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Prepare Now for Severe Weather

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle providing relief after Superstorm Sandy.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., November 17, 2013 – With thunderstorms expected and tornado watches in effect for a multiple counties in Michigan, the American Red Cross of West Michigan is urging residents to take steps now to stay safe.

“By preparing for severe weather, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger,” said Chip Kragt, Regional Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross of West Michigan. “With the threat of severe weather in our area, we’re encouraging people to do what they can to prepare now.”  

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for severe weather by doing the following things:

Make a Home Disaster Plan: Pick a “safe room” or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet.  Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.

Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries.

Heed Storm Warnings:  Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.  A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety.  If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.

Prepare for High Winds: If you have time, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind.

Download the Red Cross Tornado App: The Red Cross has a free tornado app for iOS and Droid devices with shelter locations, an “I’m OK” message, and tools and tips on recovering after a tornado. Users will also get weather alerts including ones for thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings.

For more information on severe weather preparedness, visit or call 1-800 RED-CROSS. We urge you to share these Red Cross severe thunderstorm preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.