With Gov. Rick Snyder declaring Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week from April 8-14, emergency management partners statewide are encouraging Michiganders to conduct a statewide tornado drill at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 11.

All businesses, organizations, families and individuals are welcome to participate in the voluntary statewide preparedness activity. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will be participating.

While tornadoes can occur any time of the year, they are especially common during the late spring and early summer months. As one of nature’s most violent storms, they can devastate homes and property in just seconds. The average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes, which means residents need to be ready to react quickly when a warning is issued.


A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)


  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • If you see approaching storms or any of these signs, be prepared to take a shelter immediately

 During a Tornado

With tornadoes having the ability to touch down in a matter of minutes, Michigan residents need to be prepared to quickly react and launch an emergency plan.


  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately. If there is a tornado watch in your area, monitor local media and seek shelter when thunderstorms approach.
  • If you are in a building—like a home, small building, school or business—go to a pre-designated safe room, basement, storm shelter or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a smaller interior room, such as a closet or hallway, that is away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
  • Once you are in lower level room of a building, make sure to protect your head and neck.
  • Make sure to bring your emergency preparedness kit to your pre-designated safe room to have emergency supplies ready in the event help cannot reach you right away.
  • If you live in a mobile home, exit the home and immediately go to a designated storm shelter. Even when mobile homes are tied down, they offer very little protection from a tornado.


  • If you are outside during a tornado, the only safe location is a sturdy permanent building. Seek that shelter immediately. Go to the lowest level and seek shelter in an interior room without any windows.
  • If you cannot get to a shelter, get to your vehicle and drive to the nearest shelter. If flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt on, covering your head and lying below the windows. If you can safely get to an area noticeably lower than the road, exit the vehicle and lie in that area covering your head with your hands.
  • DO NOT seek shelter under an overpass or bridge. These are some of the most dangerous locations and you will be exposed to flying debris.
  • Stay away from objects that can be easily blown around. Most people injured from tornados from flying debris.
  • If you are boating, go to land and seek shelter immediately.

After a Tornado

Once a tornado passes through your area, make sure all family members are safe and secure. Afterward, assess damages and stay safe by following the appropriate steps:

  • Inspect your property and motor vehicles for damage.
  • Write down the date and list the damages for insurances purposes. Take pictures and videos of the damage.
  • Check for electrical problems or gas leaks and report them to your local utility company at once.
  • Watch out for and stay 25 feet away from downed power lines.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings until you are sure they are safe and will not collapse.
  • Secure your property from further damage or theft.
  • Use only chlorinated or bottled water for drinking. Check on your food supply because if stored in a refrigerator or freezer with no power, food will spoil.

Use the food and water supply in your emergency preparedness kit for your family if power is out.

Tornadoes and Pets

Tornadoes not only put stress on people, but also on family pets. Tornadoes often produce anxiety, fear and a need to escape for pets. Flying debris and high winds can also leave pets susceptible to injury if they are left unprotected outside. Make sure to take preparedness measures for pets before, during and after a tornado.


Preparing your pet for a tornado:

  • Create an emergency supply kit for your pet that includes:
    • Leash and collar
    • Transport carrier
    • Food and water (3-5 day supply)
    • Any medications
    • Vaccination history, rabies certificate
    • Waste disposal supplies
    • A blanket
    • Favorite toy
    • Your veterinarian’s contact information
    • Special supplies for pets such as birds, pocket pets or reptiles (e.g., heat lamps)
  • Make sure pets are current on all vaccinations.
  • Develop an evacuation plan for your pets.
    • For public health reasons, many evacuation shelters will not be able to accept pets.
    • Identify pet-friendly locations in case you need to evacuate. www.petswelcome.com is a good source.
    • Check with boarding facilities, pet-friendly hotels, veterinary clinics, relatives or family friends outside the impacted area.
  • Ensure your pet can be identified.
    • All pets should have some sort of identification, like a collar with a tag and microchip.
    • Take a photo of the pet and keep it with the medical records.
    • Include any proof of ownership materials, such as registration, proof of purchase, adoption records and microchip information.
  • Practice getting the entire family, including your pet, to the tornado safe area before a tornado event occurs.
  • Practice learning how to quickly and safely secure your pet in an emergency.

During a tornado:

  • Bring your pets inside immediately in advance if possible.
  • NEVER leave pets outside and avoid leaving them behind if possible during a tornado watch or warning.
    • If there is no other alternative, leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water.
    • NEVER leave your pet chained outside or enclosed in a way they cannot escape danger.
  • If your pet is frightened, reassure them and remain calm.
  • Pets should be provided the same cover as humans during severe weather.
  • Put all pets into cages or carriers in the safe room when a tornado warning is issued. Animals can sense bad weather and often will look for a place to hide or escape if they sense it’s near.

After a tornado:

  • Be aware that a pet’s behavior may change before, during and even after a disaster.
  • Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost.
    • In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside.
    • Always maintain close contact.
    • Reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions, especially if animals have been without food for a prolonged period of time.
  • Keep your pet away from storm damaged areas. Power lines could be down and dangerous objects can be littered everywhere.
  • If your pet is lost and cannot be found after a disaster, contact your local animal control office. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
  • Source: www.Prep4AgThreats.org

 American Red Cross Tornado App

The American Red Cross Tornado App provides users local and real-time NOAA tornado watch and warning alerts—whether it’s the community where they live or places where friends and loved ones live. It also gives instant access to information on what to do before, during and after tornadoes. The app is free and available in English and Spanish. It’s designed for iPhone, iPad and Android smart phones and tablets.

Key features:

  • Audible siren when NOAA issues a Tornado warning for any of your monitored locations letting you know when it’s time to go to your safe room plus an all-clear alert when the warning expires (Note: Alerts’ sounds will NOT override if phone is on vibrate or in sleep mode)
  • Simple step-by-step instructions to help you know what-to-do even if the cell towers and TVs are down. Prioritized actions for before, during, and after requires no mobile connectivity
  • Help distant friends and family in tornado alley with ability to receive tornado watch and warning alerts based on their location from NOAA
  • Red Cross location-based open shelters map for when you need it most

Other information:

  • Be ready should a tornado hit by learning how to assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of power outage or evacuation
  • Reduce your household’s stress and anxiety should a tornado hit by learning to make and practice an emergency plan
  • Know the difference between a watch and a warning
  • Learn how to deal with food and water impacted by floods and power outages
  • Simply let friends/family know you’re safe with customizable “I’m Safe” notification sharable thru social media, text and email
  • Let others know where you are with the Toolkit’s strobe light, flashlight and audible alert functions


For more information about the Tornado App, go to www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/tornado-app.


Do 1 Thing

Do 1 Thing is a national nonprofit organization that encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to prepare for all hazards and to become disaster resilient.

This award-winning nonprofit is not an awareness program, but a call to action. Their curriculum is based on research into the reasons people don’t prepare and designed to overcome those barriers, including:

  • It’s too hard.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • It won’t happen here.
  • I don’t know where to start.

The basis of the call to action is 12 monthly fact sheets—12 steps—that cover different areas of emergency preparedness. Each fact sheet has a goal and a “what/why” statement that is designed to motivate people to act.

Through community partners, Do 1 Thing curriculum is designed to be turnkey system for any community or organization. Organizations with limited resources can easily incorporate the preparedness materials.

In addition, Do 1 Thing Business is designed to overcome the barriers that keep small and medium-sized organizations from preparing for a disaster. Many small businesses and nonprofits feel that they don’t have the resources—time, money or expertise—to create a continuity plan.

To learn more about making your community more resilient, go to www.do1thing.com.




Additional Resources

    • www.michigan.gov/miready—Preparedness information provided by the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division about what to do before, during and after an emergency or disaster.
    • www.michigan.gov/prepare—Emergency preparedness health and safety information by the Michigan Department of Community Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness.
    • www.redcross.org —Tornado safety information from the American Red Cross.
    • www.Prep4AgThreats.orgResources to help rural communities prepare for disasters and other hazards by the center for Food Security and Public Health.
  • www.ready.gov—Resources and information about all-hazards emergency preparedness.


  • www.mcswa.com—Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness.
  • http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/—National Weather Service’s Weather Ready Nation. Help your community, organization, or business become weather ready and serve as an example for others to follow.
  • www.do1thing.com— A 12-step preparedness program designed to make communities more resilient through all hazards.


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