STEP educates students before disaster strikes

Michigan may not get the kind of killer — literally in many cases — weather events that many parts of the country often experience.

But we get more than our share of blistering winter storms and the occasional flood — ask the folks in the Copper Country about that.

That’s why we think a program offered by the Michigan State Police is absolutely spot on.

The MSP initiative is called the Student Tools for Emergency Planning, or STEP for short. Its principal goal is to offer elementary schools across the state the opportunity to enroll fifth-graders in a national program that teaches students how to prepare for tornadoes, storms, flooding and other emergencies.

“The STEP program equips participating fifth-graders with important and potentially lifesaving knowledge about emergency preparedness,” Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD, said in an MSP press release. “Educating students before disaster strikes means they will be better prepared in an emergency.”

The basic lesson includes one hour of instruction, but instructors have the option to expand the lessons to include eight hours of material. STEP curriculum can be taught by teachers, school officials, first responders or volunteers, the release stated.

Last year, teachers from 135 schools and 8,600 students statewide participated. The lofty, although attainable goal in the coming year, is at least 10,000 fifth-graders.

Interested schools should fill out the Application and Acceptance form at www.michigan.gov/step and submit it via mail, email or fax by Friday. We hope more than a handful of Upper Peninsula schools choose to get involved.

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