Kiowa County took part in the state wide severe weather test on March 6.

Spring is 13 days away and in Kansas that means residents will be paying close attention to the sky and to weather reports.

The week of March 5-9 is Severe Weather Week and Kiowa County took take part in an emergency test as the county prepares for spring weather. At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, all the emergency sirens in the county were tested, sounding off to make sure they were operating properly, said Pratt County Emergency Manager Tim Branscom. Pratt County also participated in the tests, as did most counties across the state of Kansas.

The Tuesday event took place to bring attention to the changing of seasons and the need to be prepared.

Every home should have an emergency plan and an emergency kit ready to go. Severe Weather Week is a good time to review the emergency plan or if the family doesn’t have on, it’s a good time to make one and do a test run.

An important part of the plan is having several places to meet after the disaster. The first meeting place can be just outside the house at a specific location like the sidewalk or a tree or other area. There should also be another area to meet that is at another location in town. It’s also good to have an out of town contact as well. Meeting places should start at the home then move outward from there to further and further locations, Branscom said.

The same is true for an emergency kit. Check the kit to make sure everything is in good condition and the entire family knows where the kit is located. If a family has no kit, Severe Weather Week is a good time to put a kit together. Some things that should go into the kit are clothes and shoes. After a storm, there could be lots of debris and both adults and children need to have good fitting shoes in the kit to protect their feet.

Food items in the kit should be non perish- able items like high protein bars, jerky, canned goods with a can opener plus water. There should be enough water so each member of the family can have a gallon per day and there should be enough to last for three days, Branscom said. “Depending on the situation, you may be on your own for 72 hours,” Branscom said.

Emergency situations can be very scary for children so include some toys and coloring books or other games in the kit for the children.

If the family has pets, there needs to be provisions made to take care of their needs as well.

During severe weather, it’s important to have more than one source of weather information. Storms can take down power lines so depending on television along may be possible. A weather radio is an excellent source of information and gives early warning information. Check the batteries on the radio at the start of severe weather season and more batteries on hand.

There are weather apps available, including one from the Red Cross, for electronic devices that can send an emergency weather alert directly to a cell phone.