Even though emergency services will respond after storms, it is still important for people to be "self prepared" when it comes to severe weather, Leavenworth County's Emergency Management director said.

Even though emergency services will respond after storms, it is still important for people to be "self prepared" when it comes to severe weather, Leavenworth County's Emergency Management director said.

"People need to take self initiative," Chuck Magaha said.

He said people need to have plans for what to do if a devastating storm hits the area.

Magaha said emergency responders will try to reach residents as soon as possible. But in the case of something as destructive as a tornado, it could take up to 72 hours.

Magaha said people need to be prepared for all storms.

One way to be prepared is to have several tools for providing alerts about dangerous weather.

Magaha said the warning sirens operated by Leavenworth County Emergency Management are intended to warn people who are outdoors.

"They're not intended to be heard indoors," he said.

He said people should rely on other devices, such as an all hazard weather radio, to alert them when they are inside their homes.

"Don't just use one means," Magaha said. "Use several."

For smart phone users, there are a number of apps that can provide alerts. Magaha said owners of newer cellphones also can activate a wireless emergency alerting system on their phones.

When a watch is issued by the National Weather Service, this means conditions are favorable for severe weather.

"That is your time as an individual to do some preplanning," Magaha said.

He said warnings issued by the NWS mean the weather threat is imminent.

He said people also should be prepared by having 72-hour kits with supplies they may need following a major storm. He said this may include things such as high protein foods, water and toiletries. They also should include food for their pets.

He said people also should have a way to obtain money in case ATMs are temporarily not working.

Magaha said the traditional tornado season for this area began the first of March. He said the season will reach its peak around the end of April and May.

He said the tornado season typically begins to taper off in June but picks up again in September.

However, Magaha said severe weather can occur anytime of the year, not just during the traditional tornado season. He noted that a severe thunderstorm warning was issued this past Christmas.

According to the National Weather Service, there were 102 tornados in Kansas last year. The average number of tornados per year in Kansas since 1950 is 62.

None of the tornados reported in Kansas last year occurred in Leavenworth County.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR