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Categorized | Featured, News

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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