The recent storms and weather warnings remind us springtime in Kansas is storm time.

Experts say you should plan for “when” a disaster happens, rather than “if.” In severe weather season, it’s important to be prepared. Now is the time to assemble a disaster supply kit to help your family survive a storm or other emergency. The latest advice says to be sure your kit includes helmets and shoes.

When they did an analysis of the Joplin, Mo., tornado a few years ago, one of the things that came to the attention of emergency management professionals was there were a lot of head injuries. Consequently, the latest recommendation is to add a bicycle helmet, hard hat or similar protective head gear for each member of the family to your disaster supplies. Putting on a helmet during a tornado can reduce the risk of head injury from flying debris or falling structures.

Having shoes with your emergency supplies is another important recommendation. Shoes will protect your feet from the large amount of dangerous debris and broken glass following a storm. I’ve kept shoes for all members of my family with my disaster supplies since my Extension colleague in Kiowa County shared she had to crawl out of her demolished home in bare feet after the Greensburg tornado.

Your family disaster supply kit also should include items to keep your family safe and healthy for two to three days. Assemble these items in a durable plastic tote, a heavy duffel bag or other weather-proof container and keep it in your “safe area” — the place where your family will go to weather a storm.

Start with necessities such as water, canned food and medications for at least three days. The recommendation is 1 gallon of water per person per day. Include formula and diapers if you have an infant, and pet food and extra water for pets.

Add items for first aid, safety and communication such as a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit and a battery-operated or hand-crank radio. If you’re a cellphone user, put in an extra car charger for recharging your phone. Include a small whistle which you can blow to signal for help.

Other useful supplies might include a small fire extinguisher, wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, mess kits or disposable tableware and a change of clothing for each family member. In the event of a disaster, you might not have immediate access to your bank account, so a roll of quarters and a small amount of cash or travelers checks would be a useful addition as well.

Recent natural disasters in the news have emphasized the importance of emergency preparedness. Taking time now to assemble your disaster supplies might help to ensure your family can survive a disaster and recover more quickly afterward.

For more information, check out the useful information on the Prepare Kansas blog from K-State Research and Extension,

Linda K. Beech is Ellis County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.