With the arrival of winter weather, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is encouraging Michiganders to make winter emergency preparedness a priority.
Severe winter weather poses health and safety concerns with extremely cold temperatures, freezing pipes, potential propane shortages and power outages. With a little planning and preparing, Michiganders can be ready before the next winter incident occurs. A prepared Michigan is a resilient Michigan.
What should I do?
Emergency preparedness is the starting point for all Michiganders. Regardless of the potential threat or hazard, everyone must be prepared for any emergency by making a plan and creating an emergency preparedness kit. An emergency or disaster can happen at any time, to anyone. By planning ahead and creating a kit, Michiganders will be better prepared for tomorrow.
The MSP/EMHSD has gathered materials and facts provided by the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
This information is designed to give an overview about what to do before, during and after a winter hazard emergency or disaster. If there is a life-threating situation, immediately call 9-1-1. For information about human services available during an emergency or disaster, call 2-1-1.
Preparing your home:
Create an emergency winter preparedness kit for you home that includes the following items:
Water, at least three gallons of water per person
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food per person
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
A complete change of clothing and footwear for each person
Important family documents
Extra clothes and blankets
Keep on hand items for your pets. Animals feel the effects of wind chill. Be sure to have suitable shelter with food and water.
Winterize your home by weather-stripping and insulating walls, attics and basements. It will not only allow your house to maintain heat, but extends the life of your fuel supply, which can save money on heating costs.
Insulating pipes that run through you walls and attic can help prevent them from bursting during the winter season.
Know where the water valves are located in your home in case you have to shut them off to prevent pipes from bursting.
Clean gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Roof ice dams can cause water build-up leading to interior damage.
Clear storm drains along the curb to enable water to drain. If plugged, water has the potential to go into low-lying areas and flood basements.
Have a backup heating source. A backup heating source will prevent pipes from freezing and keep your home warm in the event of an outage. Make sure that gas generators or fuel-based heating systems are vented outside to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Install battery-operated CO detectors near every sleeping area. CO poisoning is most prevalent when furnaces are turned on to fight cold winter temperatures or when people rely on portable generators for electricity during outages.
Preparing your vehicle:
Winterize your vehicle by late fall. This includes having the proper mix of antifreeze and water in the cooling system, topping off windshield washing solution and replacing worn windshield wipers.
Check your tires to make sure you have an adequate amount of tread for the winter. Adequate tire tread will improve the safety of your vehicle on the road. Make sure to check tire pressure regularly throughout the winter season.
It’s good practice to have your radiator system, engine and heating system checked every fall before winter comes. Also check brakes, brake fluid, oil and car battery as well.
Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times during the winter to avoid fuel lines freezing up and getting ice buildup in your tank.
Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle stocked in the event you get stranded or stuck. Your car should always be equipped with a container of emergency supplies. Keep the following items in your kit:
Small battery powered or hand-crank radio
Cellular phone and charger
Extra blankets and clothes
Non-perishable food and bottled water
First aid kit
Tire repair kit and pump
“Call Police” or other “Help” sign
Avoid overexertion when shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. Sweating can lead to chill, hypothermia, and abnormally low body temperatures. Cold weather puts extra strain on the heart, so elderly with heart conditions should be especially cautious when out in the cold.
Be careful when walking on snowy or icy sidewalks.
Do your best to keep clothes dry. Change wet socks and clothing quickly to prevent loss of body heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight warm clothing in layers, with a waterproof outer layer. Wear a wool hat and mittens.
Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body and can lead to severe hypothermia.