‘Life safety is the most important aspect at that point’: Officials encourage use of public storm shelters

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It is severe weather season in Kansas. Unlike, previous years the coronavirus is causing an additional challenge. What do you do if you head a tornado siren and a public shelter is your only option?

While social distancing is important for preventing the spread, officials say there should be no hesitation.

“If a tornado warning is issued and people need to seek shelter they should do that and that should be their priority, not worrying about social distancing or things like that. Life safety is the most important aspect at that point,” said Cody Charvat, Sedgwick County Emergency Management Operations Officer.

Maize Chief of Police Matt Jensby agrees. He says keeping their town’s public shelters open was never in question.

“It really wasn’t even a hard decision at all. It has to do with the safety of people in our community and providing those services or those facilities when there is an imminent threat to the safety of people,” said Chief Jensby.

If the shelters are needed, those who are inside are encouraged to follow the coronavirus prevention guidelines.

“Social distancing while at those shelters and they are big enough to provide ample space for people to be separated,” said Jensby.

Governor Laura Kelly says it is up to the local owners of the public storm shelters on whether or not they open.

KSN Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman says don’t wait. Now is the time to call your usual storm shelter.

“Definitely, do your research. Find those places that are going to be open and use those shelters when severe weather strikes because if you have a tornado that is imminent you definitely need to take shelter from that,” she said.

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