WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The severe weather season is among us in Kansas, and now is the time to prepare. But, before severe weather arrives, there are some simple steps that you need to take to keep you and your family safe.
One tip is not to rely on tornado sirens while you are inside your home, day or night.
Sam Stern was inside his home when reports of the Andover tornado flooded in on April 29, 2022.
“We actually didn’t find out because of the siren or anything we saw online or anything like that. It was just kind of a, ‘Oh look, there’s a tornado in our backyard,’ and then we headed downstairs pretty quickly,” he said.
“To rely on something that really was intended to only warn people outside, it’s not a safe path if you’re trying to get your information as quickly, reliably, and efficiently as possible,” said Keri Korthals, Butler County Emergency Management director.
Before that tornado struck, Stern relied on his phone for warnings.
After the disaster, he purchased a weather radio for an extra layer of safety. He also took extra precautions to make sure he is prepared after a storm passes.
“Just basic emergency supplies, so backup battery power, charging cables, protection, money, ID cards, things like that,” Stern said.
Another layer that will keep you weather-aware is paying attention to the KSN Storm Track 3 Weather team in advance of impending bad weather.
Korthals says after last year’s tornado, there is a strong push this year to make sure that everyone has multiple ways of receiving weather information before disaster strikes again.
It is not a matter of if but when it happens again.
“Because if for some reason that’s the day that technology lets you down, that’s the day something doesn’t work quite right, knowing that you also have that extra layer,” Korthals said.
Wireless emergency alerts, also known as WEAs, are also a great tool to use to your benefit. WEAs are tones and messages automatically delivered to your phone if there is an amber alert or tornado warning for your pinpointed location. Therefore, it is vital never to silence WEA alerts.
“Because they want to make sure that if you hear your WEA alert going off, you’re going to pay attention. This is a life-threatening situation,” Korthals said.
Korthals says there is a noticeable difference between those who have more than one way to receive warnings and those who do not.
“It was a very short notice event. So in a lot of ways, a lot of people were caught unaware, unprepared. But you can always catch the people that had their system in place because they said, ‘I heard this, I was alerted by this, I took action because I received a message this way,'” Korthals added.
When it comes to our phones, you don’t want to trust the weather app it comes with. Instead, you want to download the KSN Storm Track 3 Weather App that is connected to our experienced meteorologists here at KSN. It provides weather information seven days a week, 365 days a year.