Disaster officials urge Kansans to prepare for tornadoes

State disaster officials are urging Kansans to have a plan for dealing with the possibility of coming face-to-face with a tornado.

Despite living in the Midwest, where tornadoes frequently threaten the spring and early-summer weather, relatively few Kansas residents actually have a home tornado plan or disaster supply kit in place, according to the Red Cross.

“I can’t stress how important it is for people to take storm warnings seriously and be prepared,” said Angee Morgan, deputy director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management. “We’ve had one tornado-related death this year in Kansas. One life lost is too many. We can’t stop tornadoes from happening, but we can prepare for them to minimize loss of life.”

In the past few days, tornadoes in both Reading, Kan., and Joplin, Mo., have developed so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning was possible.

The American Red Cross and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management offer this advice for the tornado season:

Prepare a home tornado plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.

  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a disaster supplies kit

The kit should contain items for at least three days and should contain:

  • First Aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.At least three gallons of water per person per day.
  • Protective clothing, bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

Stay tuned for storm warnings

  • Listen to your local radio and television stations for updated storm information.-

  • Know what a tornado watch and warning means. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.

When a tornado watch is issued...

  • Listen to local radio and television stations for further updates.

  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a tornado warning is issued...

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.

  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.

  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After the tornado passes...

  • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.

  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

  • Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.

  • Do not use candles at any time.

For more information on emergency kits and safety in storms, go online to ksready.gov, accesskansas.org/kdem, and fema.gov.-

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