We like to think that we can’t be surprised by the weather in Michigan. But every so often, Mother Nature throws a curve ball and wreaks havoc on our state. Make sure that you and your family know what to do when caught off guard by severe weather or other emergencies.

  1. Know the potential dangers. No storm is created equal – and the way we respond shouldn’t be either. While Michigan is generally safe from major earthquakes and hurricanes; we can get hit with extreme blizzards, tornadoes and flooding. Understanding what type of weather events you may encounter will help you determine what plans you need to set in place.
  2. Create a contact list. Emergency numbers, family contacts, doctors, etc. – each family member should have a list of phone numbers and addresses they may need during an emergency. Have these numbers on each phone and update as they change. Laminated, hard copies are also good to keep in backpacks, cars, purses, emergency kits, in the event you don’t have access to your phone.
  3. Establish meeting places. If a big event occurs, you may not be able to rely on cellphones and other traditional communication channels. It’s important that everyone in your family knows where they should go. Keep in mind, different events may yield different answers. During tornadoes, you are likely to take shelter where you are at and meet after weather clears. If your area is being evacuated, or if your home is too damaged to go back to, your family might meet at a relative’s or friend’s house.
  4. Pack an emergency kit, and keep it stocked. Determine what essential items you will need during an emergency – water, phone chargers, flashlights, medications, nonperishable foods, change of clothes/shoes, etc. – and set reminder dates to update your pack with fresh supplies. Get the whole family involved by creating a scavenger hunt to find all of the items of the list. For suggestions on what to pack, check out the CDC’s recommended emergency supplies.
  5. Practice emergency scenarios. What use are emergency plans if you can’t remember them when you need them? Mark drill dates on your calendar to practice various scenarios. You can make it fun by turning it into a game. Family members can collect points for each step they complete successfully. Deduct points if they skip a step or do something unsafe.

The most important step in safety is preparation. Use some of these templates and checklists from beprepared.com to get your family started today.