Spring is just around the corner (hopefully). With warmer temperatures and the change in season comes the threat for severe weather. This is not new to those who have lived in Kansas for an extended period of time, yet for some, this may be your first severe weather season in Kansas. Whether you are seasoned and have your plan ready or the thought of severe weather brings anxious feelings, Severe Weather Awareness Week (SWAW) is for you!
From damaging winds to large hail to flooding and the threat of tornadoes, individuals and businesses in Douglas County are at risk from severe weather. It’s up to each of us to know the right steps to take in order to ensure our safety when severe weather strikes! This is why Douglas County Emergency Management is encouraging you to join us in participating in SWAW activities March 4-8, 2019. Now is the perfect time to dust off or create your personal severe weather plan and practice it at home, school, work, or any other place you or your family frequents. This week isn’t just for individuals. Businesses should also take steps to ensure their emergency plans are update-to-date and reviewed with staff.
Mark your calendar for 10AM on March 5th for the Statewide Tornado Drill!
Take this time to execute your plan (go to the designated shelter at your location) wherever you are! DCEM is participating by activating the Douglas County Outdoor Warning Sirens (Weather permitting), posting on social media and conducting a Voice Alert Radio broadcast for those with a receiver. You may see an alert on your TV, hear it on the radio and your weather radio will also alert you to the test. Staff will be monitoring social media to connect with the community and answer severe weather preparedness questions.
No matter what stage you are in or comfort level with severe weather actions, join us in learning and refreshing your knowledge and understanding before severe weather strikes!
Each day of Severe Weather Week, Douglas County Emergency Management will be focusing on different severe weather safety and preparedness topics.
• Monday: Plan Ahead: Getting Alerts & Understanding Terminology
• Tuesday: What to do when you get an alert (Statewide Tornado Drill)
• Wednesday: Floods/Flash Floods
• Thursday: Thunderstorms and Lightning
• Friday: Personal Preparedness and Business Continuity
Our office encourages you to follow along on our social media sites and share your own stories of preparedness.
One of the first steps to preparedness is knowing the difference between watches and warnings. This will help you determine which actions to take for your safety.
WATCHES are issued when a specific hazard is possible during a specific time range.
WARNINGS are issued when a specific hazard is or is believed to be occurring.
No matter what method you choose, be sure you have more than 1 way to get severe weather alerts just in case one does not work. Here are a few suggestions.
Weather radios are a cost effective and reliable method to receive notice of impending weather.
⦁ Have battery back-up.
⦁ Equipped with a special alarm tone that will give immediate information about a weather, natural or man-made emergency, or a life–threatening situation.
⦁ Can be programmed for your specific county.
⦁ The hearing and visually impaired can get these warnings by connecting weather radios with alarm tones, strobe lights, pagers, bed-shaker’s, etc.
Statewide Tornado Drill Information:
DCEM is participating by activating the Douglas County Outdoor Warning Sirens (weather permitting), posting on social media and conducting a Voice Alert Radio broadcast for those with a receiver. You may see an alert on your TV, hear it on the radio and your weather radio will also alert you to the test. Staff will be monitoring social media to connect with the community and answer severe weather preparedness questions. Share your photos with us via Facebook or Twitter!
When a warning is issued for your area, take the following safety precautions:
You may not always be in a familiar place when severe weather strikes. Any time severe weather is possible, use the information above to identify a good shelter before the storms arrive. You can also ask the manager or a similar person where their shelter is located.
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, and Douglas County has experienced a number of flooding and flash flooding events in recent years.
Identify and Reduce Your Flood Risk:
Steps to take before a flood:
During the Flood/Flash Flood Warning:
Driving Tips: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto related!
While tornadoes seem to take a lot of the focus during severe weather conversations, thunderstorm winds are the more common cause of damage. That's why we are taking a deeper look at Thunderstorms.
What is a Thunderstorm?
A thunderstorm is formed from a combination of moisture, rapidly rising warm air and a force capable of lifting air such as a warm and cold front, a sea breeze or a mountain. All thunderstorms contain lightning.
Thunderstorms may occur singly, in clusters or in lines. Thus, it is possible for several thunderstorms to affect one location in the course of a few hours.
Severe thunderstorms are capable of producing either damaging winds (58 mph or greater) and large hail (1 inch or greater).
Lightning is fascinating to watch but also extremely dangerous. In the United States, there are about 25 million lightning flashes every year. Understanding the dangers of lightning is important so that you can get to a safe place when thunderstorms threaten. If you hear thunder--even a distant rumble or a crackling aloft--you are already in danger.
What is Lightning?
Lightning is an electrical discharge that results from the buildup of positive and negative charges within a thunderstorm. When the buildup becomes strong enough, lightning appears as a “bolt”. This flash of light usually occurs within the clouds or between the clouds and the ground. A bolt of lightning reaches a temperature approaching 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a split second. The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning causes thunder.
Lightning and Thunderstorm Safety:
Why is preparedness important?
Fires, water main breaks, and power outages are all possible interruptions to your regular schedule which many only impact you or your neighborhood. Floods, tornadoes, winter storms, and heat waves are natural disasters which can impact a much larger population for an extended period of time. All who live and work in Douglas County are subject to these and other man-made and disease-related emergencies which can happen with little notice and can change the course of your day or year. Taking steps to be prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany emergencies.
What is your role in an emergency or disaster?
Emergency Services and government agencies may not be able to respond to your needs immediately. Their buildings, equipment, communications, mobility, and personnel, may be severely hampered by the emergency or disaster event or they may need to focus efforts elsewhere. Local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to take steps to ready yourself and your family for the emergency. Everyone needs to be prepared to survive on your own for a minimum of 3 days, and in some cases you may need to be able to stay home for 10 days.
While we cannot control natural disasters, emergencies, or unexpected events, we can be prepared, and we can protect ourselves and our families. Taking time to plan and prepare will help you and your family lessen the impact an emergency has on you. The most important concept in developing a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan is communication. Every member of the family needs to be involved so that when disaster strikes, everyone will know what to do, and how to keep in touch. How well you manage the aftermath of a disaster depends a great deal on how well you prepare today—before the disaster strikes!
Here are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family:
Why is preparedness important for my business?
Businesses face a wide variety of hazards which can impact or interrupt your operations.
What is my role, as a business, in preparedness?
Each business can takes steps to lessen the impact of an emergency on their staff, customers and operations.
What else should I consider?
Your emergency plan is the start of getting your business ready for an emergency - both specific to your business or a community-wide disaster. Next, consider working through a Continuity of Operations Plan. Basically, what will you do when your business is interrupted - short term or long term. What's most important to get up and running, can you operate elsewhere, how do you communicate with staff, etc. Here's a guide. We're also more than happy to help guide you in the process. Your business is important to you, your staff, your customers and your community! We want to help make sure you are ready to recover following an emergency! Join us in getting prepared.