Severe weather awareness week is March 2-6

Residents view damage from a Sunday night tornado in Baxter Springs, Kan., Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Residents view damage from a Sunday night tornado in Baxter Springs, Kan., Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Now is the time to prepare. That’s the message the Kansas Division of Emergency Management wants Kansans to heed as spring approaches, bringing with it severe weather season.

Gov. Sam Brownback will sign a proclamation Feb. 25 at 9:30 a.m. designating March 2-6 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas.

During the week, Kansans are urged to check their emergency kit supplies for their home, office and vehicle, and review their emergency plans to make sure they are prepared for whatever severe weather is thrown our way.

“Even though March through June typically brings severe storms, tornadoes, and flash floods, many people are still caught unprepared,” said Angee Morgan, KDEM deputy director. “Being prepared really doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of money and while the odds are good you won’t need to use your emergency kit, it’s better to be prepared, just in case.”

Kansans are also urged to take part in the statewide tornado safety drill Tuesday, March 3, at 1:30 p.m.; if severe weather is imminent for a community, the tornado drill will be cancelled for that community.

According to the National Weather Service, 40 tornadoes hit the state in 2014, about 40 fewer than the 30-year average of 80 and the fewest since 1989. There were 27 tornado-related injuries reported, but no fatalities. The first tornado was reported April 2; the last was on Dec. 14, a reminder that tornadoes can strike any time of the year. The most tornadoes in one day occurred May 11 when nine tornadoes were reported in the state.

In addition the National Weather Service has declared March 4 as National Flood Awareness Day. The Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources, National Weather Service and Kansas Division of Emergency Management will join Governor Brownback as he signs a proclamation urging Kansans to observe Wednesday, March 4, as “Flood Awareness Day in Kansas.”

“People often don’t think about the danger of floods,” said Morgan. “On average, floods claim more lives each year than tornadoes. Just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock a person off their feet. More than half of flood-related deaths involve vehicles. Cars, even SUVs and trucks, can be swept away by just two feet of moving water. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area or your car and take shelter on higher ground.”

Information on emergency preparedness and building an emergency kit can be found online at www.ksready.gov

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