As the upcoming spring storm season looms, Great Bend will participate in the annual statewide tornado drill, Great Bend Police Department Capt. Bob Robinson said.
In a change from years gone by, the sirens will sound at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. In the past, the drill has taken place in the afternoon.
In addition to the sirens sounding, Robinson said GBPD officers will run their tornado warning routes throughout the city.
He stressed that these are all outside alerts. Those holed up inside may not hear them.
However, if one is outdoors and fails to hear the alarms, they should contact the captain. This may mean one of the sirens is malfunctioning.
He said the test will only take place if the weather is nice. If the skies are threatening, the test will be postponed.
Why the time change?
“The drill is being held at 6:30 p.m. this year to encourage everyone to develop a safety plan for their homes and to discuss it with their family members,” said Amy Miller, Barton County emergency management director.
The annual test is important, Miller said. “Everyone should stop and think about being prepared for an emergency situation. You never know when something will happen or where it will happen.”
People need to be aware of their surroundings and changing situations, Miller said. “Although I remind everyone to be prepared, I do not just mean severe weather.”
Being prepared also means: taking a first aid class so one will be prepared if a family member severely cuts themselves in the kitchen or on a camping trip; keeping immunizations up to date since a tetanus shot at the health department now is cheaper than a tetanus shot at the Emergency Room when you are working in the yard and end up with a dirty wound and 14 stitches; thinking about how to take cover at home, or work, or while traveling in the event that a rain shower turns into something worse; looking for the exits when you enter a hotel or business just in case a fire breaks out or an altercation between strangers breaks out.
“Be prepared and be aware,” Miller said. “It might save your life or the life of someone else.”
Regular tests to begin
In addition, starting at noon Tuesday, March 22, the city will initiate its weekly siren testing. Weather permitting, the sirens will sound briefly each Tuesday.
Officers will not be running their routes during these events, Robinson said.