Monday, March 4, 2013

March 3-9 is Severe Weather Week

On February 28th, Governor Brownback signed a proclamation declaring March 3rd – 9th as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas. The goal of the week-long awareness initiative is to remind everyone that severe weather conditions can occur year-round, and now is the time to begin preparation.

According to the website Safe Kids Kansas, there were 94 tornadoes across the state of Kansas during 2012. With that in mind, now is the time to think about what you and your family are going to do during severe weather events.

Know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING

WATCH:  When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe thunderstorm or tornado WATCH is issued.

WARNING:   A WARNING is issued when severe weather is imminent.
Courtesy of Safe Kids Kansas
If a tornado warning is issued, your family should immediately go to your designated tornado shelter which may be a storm shelter or a basement. If you are not able to get underground, then move to an interior room, hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest level. If possible, get under a sturdy piece of furniture to protect you from debris, and stay away from windows.

If you are in a vehicle or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest shelter. Do not try and outrun a tornado in your vehicle. If you are outside, lie flat in a low location, and cover your head with your hands. Do not take shelter under an overpass or bridge. Flash flooding causes more weather related deaths annually, so be aware of your surroundings if you seek shelter in a ditch or ravine.

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;
  • a manual can opener if your kit contains canned food;
  • blankets or sleeping bags;
  • a change of clothing for each family member;
  • a first-aid kit;
  • prescription medications;
  • sun block;
  • a flashlight and batteries;
  • a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio;
  • a set of car and house keys;
  • a whistle to signal for help;
  • a highway map that marks the counties to follow the storm;
  • identification and a credit card or cash;
  • and, any specific items you may need for children such as diapers or formula.
Don’t forget any additional supplies and equipment that may be needed for family members with disabilities or medical conditions.

Don’t forget your pets.  Their needs may include food, water, collars and leashes, crates or cages.

Designate an out-of-state friend or family member as your family contact in case weather strikes while your family members are apart.  Each family member should know the phone number of the emergency contact person, and call to alert them they are safe and where they are going to be.

Develop an emergency plan for severe weather and practice the plan often with your children. Be sure to include scenarios when you are at home, work, school or outdoors.

After a storm has passed, watch for fallen power lines and structures that may be weakened from storm damage. Use flashlights instead of candles, matches or lighters, as there may be leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.

Safe Kids Kansas also recommends that your family learn basic CPR first aid, and teach young children how to call 9-1-1. Severe weather can strike at any time with little or no notice. The best way to protect yourself and your family members is by being prepared in advance.