Spinal Column: National Preparedness Month

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

The recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma inflicted devastating damage to the Houston area and to much of Florida.

While the chances of being affected by hurricanes here in Michigan are small, we do regularly experience hazardous weather and other emergency situations, including tornadoes, winter storms, flooding and power outages.

September is National Preparedness Month. Each year, Michigan Prepares joins with national, regional and local governments, as well as private and public organizations, in supporting emergency preparedness.

Now is a good time to make sure your family knows what to do in case of an emergency. Many disasters strike without warning, and when they do, family members may not all be in the same location. It’s important to have a plan for getting in touch with each other, knowing where to meet, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Basic information for creating an emergency plan includes the following:

Checking In and Initial Contact.
• Designate one person to be the point of contact for each family member to call or email.
• If possible, text, don’t talk (unless absolutely necessary).
• Establish the basics during initial contact, but keep it short with only need-to-know information.

Contact Information.
• Keep your family’s contact information and meeting spot location in your backpack, wallet or purse.
• Store in your cell phone all the information you might need to know.
• Establish alternative methods of communication in case traditional means are not available.

Where to Meet.
• Create an escape plan with two ways out of every room, and practice the plan twice a year.
• Choose a meeting spot near your home, and practice getting there.
• Choose a spot outside of your neighborhood in case you can’t get home. Practice getting there from school, friends’ houses and after-school activities.

Natural Disasters.
In addition to a basic emergency plan, all families should have a plan for the following natural disasters:
Flood. Visit ready.gov/floods.
Power Outage. Visit ready.gov/power-outage.
Wildfire. Visit ready.gov/wildfires.
Hurricane. Visit ready.gov/hurricanes.

A free app for iPhones and Android phones — Michigan Prepares — can help your family plan for emergencies in a few quick steps. Along with helping you pull together the right information to create an emergency plan, the app covers basic supply checklists, Michigan-specific hazard fact sheets and links to other resources.

To find the app, and for more information, plan templates, supply checklists and more, visit www.michigan.gov/michiganprepares.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.