Severe Weather Week is March 5-9 and it's a good time for families to review their emergency weather plan and restock their emergency weather kit.
Spring is 12 days away and in Kansas that means Kansans will be paying close attention to the sky and to weather reports.
The week of March 5-9 is Severe Weather Week and Pratt is going to take part in an emergency test as the county prepares for spring weather. At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, all the emergency sirens in the county will be tested, depending on the weather, to make sure they are operating properly, said Pratt County Emergency Manager Tim Branscom.
The sirens will also sound at noon on Monday as usual but the Tuesday event is to bring attention to the changing of seasons and the need to be prepared.
Every home should have an emergency plan and an emergency kit ready to go. Severe Weather Week is a good time to review the emergency plan or if the family doesn't have on, it's a good time to make one and do a test run.
An important part of the plan is having several places to meet after the disaster. The first meeting place can be just outside the house at a specific location like the sidewalk or a tree or other area. There should also be another area to meet that is at another location in town. It's also good to have an out of town contact as well. Meeting places should start at the home then move outward from there to further and further locations, Branscom said.
The same is true for an emergency kit. Check the kit to make sure everything is in good condition and the entire family knows where the kit is located. If a family has no kit, Severe Weather Week is a good time to put a kit together. Some things that should go into the kit are clothes and shoes. After a storm, there could be lots of debris and both adults and children need to have good fitting shoes in the kit to protect their feet.
Food items in the kit should be non perishable items like high protein bars, jerky, canned goods with a can opener plus water. There should be enough water so each member of the family can have a gallon per day and there should be enough to last for three days, Branscom said.
"Depending on the situation, you may be on your own for 72 hours," Branscom said.
In a disaster situation, it may be several days before power is restored and it may take a couple of days to get all the assistance organized and get food and water to the impacted area so having enough water on hand is critical.
Emergency situations can be very scary for children so include some toys and coloring books or other games in the kit for the children.
If the family has pets, there needs to be provisions made to take care of their needs as well.
During severe weather, it's important to have more than one source of weather information. Storms can take down power lines so depending on television along may be possible. A weather radio is an excellent source of information and gives early warning information. Check the batteries on the radio at the start of severe weather season and more batteries on hand.
There are weather apps available, including one from the Red Cross, for electronic devices that can send an emergency weather alert directly to a cell phone, iPad, desk top or other electronic device. The weather channel and major news stations also have apps available.
Pratt County has weather information on-line and Civic Ready is available at prattcounty.org. People can also sign up for emergency alerts from the county emergency management. Just contact Branscom at 672-4132 for information.
Preparation is good but it takes action to make it work. When severe weather threatens, pay attention to what is happening and if an alert is given, take action to keep family members safe.