HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The heavy rains and flooding that occurred earlier this year were a sobering reminder to many Kansans of the need to be prepared for severe weather and other emergencies.
To help Kansans be prepared, local, state and federal agencies took part Monday in the annual Kansas Preparedness Day at the Kansas State Fair.
Kansas Preparedness Month is observed each September to place a special emphasis on reminding Kansans to be prepared for tornadoes, floods, wildfires, blizzards and other disasters.
Jane Welch, the acting director of public affairs with the Adjutant’s Office in Topeka, talked about the effort to educate residents of what they should do to prepare for an emergency.
“Do they have a plan, do they have an emergency kit that consists of supplies for seven days for each member of their family?” Welch asked. “That would include water, food, you know if you have pills that you need to have, batteries, flashlights, just everything you would need to survive on your own for seven days.”
She explained that you can build that kit over time as opposed to doing it all at once.
Numerous local, state, and federal agencies, and community emergency response organizations were set up near the Administration Building to provide disaster preparedness and public safety information and display emergency response equipment. That included the Kansas Guard. Welch explained how they play a part in helping during an emergency situation or a disaster.
“The locals are always the first responders to any emergency,” Welch said. “The guard comes after that, so if the county gets to the point that all of their assets have been tapped out, they would then come to the state and say, ‘OK, this is what we need help with’ and that’s where the guard comes in.”
The latest example of that locally was when Hutchinson had wildfires north and east of town.
“The guard was a big part of the wildfire stuff,” Welch said. “They would try to suppress those fires on the ground, but then it got to the point where they were getting into areas where firefighters couldn’t reach, so that’s where the guard comes in with the buckets to drop water to help suppress the fires.”
During preparedness month, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management is also reminding the public to take part in its monthly online Preparedness Challenge at www.facebook.com/KansasEmergency. Additional information on disaster kits and family preparedness can be found at www.ready.gov.