In northern Michigan, winter storms can range from moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard that lasts for days.
Regardless of the severity of the storm, the American Red Cross wants people in northwest Michigan to be prepared and to remain safe during these events.
Volunteers are on standby in case shelters need to be opened due to mass power outages or other service interruptions.
"You never know how severe a storm will be until it hurts, and by then it may be too late to start preparing," said Kevin Bavers, Executive Director of the Northwest Michigan Chapter of the Red Cross. "As individuals, we need to be ready ahead of time and have at least three days' worth of food and water on hand, in case of service interruptions."
The Red Cross warns residents to prepare for a storm by doing the following; Building a general preparedness kit, making a home disaster plan, and making sure you know local emergency radio stations (in northern Michigan they are 103.5 FM and 580 AM).
The organization also urges residents to know the difference between a winter storm watch and warning. A watch is issued when winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. During a warning, severe weather conditions have already begun or will begin within 24 hours. In the case of a warning, people should immediately take precautions.
The Red Cross recommends having the following items on hand in a convenient spot:
-At least a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and non-perishable food
-A flashlight, battery powered NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries
-A well-stocked first aid kit
-A 7-day supply of medications and medical items
-Supplies for babies and pets
-At least one change of warm, dry clothing
The Red Cross also suggests minimizing travel. If it is necessary, remember to keep emergency supplies in the car with you.
"By building a kit, making a plan and being informed, you help not only your own family by being prepared, but you lighten the burden on emergency responders so they can focus on those who need it most," Bavers said.