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Take Cover Michigan: Statewide Tornado Drill on April 16

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Do you know what you would do in a tornado warning?  Photo courtesy of NOAA

Kent County to participate without sirens

Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is this week, and the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is asking residents to prepare for severe weather by participating in a voluntary, statewide tornado drill at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 16.

Businesses, organizations, schools, families and individuals are encouraged to be a part of this statewide preparedness activity, but not required to do so. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will be participating.

According to Lt. Jack Stewart, Emergency Management Coordinator for Kent County, they will participate, but without sirens. “We are encouraging all county employees and department heads to review severe weather protocol and procedures with staff,” he explained. “We run the sirens once a month, and just did so a week ago, and they were all working, so don’t see a need to run them again.”

Residents can practice what they would do with or without a siren. Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD just wants people to be ready.

“Tornadoes can develop rapidly, with little or no warning,” he said. “Due to their unpredictable nature, we must be ready well in advance. We’re asking citizens and businesses to take a few extra steps during the week to ensure they’re prepared and safe.”

While tornadoes can occur during any time of the year, they are especially common during the late spring and early summer months. As one of nature’s most violent storms, they can devastate homes and property in just seconds.

The average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes, which means citizens need to be ready to react quickly when a warning is issued.

To be ready for a tornado:

*Identify the lowest place to take cover during a tornado. If a basement does not exist, find an interior hallway away from windows, doors and outside walls.

*Go under something sturdy—such as a workbench or stairwell—when taking shelter in the basement or designated spot.

*Conduct regular tornado drills. Make sure each household member knows where to go and what to do in the event of a tornado.

*Stay tuned to commercial radio or television broadcasts for news on changing weather conditions or approaching storms.

*Know the difference: a Tornado Watch means conditions exist for a tornado to develop; a tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

*Be aware of the following signs that can indicate an approaching tornado:

*Dark, often greenish sky

*Large hail

*A large, dark low-lying cloud

*Loud roar, similar to a freight train

*Develop a 72-hour emergency supply kit with essential items such as a three-day supply of water and food, a NOAA Weather Radio, important family documents and items that satisfy unique family needs.

As a part of regional partnership and collaboration, the Michigan statewide tornado drill has been scheduled to occur at the same time and date as the Minnesota and Wisconsin statewide tornado drills.

For more information about being safe before, during and after a tornado, go to follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or go to www.michigan.gov/beprepared. Emergency preparedness information is also available at www.ready.gov/tornadoes.


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