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Tag Archive | "Kent County Emergency Management"

Severe weather week: make plans now

Sirens to sound Friday, April 5

When sirens sound at noon on Friday, April 5 in Kent County, it will be a reminder that severe weather season is here in Michigan and now is the time to make plans in case severe weather hits.

Kent County Emergency Management (KCEM) will test the sirens on the first Friday of the month at noon, from April through October. “The purpose of the outdoor warning sirens is to alert citizens of an imminent hazard and to prompt them to find shelter and seek further information,” it said in a news release from KCEM. 

Two examples of imminent severe weather are: a tornado warning for Kent County and/or a storm in Kent County with sustained winds at or above 70mph. Both are potentially dangerous situations and should prompt citizens to take shelter in the lowest level of a building, such as a basement, or an interior room that does not have windows.

Severe Weather Week in Michigan this year is March 24-30. This represents a great time for families to talk about severe weather and how they can prepare, respond and recover from a storm. It is important to plan for disasters to know how you and your family will be aware of watches and warnings, how to contact each other, and where to safely shelter. 

Being aware and vigilant whenever severe weather is in the forecast is now easier than ever. The outdoor warning sirens in Kent County only represent one type of alert, with many more now available such as: weather and preparedness apps, local television and radio, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios. 

A severe weather watch means the potential exists for the development of storms/tornadoes, so be mindful of changing conditions. 

A severe weather warning means that storms are imminent or occurring. 

A severe weather plan should include how your family will communicate with one another before and after the event. A good plan should include pre-determined rooms in your home where you and your family can shelter safely. Establishing a safe and familiar alternative location is also advisable, in case family members cannot make it home quickly, or the event has already occurred and access to home is blocked or dangerous. 

Make sure you have flashlights with fresh batteries, a can opener, drinking water and canned food items for three days, an all-weather radio and a first aid kit. Maintaining a full charge on cell phones and electronics during a severe weather watch can ensure that you receive further direction from authorities, weather updates and can contact family. If a disaster does occur, be aware of compromised buildings, debris and downed power lines. Contact 911 if there are injuries to you, your family, or your neighbors. Photograph the damage to your property if it can be done safely, and check and re-stock emergency supply kits for the future.

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Early snowstorm slams West Michigan

Blowing snow, wind chills in the single digits and icy roads put the area in a deep freeze, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, causing hundreds of schools to close and many drivers to slide off the road.

Heavy lake effect snow piled up across the area, with most areas getting somewhere around a foot. According to WOOD-TV8, Tuesday’s high temperature of 19 degrees was the coldest high temperature ever recorded for that date in Grand Rapids. That’s 27 degrees below average. At this same time last year, on November 17, we had severe weather that even spawned tornadoes across the state.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Kent County was under another winter weather advisory until early Friday morning, with another 6-8 inches of snow expected. By Saturday and Sunday, temps are expected to climb above freezing again.

Now that winter seems to be here, Kent County Emergency Management reminds everyone to pay attention to weather conditions before heading out the door. Give yourself a few extra minutes to arrive on time.

The cold can cause problems for many, especially people with pre-existing medical conditions, young children, and seniors. “Be a good friend or neighbor. Check on those who are elderly or have a medical condition,” says Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator. “Making a daily call or visit part of your routine could really help someone in need.”

If you haven’t shut off water to your outdoor spigots yet, do it now. Make sure you have emergency kits in your car and home this winter. The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness recommends you keep the following items in your home: Battery-powered flashlight, Batteries, Weather and/or portable radio, Extra food (canned or dried food is best) and a can opener, Bottled water (at least 3 gallons per person), First aid kit.

“If you lose power in your home and use a generator, be sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning,” Stewart says. “Also know the hazards if you need an emergency heating source, like a space heater.” Keep emergency supplies in your car as well. A small battery powered radio and extra batteries, a cell phone, and a blanket should always be kept within reach.

This early in the season, pets may be more vulnerable to the cold. Keep pets indoors as much as possible. The smaller the pet, the quicker the cold impacts them. Puppies and kittens are especially sensitive to the cold, as are older pets. Watch out for community cats that might crawl under the hood of your car to keep warm. Bang loudly on the hood before starting the car, and never leave pets in a car during the winter. Temperatures can be just as cold inside the car as they are outdoors.

More tips on winter preparedness from the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness can be found at: www.mcswa.com/Winter-Hazards.html.


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