Be prepared when emergencies arise

Watching the devastation the storm Harvey has wreaked in Texas and other southern states — and now Irma looms in the Caribbean — it perhaps could not be a better time to mark National Preparedness Month in September.

Granted, Michigan doesn’t face being in the path of a hurricane or on a fault line that could trigger a major earthquake.

But there are other threats. The number of heavy rain events that cause flooding seem to be on the rise. Tornadoes can happen, even this far north. And here in the Upper Peninsula, the amount of forested land can give rise to wildfires, though perhaps not on the scale of what’s seen in the West.

Other potential emergency scenarios here include a chemical leak or explosion and, of course, severe winter storms that can shut down whole regions for days.

Each year, Michigan Prepares joins with national, regional and local governments as well as private and public organizations to support being prepared for such emergencies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s theme for the month in 2017 is “The Power of Preparedness.”

The focus this year will be on four different steps — one for each week in September — Michigan residents can take to become more prepared for emergencies:

Week One — Ready

Build a kit. Make a plan. Be informed. Each family has unique needs that must be incorporated into their preparedness plans. Children, older adults, and individuals with medical conditions and physical disabilities all have unique needs during and after disasters.

How to take action: Disaster preparedness starts with personal preparedness. Go to the Plan section of the MI Prepares website, at www.michigan.gov/michiganprepares, to find emergency plan templates and supply checklists to plan for your families unique needs. Those with a smartphone can download the MI Prepares Emergency Plan mobile app to create, manage and export a family preparedness plan from that device. Go to the Be Informed section of MI Prepares to learn more about the common hazards in Michigan. It’s important to know the types of emergencies that could happen and what steps should be taken if they do.

Week Two — Steady

Review plans and update the preparedness kit. Emergencies can happen while at home or work, or while children are at school.

How to take action: Utilize the checklists on Michigan Prepares to think about what sort of supplies might be needed if away from home during an emergency. Discuss emergency meeting places with your family in case you were separated and could not call each other. Take time during staff meetings and school functions to discuss what sort of emergency plans and drills are in place for the hazards that could occur.

Week Three — Show

Inspire others to prepare. People in the same neighborhood are most likely to be the first to offer help during an emergency.

How to take action: Take time to meet your neighbors. In an emergency, neighbors can help each other before responders can arrive. Share your emergency plan with your neighbors, and encourage them to create their own personal emergency plans. Another great way to help your community is by joining the MI Volunteer Registry, which will match a person’s skills to where they are needed most in a disaster. There is no obligation to respond if contacted during an emergency.

Week 4 — Go!

Take immediate action to save lives. How to take action: Connect with local, state and federal agencies to keep updated on health and safety issues and to receive important updates during an emergency. Go to the Connect section of MI Prepares for a list of contacts and resources that can help before, during, and after an emergency.

Follow @MIPrepares, @CDCemergency, and @Readygov on Twitter for preparedness tips throughout National Preparedness Month tweets. Use the hashtags #NatlPrep and #PlanAhead.

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