Vacation safely this summer

Published 9:28 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

This week’s article comes to you from Hudsonville. We are conducting a Teaching, Educating, and Mentoring (T.E.A.M.) Training for the training consortium of Ottawa County. Deputies from Ottawa, Kent, Clinton, Newaygo, Oscoda, and Calhoun Counties, and Officers from various departments in the area, including Canton, Holland, Norton Shores, Walker, Berrien Springs/Oronoko Twp, and Ontwa Township/Edwardsburg Police Departments are present learning the school/police curriculum.

This curriculum is split into age groups of K-2, 3-5 (30 minute lessons), 6-8, and high school levels (45 minute lessons). The lessons stress safety, and for the older age groups, explain certain laws. All age groups have lessons on gun, fire, and computer safety, bullying, and a homeland security class stressing preparation for emergencies.

This curriculum was created in 1998 by the Michigan State Police. It meets requirements and coincides with the Michigan Model for Health and Safety. In 2000, we did surveys for selected classes and discovered we changed attitudes within the 45 minute classes.

Many of the answers for the pre-test told us that the student didn’t feel comfortable talking to police about certain crimes or getting involved. After the lessons, the answers changed for the positive, telling us they would report crimes, or talk to the police about certain crimes.

This is our 28th TEAM School. We have trained not only Michigan Police, but Troopers, Deputies, and Officers from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Indiana. This program took 4th place in a nation-wide police/school curriculum competition on 2001.

These classes have been used for pre-schools up to college classes. We have used these classes for Senior Centers, neighborhood watch trainings, boy and girl scouts, and church youth groups. They are stand-alone lessons meaning we don’t need to teach lesson one to get to lesson two, to get to lesson three. We can pick a topic and teach that class. They are available throughout the year for your group, not just during the school year.

With the weather warming and schools recessing for the summer, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is encouraging citizens to plan and prepare for emergencies that may happen while on vacation.

“Summer is typically the time of year when individuals and families take extended vacations and road trips,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Whether traveling across the state or nation, you should prepare in advance for all types of emergencies or disasters that could affect your vacation. A little planning could be a lifesaver if a disaster strikes while away from home.”

Before you leave for your trip:

• Know all weather-related emergencies and disasters that are common to your vacation destination. And learn how weather warnings are communicated in that area.

• Know safe shelter locations and evacuation routes at campgrounds, hotels or resorts.

• Pack a travel-size emergency preparedness kit that includes water, snacks, first aid kit, and hand-crank flashlight and radio. Don’t forget to include prescription medications and baby formula, if needed.

• Develop an emergency communications plan for everyone traveling in your group. Make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency and designate an out-of-area emergency contact in case your group is separated.

• Download American Red Cross mobile apps to your smart phone. For more information, go to

During your trip:

• Monitor the weather forecast along travel routes at all times. Delay the trip if severe weather is possible.

• Have someone check on or take care of your pets in case severe weather or a disaster strikes while away.

• Always keep your vehicle’s fuel tank above half full. Power outages or severe weather may prevent you from refueling.

• Have a map and familiarize yourself with the area of your destination. Do not rely on cell phones or computers as your only navigation source.

• Keep a vehicle preparedness kit in your car at all times that includes a hand-crank radio, hand-crank flashlight, cell phone charger, blanket and extra clothes, tire repair kit and pump, flares, jumper cables and a “call police” or “help” sign.

The MSP/EMHSD is a partner in the “Michigan Summer of Safety” initiative, which serves as a reminder to all of us to “take safety along for the ride.” To support this initiative, join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #MiSummerofSafety with any safety-related post from Memorial Day to Labor Day. For more information, go to To learn more about being prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or go to


Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police. Questions or comments can be emailed to