FORT RILEY, KS – Spring weather in Kansas can be extreme and unpredictable. To help people prepare, Fort Riley’s Emergency Management Office spearheads their Severe Spring Weather Awareness campaign every year following the four main tenants of the Ready Army program: Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, and Get Involved.The fourth in a series of five, this article will cover elements of the third Ready Army tenant, Build a Kit.Why have a kit?Severe weather emergencies can often impact entire communities at once. In these situations, emergency responders will likely address the most critical needs first, or may not be able to even get to an area until it is deemed safe.That’s why building an emergency kit is a critical step in being prepared to face severe weather emergencies: a kit can help you to respond to the emergency for the initial period of time of the event if assistance from emergency responders is unavailable.“Emergencies or disaster situations bring extreme stress on individuals and families,” said Chris Hallenbeck, Fort Riley Emergency Management coordinator. “Having an emergency preparedness kit will give you and your family peace of mind knowing that you are prepared to handle the initial emergency situation.”Kits enable you and your family to respond to an emergency more quickly, can be modified to be useful in a wide variety of emergency situations, and can be useful whether you have to evacuate or shelter-in-place.What goes in a kit?An emergency kit contains basic items you and your family might need during and/or after a severe weather emergency.Hallenbeck says a kit should include enough necessary supplies for you and your family to function for at a minimum of 72 hours.Ready.Army.mil recommends you include – at a minimum - the following basic items in your home emergency kit:• Water—at least one gallon per person per day for at least three days• Food—nonperishable food for at least three days, consider items that do not require cooking and will maintain freshness for several months such as energy bars, freeze dried foods and dehydrated foods• Formula and diapers for any infants• Food, water, other supplies and documents for any pets• Manual can opener• Flashlight• NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) battery-powered weather radio, battery-powered cellphone charger and extra batteries or hand crank powered devices• First aid kit and prescription medications• Sanitation supplies such as moist towelettes, disinfectant and garbage bags• 5-Gallon bucket with plastic bags for use as a portable toilet• Important documents in watertight packaging—personal, financial and insurance—store copies in a separate location (safety deposit box, relatives, or trusted friend)• Your family emergency plan, local maps and your command reporting information• Cash in small denominationsWhat should you do with your kit?Once you have compiled your supplies, consider creating multiple emergency kits to keep in different locations such as your home, car, and workplace. Wherever you choose to keep them, emergency kits should be located somewhere convenient and easy to access. Ensure everyone in your family knows where the kits are located.Consider storing your kits in waterproof containers for safekeeping and be sure to rotate your items periodically, ensuring nothing is expired when the need comes.Do your part to keep your family safe and prepare for severe spring weather by building a kit. After all, emergency preparedness is everyone’s responsibility.“Every member of our community has a role in community preparedness,” said Hallenbeck. “When individuals are prepared for emergencies they are helping to strengthen our community. This also develops a more resilient community, which overall contributes to mission readiness and mission assurance for the installation.”When it comes to severe spring weather, building a kit might mean the difference between life and death for you or your loved ones. Ensure your family is informed on potential dangers by visiting https://home.army.mil/riley/index.php/about/dir-staff/DPTMS/ready-army for more information and by following the four Ready Army tenants for preparedness.Next week’s article, Get Involved, Part 5, will discuss how you can get involved in your community to increase everyone’s preparedness in the event of severe weather emergencies.