We have had our share of bad weather in this area, from tornadoes to severe thunderstorms to flooding. These can happen with plenty of warning, or not. This just highlights the capricious nature of our unpredictable spring weather and the need to be prepared for it, particularly during what is known as the severe storm season of April through June.
To remind Kansans to be prepared for severe weather, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a proclamation Feb. 17 designating this as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas. During the week, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management will place special emphasis on reminding Kansans to be mindful of severe weather alerts and to make sure they are prepared.
Kansans are also urged to take part in the statewide tornado safety drill at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 7. If severe weather is imminent on March 7, the backup date for the tornado drill will be at the same time Thursday, March 9.
“Check your home emergency kit to make sure it has everything you need,” said Angee Morgan, deputy director of KDEM. “Replace outdated items. Make sure flashlights and battery-operated radios are working and test the backup batteries. If you don’t have an emergency kit, now is a good time to start putting one together.”
Morgan said there are many good checklists available online to use as guidelines for putting a kit together. Common items include water, high-energy snacks, important medications and first aid supplies. Also, keep the family pets in mind.
Morgan said the week is also a good time to sit down with your family and review your home emergency plan. Then, practice it.
KDEM also wants reminds Kansans that a storm does not have to include a tornado to be dangerous. Severe thunderstorms may include high straight-line winds that can knock down trees and power lines and even buildings. There is also the possibility of large hail is another factor to consider, as is the prospect of lightning and floods.
“When the weather looks threatening, we have tendency to go stand on the porch and see if we can spot a tornado,” said Morgan. “That’s not the wisest thing to do. When severe weather is forecast, stay inside and monitor your TV, radio or social media for weather alerts. Don’t tune it out; stay tuned.”