Washtenaw County Details Emergency Preparedness Plan

Washtenaw County has an emergency operations center that can be activated in the event of an emergency.

Emergencies happen, and can come in many forms. According to www.ready.gov , “You may need to survive a while on your own. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantities of at least 72 hours.” 

Why is it important to prepare for an emergency before one strikes?  

“A little planning now can go a long ways in the future” said Marc Breckenridge Washtenaw County Emergency Services Manager.  “The time you invest today will be worth the effort in the event of an emergency.”

Washtenaw County's plan

Each year Washtenaw County officials perform exercises that include mock scenarios of emergency situations. “The scenario is different each year,” said Breckenridge. ”We never know what kind of emergency we will face.”

Washtenaw County has an emergency operations center that can be activated in the event of an emergency. A variety of authorities, agencies and organizations are included in emergency coordination plans. “There are a lot of key players,” said Breckenridge.

Washtenaw County has also prepared plans in accordance with the Michigan Emergency Management Act (EMA) and also works with federal agencies like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

There are about 650 registered Skywarn spotters that have been trained identify severe weather. Washtenaw County uses a color coded system that outlines different levels of weather emergencies.  

“Anytime there is a threatening situation, officials work with media to announce the location of shelters and other important information,” said Breckenridge. Residents can also tune their radio to FM radio stations 89.1 and 102.7 to hear important information.

Washtenaw County also has a system with Level 1 and Level 2 activation levels. The different levels allow coordination of emergency officials and resources. “It also allows us to expand emergency funds and identify resources in big community events,” said Breckenridge.

 “Level 1 is activated anytime there is a big risk to the community,” said Breckenridge. Level 2 is considered “Full Activation” and is put in place when there is widespread damage and severe loss of life. “During level 2 activation we bring in the executives and make the important decisions,” Breckenridge said.

Communities are also set up to help each other in the event of an emergency and will provide mutual aid to each other if deemed necessary.

Breckenridge said that while officials in the community have set plans in place, it’s important for businesses to also have an emergency plan. “If you have an emergency plan at your business it shows you care about your customers,” he said.

Business emergency pans include having basic supplies on hand as well as planning a safe place for customers to go in an emergency.

However, some of the most important plans are the plans you make at home.

Creating a family emergency plan

There’s a lot to think about while preparing for an emergency, from what supplies you will include in your kit, to a meeting spot you will meet family and friends at should communications systems is completely knocked out.

How will you contact your family during an emergency? Included in your emergency plan should be several locations your family will meet up at in case all communication systems fail. 

Breckenridge said at least three spots should be chosen that family and friends can meet up during an emergency. “More than one spot should be chosen in case one location is compromised,” said Breckenridge.

Your emergency plan should also include at least a three day supply of essentials to get you through.

Family emergency supply list


  • One gallon of water per person per day.  
  • Drinking water should be unbreakable and stored in sealed containers.
  • Water can be boiled for a minimum of 15 minutes to purify it from contaminants.
  • Water purifying tablets can also be purchased from outdoor or army supply stores.


  • Canned foods and non-perishable items should be included in an emergency kit.
  • High protein foods can include items like beef jerky, peanut butter and canned meat.
  • Juices, candy, soup, condiments, any high energy food can also be stored in the emergency kit.
  • Vitamins can be added to your supplies to help ensure basic nutritional requirements are met.  
  • Condiments such as salt, sugar, pepper can  also be included.
  • Don’t forget a can opener to open canned food. 
  • Food for pets
  • Supplies in an emergency kit should be regularly reviewed, refreshed and rotated.


  • At least one change of clothing per person should be added to the kit. 
  • While preparing it’s important to consider and pack for the type of element’s you face in your geographical area.
  • Some items to consider adding are hats, gloves, socks, and raingear.
  • Good shoes as well as items like sunglasses can also be packed away.
  • Each person should be supplied a sleeping bag and extra blanket.

First Aid Kit:  

A variety of items to address health need should be included in an emergency kit.

Some items to include are bandages, tweezers, antibiotics, female sanitation supplies, peroxide and alcohol.

Complete first aid kits can be purchased at your local drug store.

Miscellaneous items for Emergency Kit:

  • Cash in case ATM’s are down.
  • Tools to turning off home utilities. 
  • Compass and whistle
  • Prescription medication
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Important documents such as birth certificates, titles, social security cards, bank account records and insurance policies. Documents should be stored in a waterproof container and taken with you if you have to leave your home.

To print an Emergency Supply Kit and prepare your family and business visit www.ewashtenaw.org


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