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The original item was published from 4/6/2023 12:10:51 PM to 6/1/2023 12:00:05 AM.

News Flash


Posted on: April 7, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Severe Weather Safety

Severe Weather Safety

In Michigan, severe weather can happen anytime with thunderstorms, damaging winds, tornadoes, hail, flooding, freezing rain, sleet, snow, and strong winds.  In a typical year, more than 1,200 tornadoes occur throughout the United States, and nearly 12,000 reports of wind and hail are received from local first responders and the public.  

Be Prepared

Stay safe during severe weather by taking the time now to prepare yourself and your family for the coming storms.

How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings? 

  • Portage Public Safety provides emergency information leading up to and during weather emergencies through our social media sites.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @Portage MI Dept of Public Safety - Police & Fire for the most up to date weather warnings and information. 
  • The city maintains a system of outdoor warning sirens, which provide warning notifications to citizens while they are outdoors in the event of a weather emergency.  The sirens  are not designed to wake residents from sleep or be heard over other home activities. The warning siren system is tested on the first Saturday of every month at 1 PM, during which the sirens are sounded to ensure they are operating properly.
  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are designed to alert cell phone users of severe weather and other national emergencies based on their physical location at the time of the emergency.  Visit
  • NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service (NWS) office.  NWR requires a special radio capable of picking up the signal, which can be purchased at many retail outlets or online.  Visit
  • Anytime severe weather threatens a geographical area, the NWS will interrupt local TV and radio stations to provide relevant information pertaining to the severe weather emergency in the area.
  • Portage Alert is the city’s mass notification service.  Sign up now to receive important emergency information from the city such as severe weather alerts, road closures, or other emergency situations.  Visit

What is my shelter plan?

  • To effectively shelter, choose a place in your home or business that is safe during severe weather like a basement or a small interior room on the lowest level and away from windows, such as a bathroom or closet. 
  • Consider those with disabilities or limited access and functional needs, including devices and equipment.
  • Store a basic first-aid kit, a radio, a cell phone and a flashlight/batteries in your safe room.

Communicating in disasters

  • Text is best when using a mobile phone, but if you make a phone call, keep it brief and convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family to minimize network congestion and conserve battery power. 
  • Conserve your mobile phone battery.  Reduce the brightness of the screen, close all unneeded apps, and limit other activities on the phone.
  • Many landline phones need electricity to operate and will likely not work during a power outage.
  • Smart911 is a free service where you can create a private and secure safety profile for your family, including any information you want 9-1-1 to have during an emergency.  You can include details such as family members, photos, medical notes, pets, and emergency contacts.  Visit
  • The NWS has additional resources for those who are hearing impaired, have an intellectual disability or are non-English speaking. These resources can be found on the Safety Campaign tab at

Make a Disaster Supply Kit

In the event of a major severe weather event, utilities such as gas, electric, water, sewer, and roads, can be effected.  Some or all services may be unavailable for days.  Families should have a disaster supply kit prepared with enough supplies to last for at least 72 hours.  Tailor the supplies to your specific needs and responsibilities, such as dietary needs, medical needs including prescriptions and equipment that may require electricity, and pets or service animals.  Your kit should include:

  • At least one gallon of water per person and animal per day.
  • Non-perishable food that does not require cooking.
  • Flashlight or lanterns (not candles due to the risk of fire). 
  • Extra batteries for all items including cell phones.
  • Wrench or pliers to assist in shutting of utilities if needed.
  • Gas and oil for your generator (if applicable).

If your home is without power, avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by not using grills, unvented gas or kerosene heaters, generators, or ovens and stoves indoors.  

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep the contents inside as fresh as possible.  If you must eat the food in your refrigerator, check for signs of spoilage.

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