Minnesota gets ready for summer weather; Have a plan for when a storm strikes

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ST. PAUL — A cool spring has blanketed much of Minnesota, but a change in weather and the storms that typically come with it are on the way.

Tornadoes have occurred in Minnesota from March to November and last year, there were 39 reported touchdowns in the state. While there were no reported injuries or deaths in 2015, those tornadoes serve as a good reminder for families to have an emergency plan in place.

“It is easy to become complacent when it’s been a while since our last severe weather outbreak, but it only takes one event to cause devastating damage, injury or death,” said Joe Kelly director of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DPS-HSEM) in a press release. “We all need to be prepared, because in Minnesota, it’s not a matter of if but when.”

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Severe Weather Awareness Week, which began Monday, is a good time to plan ahead for Minnesota’s most common severe weather incidents including tornadoes, high winds, hail, lightning and flooding.

To reduce their risks, families should take an opportunity to make an emergency plan that includes:

• The safest location to take shelter in their home.

• Where they would meet if they are separated and are unable to return home.

• Where they would go if authorities order an evacuation.

•Identify appropriate contacts in case of injury.

•How changes in the family — aging parents, babies, new pets — will impact their preparedness.

•Create an emergency supply kit.

Emergency supply kits can assist families if the power goes out, or if they are trapped inside a damaged home. A simple kit should include a three-day supply of water and food, a flashlight, and a whistle to alert authorities. If families need to evacuate, they should have money, identification, a cell phone and charger, bottled water and snacks ready to bring with them.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DPS-HSEM) partners with the National Weather Service and local emergency managers to promote Severe Weather Awareness Week. Each day focuses on one important topic:

•Monday — Alerts and warnings

•Tuesday — Severe weather, lightning and hail

•Wednesday — Floods

•Thursday — Tornadoes (with statewide tornado drills at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.)

•Friday — Extreme heat

Now through April 15, be sure to follow Minnesota DPS and HSEM online and follow #SpringSafety on Twitter and Facebook for educational opportunities and important information about Severe Weather Awareness Week.