As a severe storm system begins its march across the state, Gov. Sam Brownback urges Kansans to make their preparations to take shelter before the storm arrives in their area.
"This advice applies whether you are at home, at work, traveling or just out running some errands," said Brownback. "If you’re at home or work, head for the basement or storm shelter as soon as a warning is given. Don’t wait. If you do not have a basement or other shelter, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor. If you’re away from home, find out where the nearest shelter is so you can get there immediately."
"If you’re on the road, get off as soon as you can and find some shelter," continued Brownback. "This storm system is very powerful and is moving very fast. Too many injuries or deaths occur during storms because people thought they could wait before heading to the basement. Please, don’t wait. Take cover as soon as the warning is given."
Kansans are urged to keep abreast of weather conditions by listening to a NOAA weather alert radio or local TV and radio stations. Have a battery-powered radio and charge cell phones in advance.
"Staying informed is one of the best things you can do to be prepared," said Maj. Gen. (KS) Lee Tafanelli, the director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and the adjutant general. "A weather alert radio is an excellent way to do this. If you don’t have one, turn on a local television or radio station and keep it on so that you can hear a warning as soon as it is given. Make sure you have a battery powered back-up so that you can continue to hear weather reports if you lose power."
Remember that sirens are an outdoor alert measure and may not be heard if you are indoors. If a tornado warning is issued, take shelter immediately. Do not go outside until the all clear is given by the local broadcast stations.
Severe thunderstorm warnings also pose the potential for a tornado as occurred in Harveyville, Kan. in February.
Plan ahead on how you will stay in contact with family members in case phones are out by designating meeting places inside and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Identify an out-of-town contact to call to let them know you are okay and can pass that information on to other family members.
Here are some storm safety recommendations from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management:
Before the storm:
- Make a disaster kit;
- Make a family emergency plan -
- Practice a family tornado drill at least once a year;
- Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside your immediate neighborhood if you are separated;
- Identify an out-of-town contact to call to let them know you are okay and can pass that information on to other family members;
- Identify your shelter in case of a tornado warning - A storm cellar or basement provides the best protection;
- If you do not have an underground shelter, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor;
- Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls;
- If you are in a vehicle, get out and lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area, using your hands and arms to protect your head. DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge, the winds can pull you out from underneath it;
- Stay in your shelter area until the danger has passed;
- Listen to radio or TV stations for information;
- Make sure your pets are safe if you can't bring them into the shelter with you;
- Opening windows does not keep a house or building safe from exploding due to low air pressure during a tornado. It actually increases the chance of high winds entering and causing more damage to your home and exposing you to injury.
After the Storm:
- Make sure the danger has passed before coming out of your shelter;
- Stay with your family - don't wander away as it is easy to get disoriented due to street signs being gone and landmarks destroyed;
- Watch out for broken glass, nails, or other sharp objects;
- Stay away from downed power lines - they could still be live
- Avoid using matches and/or lighters - flammable gas may be leaking from damaged gas lines;
- Contact your insurance agent and advise them of any damage;
- Do not use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gas, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage or camper, or outside near an open window, door or vent. Carbon monoxide can build up and poison the people and animals inside;
- Use battery-powered lanterns for light;
- Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
The above tornado safety preparedness and safety information and more can be found on the KSReady website by clicking on the links for Severe Storms and Tornadoes. There are also links to information on making an emergency plan, assembling an emergency kit, and water and food supply recommendations.
Information regarding tornado safety in apartments, for the elderly, children and pets is available at http://www.ksready.gov/default.asp?PageID=16&Tab=3
Severe weather safety information is also available from the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org).