment that is in areas of standing water; pooled water/flooded basement.
  • Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders when working near power lines.
  • De-energize and ground power lines when working near them.  Make sure the power is OFF!
    • IF you are uncertain as to whether the power is off or not – leave the area for your safety.
    • Call Ameren UE to report downed lines immediately; call us here
    • AmerenUE 314-342-1000 (St. Louis area), 800-552-7583
    • AmerenCIPS 888-789-2477
    • AmerenCILCO 888-672-5252
    • AmerenIP 800-755-5000

Soft Drinking Water

Drink only bottled water if flooding has occurred.
Boil water to make it safe.

Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms.  If water is cloudy, filter it with clean cloths or allow it to settle; draw off the clear water for boiling.  Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.

Disinfect water using household bleach.

Bleach will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water.  Add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) or regular, unscented, liquid household bleach to each gallon of water.  Stir the water well and then let it stand for 30 minutes before drinking it (using it).

If you have a well.

The water within the well will not be accessible while the power is out.

Safe Food Supply

If the power is out for longer than 4 hours, follow these guidelines:
Keeping food cold (40°F or less) is essential to prevent bacterial growth . . .

  • Never taste the food to determine if it is safe to eat!
  • The Freezer: A freezer that is half-full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
  • The Refrigerated: The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.  Place milk, other dairy products, meats, fish, eggs, gravies, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler and pack them with ice. The use of inexpensive Styrofoam coolers is fine for this purpose.
  • Dry ice or block ice can be used inside your refrigerator to keep the food cold.  Plan ahead.  Know where you can obtain ice when the power goes out.
  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook it or eat it. Throw away any food(s) that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

As the Boy Scouts Say, “Be Prepared.”

  • Have food items on hand that does not require refrigeration; foods that can be eaten cold (without heating); foods that could be heated on an outdoor grill and eaten.
  • Foods that are shelf-stable such as canned goods, canned milk, bottled water, boxed, dry foods and dehydrated foods should be part of the emergency food stockpile.
    Hint: handheld can opener is essential.
  • Cooked breads and pasteries that are not potentially hazardous have a relatively short shelf-life but do not require refrigeration.
  • Following charts courtesy of the USDA – Food Safety & Inspection Service

Refridgerator Foods

When to Save and When to Throw It Out
FOODHeld above 40 °F for over 2 hours
Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes
Thawing meat or poultryDiscard
Meat, tuna, shrimp,chicken, or egg saladDiscard
Gravy, stuffing, brothDiscard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beefDiscard
Pizza – with any toppingDiscard
Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated”Discard
Canned meats and fish, openedDiscard
Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco
Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, RomanoSafe
Processed CheesesSafe
Shredded CheesesDiscard
Low-fat CheesesDiscard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar)Safe
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk
Butter, margarineSafe
Baby formula, openedDiscard
Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products
Custards and puddingsDiscard
Fresh fruits, cut
Fruit juices, openedSafe
Canned fruits, openedSafe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, datesSafe
Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish
Discard if above 50 °F for over 8 hrs.
Peanut butterSafe
Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, picklesSafe
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, Hoisin saucesSafe
Fish sauces (oyster sauce)Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressingsSafe
Opened creamy-based dressingsDiscard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jarDiscard
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas
Refrigerator biscuits,rolls, cookie doughDiscard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoesDiscard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigretteDiscard
Fresh pastaDiscard
Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes, bagelsSafe
Pastries, cream filled
Pies – custard,cheese filled, or chiffon; quicheDiscard
Pies, fruitSafe
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packagedDiscard
Vegetables, rawSafe
Vegetables, cooked; tofuDiscard
Vegetable juice, openedDiscard
Baked potatoesDiscard
Commercial garlic in oilDiscard
Potato SaladDiscard

Freezer Foods

When to Save and When To Throw It Out
FOODStill contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigeratedThawed.
Held above 40 °F for over 2 hours
Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meats
Poultry and ground poultryRefreezeDiscard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings)RefreezeDiscard
Casseroles, stews, soupsRefreezeDiscard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood productsRefreeze. However, there will be some texture and flavor loss.Discard
Refreeze. May lose some texture.Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg productsRefreezeDiscard
Ice cream, frozen yogurtDiscardDiscard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft)Refreeze. May lose some texture.Discard
Hard cheesesRefreezeRefreeze
Shredded cheesesRefreezeDiscard
Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheesesRefreezeDiscard
RefreezeRefreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.
Home or commercially packagedRefreeze. Will change texture and flavor.Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops.
RefreezeDiscard after held above 40 °F for 6 hours.
Home or commercially packaged or blanchedRefreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss.Discard after held above 40 °F for 6 hours.
Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings)
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese fillingRefreezeDiscard
Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread doughRefreeze. Some quality loss may occur.Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable.
Casseroles – pasta, rice based
Flour, cornmeal, nutsRefreezeRefreeze
Breakfast items –waffles, pancakes, bagelsRefreezeRefreeze
Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie,convenience foods)RefreezeDiscard

Consumers are encouraged to view the Public Service Announcement Video at:http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news/Food_Safety_Videos/ or Power Outage

The American Red Cross has information concerning “How To” save food during an outage. “Help! The Power is Out . . .” This information can help you prepare for your family’s survival during a power outage.
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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

One of the common tools utilized following the loss of power are portable generators. Most generators are gasoline-powered and use internal combustion engines to produce electricity.  Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas produced during the operation of gasoline-powered generators. When inhaled, the gas reduces your ability to utilize oxygen. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, and tiredness that can lead to unconsciousness and ultimately prove fatal.

  • Do Not bring a generator indoors.
    • Be sure it is located outdoors in a location where the exhaust gases cannot enter a home or building.
    • Good ventilation is the key.
  • Be sure the main circuit breaker is OFF and locked out prior to starting your generator.
    • This prevents inadvertent energization of the power lines from feedback electrical energy from the generator; thus protecting power utility line workers.
  • Turn off the generator and let it cool before refueling

Temperatures – Extreme Heat and Cold


 Be aware of your risk for heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and fainting.

Heatstroke is the most serious heat illness. Heat strokes occur when the body cannot control its own temperature, thus the body’s temperature rises rapidly. Your body’s ability to sweat fails, therefore the body cannot cool down. Your body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heatstroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency care is not given.

 Symptoms of heat exhaustion and stroke.
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (results from not sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness
  • An extremely high body temperature; above 103°F
If you suspect someone has heatstroke, follow these instructions:
Immediately call for medical attention.
  1. Get the person to a cooler area.
  2. Cool the person rapidly by immersing him/her cool water or a cool shower, or spraying or sponging him/her with cool water. If the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him/her vigorously.
  3. Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  4. Do not give the person alcohol to drink. Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
  5. If emergency medical personnel do not arrive quickly, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
 To avoid heat stress, you should:
  • Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes and at least one gallon each day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They both dehydrate the body.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Take frequent cool showers or baths.
  • If you feel dizzy, weak, or overheated, go to a cool place. Sit or lie down, drink water, and wash your face with cool water. If you don’t feel better soon, get medical help quickly.
  • Work during cooler hours of the day when possible, or distribute the workload evenly throughout the day.

Be aware of your risk for Hypothermia.  Hypothermia happens when a person’s core body temperature becomes lower than 35°C (95°F).

Hypothermia has three levels: acute, subacute, and chronic.

  • Acute hypothermia is caused by a rapid loss of body heat, usually from immersion in cold water.
  • Subacute hypothermia often happens in cool outdoor weather (below 10°C or 50°F) when wind chill, wet or too little clothing, fatigue, and/or poor nutrition lower the body’s ability to cope with cold.
  • Chronic hypothermia happens from ongoing exposure to cold indoor temperatures (below 16°C or 60°F). The poor, the elderly, people who have hypothyroidism, people who take sedative-hypnotics, and drug and alcohol abusers are prone to chronic hypothermia, and they typically:
    • misjudge cold
    • move slowly
    • have poor nutrition
    • wear too little clothing
    • have a poor heating system
To Avoid Hypothermia, you should:
  • Avoid swimming or wading in water if possible.
    • If entering water is necessary:
      • Wear high rubber boots in water.
      • Ensure clothing and boots have adequate insulation.
      • Avoid working/playing alone.
      • Take frequent breaks out of the water.
        • Change into dry clothing when possible.
  • Everyone, especially the elderly and ill, should have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and sources of heat.
  • Blankets can help, even in poorly heated rooms.
  • Wear layers of clothing and a hat, which help to keep in body heat.
  • Move around. Physical activity raises body temperature.
  • Water cooler than 75°F (24°C) removes body heat more rapidly than can be replaced. The result is hypothermia.

Emergencies come unexpectedly. Being prepared can be the difference
between life and death.
Being prepared for emergencies can make a difference!


Many putative definitions of terrorism define “terrorism” only as those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal and by a member or members of a group (as opposed to being carried out in a lone attack), and which deliberately target, or else disregard the safety of, non-combatants (civilians). Many definitions also include only acts of unlawful violence as opposed to “lawful acts of war”.

On October 9, 2007, the President issued an updated National Strategy for Homeland Security, which will serve to guide, organize, and unify our Nation’s homeland security efforts. This Strategy is a national strategy – not a Federal strategy – and articulates our approach to secure the Homeland over the next several years.

Clicking this banner will take you directly to the Homeland Security website.

Click on these links for additional information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Serivces about what you can do to prepare and/or respond to various acts of terrorism:

The Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism protects the lives and health of all Missourians from natural and man-made public health threats through prevention, early detection, and rapid, coordinated response to emergencies and disasters.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
P.O. Box 570
Jefferson City, MO 65102


Telephone: 573.526.4768 / 1.800.392.0272
Fax: 573.522.8636

Missouri Receives High Marks on Emergency Preparedness Assessment

Check it out here

Emergency Plans

Child Emergency Preparedness

When hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, children were rescued, but many children that were separated from their parents were unable to give officials information about their families.  Many of the children did not know their parent’s first names.  Some children did not know their own last name or know where they lived (street or city).
This made it almost impossible for authorities to find their parents and reunite the families. The children (and their families) were not properly prepared for this type of emergency.
Are you? 

You protect your family and your children daily. Protection can be as simple as holding their hand while they cross a street or buckling up with a seat belt in the car.
For parents, protecting their family is priority one.

Protecting families is also a priority at St.Francois County Health Center.  We would like to take this opportunity to help you better prepare for emergencies with your families. 

Let’s Get Ready Planning Together for Emergencies is sponsored by Sesame Street.  When visiting their website you will find information about preparing for emergencies.  There are activities, tips and other easy ways to help the whole family prepare for emergencies together!!


 This link is sponsored by the American Public Health Association. Watch a video that teaches the importance of emergency preparedness. This video is appropriate for younger children.

This link is sponsored by the Sesame Street.  Plan together (the entire family) for emergencies.

This link is sponsored by Sesame Street.  This site has a fill-in-the-blank form which may be downloaded and printed.  Once completed, the form contains important contact information for your family members and tracks important people and places involved in your family’s emergency plan.

This link is sponsored by Sesame Street.  This site, through a series of activities and games, you and your children can discover how to get ready for emergencies together.  Topics covered include:
1) Make an Emergency Plan with your family
2) Help your child Learn and Practice personal information
3) Create a Family Emergency Kit

Emergency Planning for Families

Emergencies come unexpectedly.  Being prepared can be the difference between life and death.  Prepare for emergencies before they happen.

  Local, State, and Federal agencies have plans for various emergency responses.  Their responses are typically on a massive scale.  What about an emergency response for you and your family during/after a catastrophe?
Do you have a plan for emergency response?
YOU Are Responsible For Your Own Safety In An Emergency!

St. Francois County Health Center and the
Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services recommends
“Ready in 3” – Three steps to prepare for an emergency.

Click the “Ready In 3” logo for more information A Family Plan Should Include:

1. Family Information
Information for each family member would include:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Telephone number (home and cellular)
  • Doctor’s name and telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Special medical information
  • Insurance information
  • Their usual location (day or night)

2. Workplace Information/School Information/Day Care Information
 Addresses and telephone numbers for each

3. Nearest Relative(s) Information
Names, Addresses and telephone numbers

4. A plan of how to stay in contact if separated by disaster
Choose two meeting places; primary & secondary

5. Choose an out-of-town friend or family member as a contact for
everyone to call
Name, address, telephone (home/work/cellular)

6. Designate a room in your home to stay in for several days

7. Designate a place where your family will be able to stay for several days in case of evacuation including the address and telephone number of location or site.

An Emergency Kit Checklist:

These items should be part of your emergency kit and kept in a container that can be easily carried.

 Bottled Water 1 gallon/person/day – 3 day supply
Canned/Dried Foods  (opener)Non-perishable – 3 day supply 
 Battery-powered RadioSpare Batteries 
Flashlight Formula  Baby Food 
First-Aid Kit  Baby Diapers 
Prescription Medicine(s) Extra Clothing 
Extra Credit Card/Money Sturdy shoes/boots 
Trash Bags Blankets 
Toilet PaperToiletries 
Pet Items Matches (waterproof container) 

Missouri Department of Health & Senior
Services Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism,
P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO  65102

Emergency Planning for Businesses

Will your business survive a disaster?  Twenty-five percent of businesses never re-open following a natural disaster.  Ninety percent of businesses that are affected by a significant event are forced to close within two years.  Boonslick Regional Planning Commission can help you with each step of creating a business continuity plan.  There is no cost to you except the time it takes to complete the form.  Click here for more information or go to www.boonslick.org

About Boonslick Regional Planning Commission – Serving Lincoln, Montgomery & Warren Counties

Boonslick provides professional services such as grant preparation and administration, solid waste administration, community planning, transportation planning, environmental planning, GIS
and mapping services, data management, and disaster relief.
 While Boonslicks’s primary focus is on the communities in the counties it serves, the emergency/disaster information provided at their website is outstanding.

Please click on the link below. This will take you to a “Fillable” MS Word Doc that you can use to create your own Business Continuity Plan. Open the document and save it to your desktop, then begin filling it out.  When completed, you can print the document for your records or save it to your computer or server.

Services Available for Businesses

Businesses will find helpful information on the Business USA website.
A variety of available services and resources are provided.

Emergency Planning of Mass Centers

A disaster can strike practically anytime, anywhere- a storm, plane crash, flood, chemical spill, terrorist attack. Although these emergencies are different, they all have one crucial element in common: large numbers of people could be forced from their homes with little to no warning. During or following a disaster, homes and businesses may be inaccessible, destroyed or uninhabitable.  Individuals forced to evacuate, need a place to go until it is safe to return home. They may need to stay for only a few hours, but it could be for days, even weeks. Under such stressful conditions, it is essential to maintain basic human survival needs such as shelter, safe food, and potable water. While this is a simple concept, providing a consistent and ample supply of safe food and water in a safe environment is a major challenge full of potential problems.

While there will always be countless variables for which pre-planning is impossible, there are crucial elements that can be addressed that remain constant regardless of the emergency or community. Because disasters affect communities, they require a community response. Emergency shelters and mass feeding sites provided during a disaster are often operated by private organizations. When planning an emergency shelter, contact should be made with the Emergency Management Director of the local jurisdiction, as well as, fire and rescue, law and code enforcement, hospitals, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, local churches, health care providers, and service/civic groups. Partnering with these organizations provides vital insight in choosing a shelter site that meets the needs from their perspective, as well as, including public health, security, and life safety.

Additionally, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has created a guide to introduce and discuss some of the many aspects of planning for and opening an emergency shelter. This guide is an excellent tool to provide to Shelter Coordinators and staff. This guide can be found at this website (click to open).

Finally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also developed an Environmental Health Shelter Assessment Tool located at the following web site: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/shelterassessment/ to be used by Environmental Public Health Specialist in conducting a rapid assessment of shelter conditions during emergencies and disasters. The tool is an assessment form that covers 14 general areas of environmental health, ranging from basic food safety and water quality to pet/companion animal wellness, and allows for the documentation of immediate needs in shelters. It can be easily modified to meet local needs.

Emergency Shelters

Generally, sites such as churches, schools, hotels, arenas, and community building, are preferred as these facilities normally contain the right mix of amenities to make them ideal for emergency shelters. However, the site is only a portion of the equation; properly trained staff is also critical. In regard to life safety, the emergency shelter site should provide:

Accessibility to persons with disabilities

  • Enough sleeping space with provisions to provide separate spaces for families, single men, and single women
  •  A main entrance with several remote emergency exits
  • Exits signs and emergency lighting
  • Fire detection
  • Accessible grounded outlets
  • Emergency electrical generator(s) or transfer switch hook-up
  • Ample parking
  • Compliance with applicable fire and safety codes
  • Personal safety and security from on-site law enforcement

While the shelter may not provide medical service to shelter residents, it is possible that some of the people who come to the shelter will be sick when they arrive. There could be illnesses ranging from a common cold or stomach virus to more serious diseases such as hepatitis or even tuberculosis. At a minimum, the following should be considered:

  1. Adequate hand-sink facilities with warm running water, and ample supplies of soap and paper towels. Proper handwashing is critical to lowering the risk of disease transmission.
  2. Ensure the site is well stocked with cleaning/disinfecting supplies.
  3. Provide training for volunteers in proper cleaning and disinfection methods.
  4. Provide separate, approved receptacles for medical waste, such as sharps containers for syringes, and red trash bags for medical waste.

 Of course, in addition to a safe place to stay, two of the most basic human survival needs are food and water. There are many considerations that must be addressed when providing emergency mass feeding services.

Mass Feeding Centers


The ideal site for a mass feeding operation is a building already equipped with suitable foodservice equipment. Satisfactory sites include a school lunchroom, a church, or a club facility where meals for large numbers of people can be safely prepared and served. Temporary structures, such as mess tents and mobile food units, may be an acceptable alternative when a permanent facility cannot be acquired. The site should include:

  • Adequate storage
  • Adequate refrigeration equipment
  • Equipment capable of maintaining hot foods hot and cold foods cold
  • Hot and cold running water
  • Large ranges and sufficient work surfaces
  • Adequate dishwashing areas
  • Handwashing facilities*
  • Staff/volunteers trained in safe food handling techniques

*Handwashing facilities shall be provided in food preparation areas and in restrooms. Handwashing facilities shall be provided with clean hot and cold running water, soap, paper towels (hand drying device) and trashcan. If plumbed hand washing facilities are not feasible, a temporary handwashing station may be provided.



Safe drinking water is the most critical necessity to human survival and one that is often directly affected by disasters. A safe water supply shall be provided. If the center’s water source is a private or non-community water supply, the Environmental Public Health Specialist (EPHS) should test the water for safety just prior to the site beginning operations.

In situations where the water supply has been compromised, the center shall:
1. Provide bottled water;
2. Use a safe, approved alternative water supply; or
3. Boil/disinfect water in accordance with Chapter 7.0 Drinking Water in this manual.


One of the many unavoidable realities of life is that wherever there are people there will be waste. It is a fact that the basic processes of living create waste, including paper, plastic, food refuse, as well as human waste. Because waste is also a reality of shelter living, a plan must be in place to effectively handle facility waste, while the shelter and/or mass feeding site is operating. If the site is not served by a public wastewater system, one or more of the following shall be provided:
1. An onsite wastewater treatment system operating in accordance with Missouri’s laws and regulations, or applicable local ordinance. The EPHS should evaluate the system prior to the site beginning operations;
2. In cases where no system is available, a properly functioning and maintained temporary holding tank may be a suitable alternative; and/or
3. In cases where the system’s capacity is limited, portable toilets may be appropriate. For other solid waste (trash/garbage), an adequate number and size of garbage bins, trash cans, and trash bags must be provided. Trash and other solid waste shall be stored in a location away from food preparation, storage and service areas until trash collection service resumes.


All persons volunteering to work at the center should be properly oriented before they begin work. Personal hygiene for food service workers includes:
1. Frequent hand washing – particularly after using the toilet and after handling materials or equipment that may be contaminated.
2. No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
3. Clean hands, body, hair, and clothing.
4. Excluding people that are ill from working in a food service capacity.


If possible, a mass feeding operation should be supervised by someone who has experience with foodservice operations. At a minimum, a person in charge should be designated.


Added to issues of adequate food quality, quantity, and variety are the potentially serious risks of foodborne illness. Even for a temporary center, the following should be implemented:
1. All foods shall come from an approved source, in sound condition (No home-canned or prepared goods; with the exception of baked cookies and cakes, etc).
2. All potentially hazardous foods must be cooked, held, reheated, and stored at temperatures in accordance with the Food Code requirements or applicable local ordinance. Centers shall have adequate refrigeration and hot/cold holding equipment.
3. Foods shall be stored to prevent contamination (Stored six inches off the floor, away from toxic chemicals/substances, raw meats below ready-to-eat foods and fresh fruits and vegetables).
4. Regular cleaning of the food preparation area and feeding area. This includes washing, rinsing, sanitizing and air-drying food equipment and utensils.

Telephone Numbers

St. Francois county Police Departments

Department:Phone Number:
Bismarck Police Department573.734.2777
Bonne Terre Police Department573.358.3554
Desloge Police Department573.431.1463
Farmington Police Department573.756.6686
Iron Mountain Lake Police Department573.734.6282
Leadington Police Department573.431.5637
Leadwood Police Department573.562.7337
Park Hills Police Department573.431.3122
Terre Du Lac Police Department573.358.5701

St.Francois County Sheriff Department

St. Francois County Fire Departments

Department:Phone Number:
Big River Fire Department573.358.2737
Bismarck Fire Department573.734.2557
Bonne Terre Fire Department573.358.2200
Desloge Fire Department573.431.4487
Doe Run Fire Department573.756.2746
Farmington Fire Department573.756.2324
Goose Creek Fire Department573.358.3282
Lake Timberline Fire Department573.358.3681
Leadington Fire Department573.431.4531
Leadwood Fire Department573.562.7511
Park Hills Fire Department573.431.2381
Terre Du Lac Fire Department573.358.4445
Wolf Creek Fire Department573.756.8747

St. Francois County Ambulance District