(Special to westernkansasnews.com)
TOPEKA, Kan. — Gov. Jeff Colyer MD has issued a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for the state in response to the winter storm that will be impacting portions of western Kansas. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will activate the State Emergency Operations center in Topeka today to a partial level starting at 7 p.m., to monitor the weather and coordinate any state emergency response operations that might be requested.
KDEM is coordinating with the Kansas National Guard to place Stranded Motorists Assistance Response Teams in four locations in the most heavily impacted areas. If the need arises the SMART teams will deploy to assist local public safety agencies with stranded motorists.
“It is important to be prepared when we see a winter event like this approaching, and we appreciate our emergency responders who stand ready to provide any aide that may be needed,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “We hope that travelers will be wise by paying attention to weather alerts and not unnecessarily placing themselves in harm’s way as the storm moves through.”
“Kansans are urged to change or delay their travel plans in these areas until the storm moves through,” said Angee Morgan, deputy director of KDEM. If you plan to travel, use caution and make sure your car emergency kit is stocked.”
Winter road conditions are accessible by dialing 5-1-1 from your mobile phone anywhere in Kansas; outside Kansas call 1-866-511-5368 (KDOT). Road conditions many also be viewed on the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at http://kandrive.org.
If you must travel, be sure your car’s gas tank is full and you have an emergency kit. Vehicle emergency kits should include blankets, flashlights, batteries, a cell phone charger, hand-warmers, high-energy food snacks, bottled water, necessary medications, a snow shovel, flares and other emergency supplies. Make sure your cell phone is charged and someone is aware of your itinerary, including expected time of arrival.
Information on winter driving tips is available from the Kansas Highway Patrol at http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/259/Winter-Driving-Tips. You can also follow the Kansas Highway Patrol on Facebook and Twitter at www.kansashighwaypatrol.org.
Outdoor pets are especially vulnerable to bitter cold and extreme wind chills. Bring outdoor pets inside if possible or ensure that they have a draft-free enclosure with straw-type bedding that is large enough for your pets to lie down, but small enough to hold in body heat if they must remain outside. Always make sure that your pets have access to food and non-frozen water.
For additional pet safety information, go to http://avma.org or https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips.
For a complete list of items for an emergency kit and general winter preparedness information, go to www.ready.gov.