Severe Weather Awareness Week takes place this week with statewide tornado drills on Thursday, April 18.

Lessons learned from Fillmore County floods in recent years and the tornado near Granger and Harmony in May of 2011 is that Minnesota weather hazards can happen anytime and anywhere, said Kevin Beck, Fillmore County emergency management director. The key to maintaining your personal safety and well-being is to be aware of the threats, be prepared, and know how to receive and respond to warnings.

To help citizens achieve these goals, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with the National Weather Service sponsor Severe Weather Awareness Week annually.

Schools and businesses are encouraged to practice emergency plans during the statewide tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday. A second drill at 6:55 p.m. will take place in most counties, including Fillmore County, to allow families and second-shift workers to practice sheltering plans.

Find more lifesaving information at www.severeweather.state.mn.us. Links to the American Red Cross, the Minnesota Safety Council, the National Weather Service and others provide learning materials - many of them downloadable for use in homes, businesses and classrooms. They also offer links for the information in several different non-English languages.

The site also contains information on weather watches and warnings, thunderstorms, hail, lightning, flash floods, tornadoes and heat waves, along with instructions on how to make a survival kit, develop a plan to shelter or escape, and avoid surprises by staying informed of weather conditions. Residents may also sign up to receive email notifications.