Prepare yourself and family members for severe weather and other natural disasters

Michigan is among the states most at risk for severe weather disasters, and residents are urged to prepare themselves, especially those with young children, pets and family members with disabilities, so they are ready when disaster strikes.

Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week will take place from April 15-21, and Michigan residents should be sure to obtain packets of important severe weather information so that they can be prepared if and when disaster strikes.

In a disaster local officials and relief workers cannot reach everyone immediately. Help might not arrive for hours or days. You and your family need to be prepared in advance as you will likely not have time to shop or assemble the necessary supplies when a disaster does strike. Sources of severe weather disasters in Michigan typically include blizzards, ice storms, lake effect, heat waves, lightning, thunderstorms and river floods. Less often, tornadoes, wildfire, and hail can occur in Michigan with devastating results.

In 1991, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness was formed to provide information and advice to keep residents prepared when severe weather strikes. Each spring, the committee releases a Severe Weather Awareness packet. Included is a review of the prior year’s severe weather events, a summary by county of tornado history from 1950 to the present day, contact information for the five Michigan National Weather service offices, and fact sheets focusing on tornado and thunderstorm safety, flood preparation and insurance, lightning safety, and disaster preparation for pets. This year, the committee has declared April 15-21 as Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week. Copies of the packet and other severe weather-related information may be obtained at their website, http://mcswa.com.

 This year, Michigan and much of the nation have experienced an unusual amount of severe weather. Several counties in northern Michigan were hit with heavy, wet snow in early March that resulted in a great number of downed trees and power lines, leaving many homes without power for several days. In mid-March southern Michigan had tornado activity that destroyed 13 homes and damaged more than 100 others. An early spring warmup with record-breaking high daytime temperatures in the latter half of March followed by overnight temperatures below freezing have fruit growers concerned about this year’s crop.

Regardless of the type of disaster, there are things you can do to prepare. There is a wealth of information available on the following websites among others: Red CrossFederal Emergency Management Agency, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Disasters can occur suddenly and without warning. They can be frightening for adults, but they are especially traumatic for children. Prepare them for how to respond in advance as you might not be near when a disaster occurs.

After you have identified the types of disasters that could strike where you live, create a family disaster plan that can apply to any type of disaster and prepare an emergency supplies kit.

Make yourself familiar with what emergency resources exist in your local community. These might include a local chapter of the Red Cross, county emergency management services, and faith-based assistance. 

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