Severe Weather Awareness Week: Officials say to get prepared

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Don't be surprised if you get a call, text or e-mail from your local sheriff's office this week. As part of severe weather awareness week, officials want to make sure they can reach you in an emergency.

The Notify Joco System is a relatively new emergency alert system in Johnson County. Johnson County uses its alert system to get immediate information out to subscribers during a tornado, crime scene, school lockdown, bomb scare and even if an infectious disease has been reported in our area.

In a major emergency, the Notify Joco System can send out at least 100,000 notifications an hour.

Tom Erickson, spokesperson for the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, said it is a way for people who live, work, or have children who attend schools in the area to stay informed.

"When we have something like a chemical leak where we need to evacuate people from a substantial area, then we are able to target that directly to them to let them know hey we really need you to evacuate because we have a chemical coming in your direction,” he said.

To sign up, log onto www.notifyjoco.org. You don't have to live in Johnson County to sign up for the alerts.

This week, emergency officials are also urging Missouri and Kansas residents to come up with a plan for you and your family if a tornado touches down in our area.

A test of the emergency alert sirens was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but the snow has pushed back that alert to 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Across both sides of the state line, schools, businesses and families will use that time to practice their tornado drills and find a safe place to weather the storm.

Dan Robeson, Johnson County Emergency Management Deputy Director, said you can never be too prepared for tornado season.

"We want to make sure everybody has a plan and as severe weather season starts up, we want to make sure everybody knows where they'll seek shelter when a tornado warning occurs,” he said.

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