If the parade of powerful hurricanes that have claimed many lives, damaged many millions in property and left many people without basic living needs weren't enough, Mexico City was rocked by a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds and caused extensive damage to that city.
Each year, it's also common to see reports from the southern and middle portions of the country about outbreaks of powerful tornadoes often also leading to major destruction and loss of life.
Fortunately for us, Michigan is fairly safe from most of these natural disasters. We're too far away from the tropics to worry much about tropical storms.
Michigan — especially central and southern portions of the state — does experience severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but seldom with the frequency and ferocity of storms that threatens "Tornado Alley" and other locations. And, although not immune from earthquakes, Michigan only rarely has them and they are typically low in intensity.
But that doesn't mean we are completely free from all of Mother Nature's threats.
An official at the National Weather Service office in Gaylord told the News-Review that winter weather and wind are a much greater risk to residents in this area.
With all these natural disasters making headlines elsewhere and, despite our recent bout of unseasonably warm weather, winter is just weeks away. We think it's a good time for folks to think about how prepared they for such situations.
One recommendation we regularly hear from officials is to have an emergency kit in your car during the winter, in case you become stranded in a storm.
The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division recommends keeping a kit in your vehicle that includes:
— Small battery powered or hand-crank radio
— Extra batteries
— Cellular phone and charger
— Windshield scraper
— Jumper cables
— Extra blankets and clothes
— Non-perishable food and bottled water
— First aid kit
— Tire repair kit and pump
— "Call Police" or other "Help" sign
In the home, the department recommends creating an emergency preparedness kit for you home that includes the following items:
— Water, at least 3 gallons of water per person
— Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food per person
— Prescribed medications
— Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
— Flashlight and extra batteries
— First aid kit
— Whistle to signal for help
— Pet supplies
— A complete change of clothing and footwear for each person
— Important family documents
— Extra clothes and blankets
And while we're on the subject of being prepared, home heating season is right around the corner, and it's always a good idea to make sure your smoke detectors are all working, and that all members of your family know what to do and where to meet in the event of a fire.
The American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control have extensive recommendations for disaster and emergency planning on their respective websites, also. Visit www.redcross.org or emergency.cdc.gov for much more information.
A little planning and effort now could make a big difference in the future.
PETOSKEY NEWS-REVIEW (AP)