Spring marks return of possible severe weather.

Sure, spring marks the return of warmer weather to Oklahoma. But, it also anchors the leading edge of the season for severe weather. That means now is the time to get ready in case violent storms such as tornadoes sweep across the state.


Most families know it is important to prepare in advance of potential emergencies, but still do not do it, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.


"Today's families are faced with tight budgets and tighter schedules that leave little time for extras, even important ones like emergency preparedness. Meanwhile, some simply don't believe they'll ever face a disaster," Peek said.


However, the reality is disasters can happen to anyone and preparing ahead increases the chances of you and your family safely riding out volatile weather.

"Oklahomans pride themselves on being independent and self-reliant," she said. "Taking the time to get ready in case of a disaster or emergency is a reflection of that spirit of independence."


Check www.ready.gov<http://www.ready.gov/> for a list of basic supplies your emergency kit should include. Also, think about your specific needs, as well as the needs of other family members and pets, said Sonya McDaniel, Pottawatomie County, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator.


For instance, women may need to add feminine hygiene items, pets may need food and a water bowl and babies will need formula and diapers. To control costs, start by shopping in your own home.


"Check shelves, drawers, closets and cabinets for useful items such as a flashlight, extra batteries and nonperishable food products," McDaniel said. "You also can organize a preparedness party and invite guests to bring extra items they are willing to donate or exchange for things they need to complete their own kits."


If you do have to shop for food to stock your kit, try purchasing items on sale over time or taking advantage of two-for-one sales.


Make the food in your kit off limits, but remember to rotate in fresher items at least every 6 months. Since most dates stamped on food items are for quality, not safety, it is okay to use the older items you pull out of your kit.


Finally, McDaniel said make a list of everyday things you may need to grab at the last minute in the event of a severe weather threat or other emergency. The list could include cash, cell phones, prescription medicines, purses or wallets with your identification and a crate or leash for your pet.


Families with young children may consider picking up bicycle helmets to protect kids' heads. Feel free to add a small favorite toy, as well.