Preparing for Specific Situations

Lightning or Severe Thunderstorms

During a severe thunderstorm with frequent lightning, it is important to keep away from anything that conducts electricity, such as stoves, metal pipes, fireplaces, doors and windows. Unplug unnecessary electronic devices, and if possible, use a cellular phone instead of a landline in the event you need to get in touch with family. If you are caught outside in a lightning storm, seek shelter immediately. If you are unable to find shelter, crouch down with your feet together and head down. This will minimize contact with the ground, lessening the chance that you would be electrocuted from a ground strike.


Tornadoes are one of the more destructive forces seen here in Michigan. The storms that spawn tornadoes can form quickly and without warning, leaving little time to prepare. Modern technology, however, has increased our ability to forecast these events. If a tornado watch has been issued for the area, be alert. Pay attention to signs indicative of worsening weather conditions. If a tornado warning is sounded, take shelter immediately. Move to the lowest level of your residence, preferably a basement. If your home does not have a basement, move to the centermost portion of your home, and take shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture if possible. If time allows grab your emergency supply kit and keep it nearby.

Winter Storms

Perhaps the most frequent incident in our state which may yield a cause for an emergency is a winter storm or ice storm. We are all familiar with Michigan winters, and we know how inundating they can be. In some cases, a massive snowfall or ice storm may cause you to lose power for an extended period of time. It is important to have a battery-powered radio handy so you may keep abreast of the storm's progress. If you must go outside, dress appropriately, in several layers. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid traveling at all costs until officials have had a chance to make roadways passable once again.

Fire in your Home

Another, perhaps more common emergency situation is a fire at your place of employment or home. However, there are some simple steps you can take to prepare yourself if a fire should occur. Installing and checking smoke alarms, purchasing fire extinguishers, and checking electrical wires for cracks or frays can greatly reduce the chance of a fire in your home.

Weather Advisories

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Indicates that conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm to strike
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning - Indicates that a severe thunderstorm has either been spotted by trained storm spotters in the area or has been located on radar
  • Winter Weather Advisory - When a winter weather event is imminent but causes merely an inconvenience
  • Winter Storm Watch - A significant amount of winter weather (i.e. heavy snow, heavy sleet, freezing rain) is expected for the area, but is not imminent. This typically gives an advanced warning of 12-36 hours
  • Winter Storm Warning - A significant winter storm or hazardous weather is occurring, is imminent, or is likely, posing a threat to life and property
  • Blizzard Warning - One can expect winds in excess of 35 mph, blowing snow, that may reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less for at least 3 hours, and dangerous wind chills are expected


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