We may have seen the last of Old Man Winter, but as winter fades to spring, the area faces a different kind of weather threat – thunder storms and tornadoes.
“Everyone should stop and think about being prepared for an emergency situation,” said Barton County Emergency Management Director Amy Miller. “You never know when something will happen or where it will happen.”
To remind Kansans to be prepared, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a proclamation Feb. 26 designating March 14-18 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas.
During the week, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management will urge Kansans to check their emergency kit supplies for their home, office and vehicle, and review their emergency plans to make sure they are prepared for whatever severe weather is thrown our way.
“It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money to ensure you and your family are prepared,” said Angee Morgan, KDEM deputy director. “If you don’t already have an emergency kit, start now by buying a few extra batteries and high-energy snacks during your weekly shopping. Throw a change of clothes, an old pair of glasses and a pair of shoes in your kit.
“Check your first aid kit and make sure it’s complete and up-to-date,” said Morgan. “Doing a little bit each week makes it easier to prepare for unexpected events, particularly when you get the entire family involved in gathering the supplies and making an emergency plan.
“If you don’t have a specially-constructed storm shelter or a basement, do you know where the safest place in your home is? Do you know how to safely shut off the gas or electricity? If you become separated, do you have a meeting area? How will you communicate with family members who may not be at home when a disaster hits or your loved ones who will be wondering about your safety? These are the things you will need to think about when making your plan.”
Morgan said more information on emergency preparedness and building an emergency kit can be found online at www.ksready.gov.
Kansans are also urged to take part in the statewide tornado safety drill Tuesday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. across most of the state; Atchison, Doniphan, Johnson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte Counties will conduct their drill at 1:30 p.m. If severe weather is imminent for a community, the tornado drill will be cancelled for that community.
According to the National Weather Service, the first tornado of 2015 occurred April 2 in Labette County and the last tornado was on Nov. 16. Last year, there were 33 days with more than one tornado reported. The most tornadoes reported in one day was 22.
In all, there were 126 confirmed tornadoes in the state last year, 85 more than hit the state in 2014. On average, Kansas experiences 96 tornadoes a year.
Take care and be prepared. Ultimately, our safety in our hands.