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Be prepared for severe weather

By Jade DeGood, jdegood@kwch.com
Published On: Apr 13 2014 12:39:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 14 2014 03:35:06 PM CDT
WICHITA, Kan. -

As Storm Team 12 continues to track the storm systems in Kansas, you too need to be prepared for any weather that may come your way.

Storm Team 12 Meteorologist Dean Jones says the first thing that should be on your list, is making sure you have the ability to stay connected with those following the storm.

"You can use our Storm Team 12 App or a weather radio, but make sure you have batteries if the power gets knocked out," said Jones. "You need something so you can hear what's going on and how severe the weather might be."

Also critical, have a family plan. Your family might not be together when a disaster strikes so make sure each member has a plan of action. Make sure you know where your spouse will be if a storm hits and they are at work, or where your child will be if they are at the day care. The better plan you make now, means less panic when the storm hits.

Meteorologist Dean Jones said one of the most important items to have readily available is a pair of tennis hoes.

"When you’re walking outside after a tornado, there’s going to be a lot of debris around and a lot of the injuries that happen with a tornado is actually after the tornado because people forget to throw on their shoes," he said. "They’re walking around on glass and other objects torn up by the tornado."

When the threat of severe weather looms, the emergency managers are on high alert.  In Sedgwick County, it means someone looking at radar all day, every day in order to update the public.

"We have a duty officer that's designated 24/7 and 365," said Randy Duncan, Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director. "That person has the responsibility of knowing what's going on in the jurisdiction."

Sedgwick County has several layers in order to inform people of severe weather, including the warning sirens, notifying media outlets and tv companies as well as working closely with the National Weather Service and the alerts they provide.

Duncan said it's less about people panicking as it about people knowing when a situation could be dangerous for them.

"It's normal human behavior to, when you receive a warning, to say 'gosh is that a real warning? Does that really apply to me?'"

Duncan said people need to start preparing as soon as a watch is issued for their area. That way when there's a warning, people aren't hurrying to try and find a safe place to be.

"We do no encourage people to be out on the road when a warning is in progress," he said. "The best place for shelter is under ground, under a heavy piece of furniture or stairwell. If you don't have a place underground, the next best thing is an interior room that puts as many walls between you and the outside as possible."

He said most injuries and deaths occur when flying debris hits you. So being in a place least likely for that to happen, is the safest. If you live in a mobile home or are in a vehicle that is too close to the situation, it's better to find a ditch or ravine. Anything that's deep so debris will fly over not on you. 

It's important for each person or family to have a basic disaster supply kit. Here's what should be in it: (From Ready.gov)

  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food (at the least)
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional disaster supplies: (ready.gov)

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit - EFFAK (PDF - 977Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

For more information on the Sedgwick County Emergency Management Plan CLICK HERE

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