Jennifer Raisor is rescued by firefighters Brent Martin, front, and Andy Ward after her car was stranded by flood waters in downtown Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Preparedness and Safe Kids Kansas programs want to make sure that Kansans know the proper precautions to take in preparing for severe weather. As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas, March 12-16, individuals and families can take action to make sure they have what they need in their emergency disaster kit and refresh their memory with the definitions of Warnings and Watches.
In 2011, the National Weather Service reported about 68 tornadoes statewide, and this serves as a reminder that severe weather can strike anywhere this tornado season.
“When severe weather strikes you often have only a few minutes to respond and seek shelter. It is essential for you and your family to be prepared in an emergency,” explained Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “We recommend that everyone become familiar with the type of weather they may encounter at different times of the year, prepare an emergency disaster kit and practice their emergency plan frequently.”
Many people do not understand the difference between a watch and a warning. When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe thunderstorm or tornado WATCH is issued. Information from weather radar, spotters and other sources is used to issue severe thunderstorm and tornado WARNINGS for areas where severe weather is imminent.
Severe weather warnings are passed to local radio and television stations and broadcast over weather alert radios. These warnings are also relayed to local emergency management and public safety officials who then activate the local warning systems to alert communities.
KDHE recommends assembling an emergency disaster kit in advance. If you determine you need to take shelter, be sure every family member puts on hard-soled footwear and take your emergency disaster kit with you. An emergency disaster kit should contain:
· Non-perishable food items and water
· Manual can opener if your kit contains canned food
· Blankets or sleeping bags
· Change of clothing for each family member
· First-aid kit
· Prescription medications
· Sun block
· Flashlight and batteries
· NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio
· Set of car and house keys
· Whistle to signal for help
· Highway map that marks the counties to follow the storm
· Identification and a credit card or cash
· Any specific items you may need for children such as diapers or formula
Additional supplies and equipment may be necessary for family members with disabilities or medical conditions. Don’t forget your pets will also need supplies, including food, water, collars and leashes. For smaller animals you may want to have a crate or a cage to help keep them safe and close. Another good preparation tool is to designate an out-of-state friend or family member as your family contact in case weather strikes while your family members are apart.