How to prepare your family for potentially severe weather in Michigan

Lightning, tornadoes, flooding are biggest threats

DETROIT – The season is upon us for family vacations and trips to the lake, pool or park. 

Wherever you are headed this summer, it's probably going to be outdoors. The weather will be warm, which is great most of the time. But it can get hot, sometimes too hot. The heat is not the only concern -- with summer comes the storms. 

Summer storms come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be scary, dangerous and destructive. Obviously, you can't stop a storm, but you have the ability to be informed and ready in case one hits close to home. 

Each city and township can have its own rules when it comes to sounding the alarm. Do you know what to look for? Make it your business to know. 

Lightning, thunder

There are many natural signs that nature provides to make you aware that danger is near. Of course, thunder and lightning are some of the more obvious signs. If you're in the water and see lightning, even far off in the distance, get out right away.

Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from a storm. So even if you think you're far enough away, you're not. Even if you don't see a flash, if you hear thunder you're close enough to get struck. 


Tornadoes are most common in Michigan between April and July. You've heard what to do: 

  • Get to the lowest point in your house or building
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and danger

In winds strong enough to flip a car or even a house, items as small as a coin can become extremely dangerous. 

Talking to kids about storms

There are legitimate concerns attached to storms and how they could affect your family's wellbeing. If you're a parent, you've probably had to talk to your children about thunder, lighting, tornadoes and more. 

Dr. Donna Rockwell said this could be a great teaching moment for parents, a way to make the kids feel safe. But kids will have their own hangups. 

"It's normal for kids to be scared," said Rockwell. "It's important for the parent to understand that they are there for the wellbeing and development of their own child. So it's important for you to think of the child's psyche first. So stay calm, reassure the child, talk to them about what storms are about, and make them feel comfortable with them."


Flooding kills more people each year than any other severe weather threat. You probably saw the dramatic images from Michigan's Upper Peninsula earlier this year -- view here. The damage in Houghton, Mich. alone has been assessed at $50 million. 

To be safe, stay informed and make sure your kids know what to expect, and where to go in the event of severe weather. 

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