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Severe weather season is coming and we can be sure of one thing – somewhere, sometime in the coming months, Kansas is going to be hit with a severe storm, tornado, flooding and flash floods. Based on past years, we’ll be hit with severe weather more than once.
Now is the time to prepare.
To urge Kansans to start planning for springtime weather-related emergencies, Gov. Sam Brownback will sign a proclamation Thursday, Feb. 27, designating March 3-7 as “Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas.” The proclamation coincides with the national Severe Weather Awareness Week.
“It just makes sense to plan ahead and heed storm warnings,” said Brownback. “This winter, when snowstorms were forecast, Kansans by and large did the wise thing and stayed off the roads as much as possible and made sure their emergency kits were stocked. Even though warmer weather is coming, we need to continue to be prepared and alert to the possibility of severe weather.”
According to the National Weather Service, Kansas had 56 tornadoes in 2013, including 15 in one day; 45 of those tornadoes hit in May. However, Angee Morgan, deputy director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, said that does not mean May is the most dangerous month for severe weather.
“Our first tornado hit April 7 in Russell County,” said Morgan. “The last one was August 13 in Lane County. That’s 128 days from the first to the last. And although 2013 was the quietest season since 1994, that doesn’t mean this season will be the same. Our advice is to always be prepared.”
Morgan said a home emergency kit should include everything needed for each family member to survive for a minimum of three days without power. Kits should include one gallon of water per person per day; nonperishable, high energy foods; a battery powered NOAA weather radio; flashlights; extra batteries; a safe, alternate heat source; blankets; medications and other essentials. Additional information about preparing an emergency kit may be found online at www.ksready.gov.
Morgan also advised everyone to have emergency plan for their home or place of business and ensure that everyone knows the plan.
“If you don’t have a storm shelter, make sure you know where the nearest shelter is,” said Morgan. “Designate a place to meet in case you become separated or how you will communicate if land lines and cell phone towers are knocked out. Review safety rules regarding downed power lines and broken gas lines. Once you have your plan in place, practice it so everyone knows what to do.”
To help get more people involved in emergency preparedness, KDEM has instituted an online “Kansas Preparedness Challenge.” Completing each monthly challenge makes participants eligible for a prize drawing. Go to www.ksready.gov and click on the “Kansas Preparedness Challenge” link to get started.