(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Many of our local school districts will dismiss for spring break this year, from March 14 through 18, as a way to give staff, students and families some well-earned time away.

Spring break provides opportunities for us to enjoy our local communities, or to take pass or leave for travel. While we want everyone to enjoy this time of year, the onset of warmer weather comes with increased activity, and sadly, increased numbers of emergency room and doctor visits. Analyze risk, stay safe and stay connected to teammates.

With St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness also occurring during spring break this year, expect increased traffic and a larger law enforcement presence on the roads. Be vigilant and do not drive tired, distracted or under the influence — alcohol increases risk in every activity by slowing response times and clouding vision and judgment. Be prepared for thunderstorms, rapid rainfall and flash flooding. Adjust speed lower for inclement conditions and never drive into flowing streams of water.

Remember that drivers and riders of motorcycles and all-terrain or utility vehicles must complete all required training and licensing, and wear required protective gear including a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet, clothes that cover all of your skin and boots for drivers and passengers.

Be safe in other outdoor activities as well, including sports, fire pits, grilling, yardwork and the use of ladders or water features. If you use recreational shooting ranges, or plan on participating in spring turkey hunting season in April, follow weapons safety and all regulations and laws.

Please also note that the time change back to daylight saving time on March 13 — when clocks are moved one hour ahead — offers a reminder to change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

As personnel take leave, and as we prepare for summer transitions, be an effective presence in the lives of those in your care. Stay involved and know your teammates. Lead during hand-offs. Provide counseling and available resources. Conduct sponsorship activities, extend a warm welcome, and use chain of command, family readiness groups and social media to communicate with trainees, students and their family members, along with family members of cadre.

Be safe, manage risk and engage with those in your care. We are proud to serve with you!

Victory Starts Here — Victory Through Skill!