Gov. Jeff Colyer MD has issued a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for the state in response to the winter storm currently moving across Kansas. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties.
“Here in Kansas we make it a priority to take care of our neighbors,” said Colyer. “We strongly recommend that you postpone travel plans, if possible, however, if you must be on the road, make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is stocked, your gas tank is full and your cell phone and charger are with you and someone knows your travel plans. Also, be mindful of all emergency response personnel out on Kansas roadways and give them space to do their jobs to ensure their safety and that of our citizens.”
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management has activated the State Emergency Operations center in Topeka to a partial level, to monitor the weather and coordinate any state emergency response operations that might be requested.
The Kansas Department of Transportation has reported multiple road closures due to visibility including I-70 eastbound and westbound from Salina to WaKeeney. For an updated list of road conditions go to the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at http://kandrive.org. 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).
KDEM has been receiving reports of vehicles getting stuck in the snow and those individuals leaving their vehicles and walking in the storm. The safest place for travelers is to remain in their vehicle. Do not get out of your vehicle and walk because road crews may not see you due to visibility issues. Stay in your vehicle, make sure your exhaust pipe is clear and not clogged with snow or ice debris or you run the risk of filling your vehicle is carbon monoxide. Run your car sparingly while you are waiting on help. Keep the window cracked. If you are stuck in the snow call the Kansas Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (47), or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.
The Kansas National Guard has Stranded Motorists Assistance Response Teams in nine locations throughout the state. The SMART teams, which consist of two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWVs) and four Guardsmen, are assisting local law enforcement with patrolling impacted roads and assisting with stranded motorists.
Westar Energy and Midwest Energy are reporting power outages across multiple counties in the western and northeastern portions of the state. Restoration time for these outages is unknown.
Gusting winds with blizzard like and whiteout conditions are causing extremely hazardous traveling conditions. Travel is discouraged. If you must travel use caution and make sure your car has a full tank of gas and an emergency kit in your trunk.
A vehicle emergency kit should consist of
• An ice scraper and shovel
• Jumper cables
• Sand or kitty litter for traction
• Extra blankets or clothing
• Non-perishable food
• A first aid kit
• Matches and candles or flares
• Tow rope or chain
On the road, remember the following:
• Allow extra time for delays and slower traffic speeds.
• Buckle up and properly secure children in safety seats.
• Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Ice and snow significantly increase your stopping distance.
• Accelerate and brake gently. A light foot on the gas is less likely to make wheels spin on ice and snow. Braking is best accomplished by pumping the pedal. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, it is very important that you understand how to use it. Read the owner’s manual or check with a dealership for more information, and practice using it correctly.
• Make turns slowly and gradually, especially in heavily traveled areas (e.g. intersections that may be icy from snow that melted and refroze).
• Visibility is very important. You must be able to see out, and other drivers must be able to see your vehicle. Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights. Use headlights as necessary.
• If your car loses traction and begins to slide, steer into the swerve, or in the direction you want to go. Anticipate a second skid in the opposite direction as the car straightens out.
If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not panic. Stay in the vehicle, keep fresh air circulating through a downwind window, run the motor sparingly, turn on the dome light, and stimulate circulation and stay awake by moving arms and legs. If you leave the car, work slowly in the snow to avoid over-exertion and the risk of a heart attack. If you have a cell phone, call a Kansas Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (47), or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.
Information on winter driving tips is available from the Kansas Highway Patrol at http://www.
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 general winter preparedness information, go to www.ready.gov.
Keep your family safe by making sure you have your emergency supplies up-to-date, including a safe alternative heat source. Kerosene heaters are generally safe when used properly and a fireplace can provide some warmth, provided it is drawing properly. Never attempt to use a charcoal grill as a heat source. Charcoal generates carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in enclosed spaces.
In the event of power outages check on your neighbors to make sure they are all right, particularly older neighbors.
After the storm, when shoveling snow dress in layers. Use many thin, warm layers rather than a few thick layers. Be smart as you work. Don’t over-exert yourself and take frequent warming breaks. Work as a team or at least have someone inside to keep an eye on you as you work.
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 to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold their 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 www.avma.org or https://www.aspca.org/pet-
For a complete list of items for an emergency kit, go to www.ready.gov.