State Police encourage preparedness during winter storm

By: Kayla Dimick | C&G Newspapers | Published February 8, 2018

As Michiganders, we typically have our snowboots and shovels ready to go at a moment's notice, but the Michigan State Police are encouraging residents to embrace preparedness ahead of a looming snowstorm. 

The National Weather Service recently issued a winter storm watch and is forecasting up to 8 inches of snow in metro Detroit by the evening hours of Feb. 9. Parts of southern lower Michigan are forecasted to receive up to 10 inches of snow and are under a winter storm warning. 

According to a news release from the MSP, the snow is expected to cause low visibility and hazardous driving conditions, as well as the possibility of impassable roads at times. 

Capt. Chris Kelenske, public information officer for the MSP’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, is warning residents that travelling during and after the storm may prove dangerous over the next few days. 

“If you can stay home, we encourage you to do so,” Kelenske said in a prepared statement. “Minimizing the number of vehicles on the roads will help snow plows clear roads quicker and safer.”

If you must travel during the storm, Kelenske encourages residents to check travel conditions and weather reports before getting in the car. 

Kelenske also said that if travel is necessary, residents are encouraged to keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit inside their vehicle. 

Items in the kit should include warm clothing, gloves, blankets and hats in case motorists become stranded. 

“If you do become stranded or stuck, stay inside your vehicle and wait for help,” Kelenske said. 

Information on road conditions can be found at michigan.gov/roadconditions, and major road closures can be found at michigan.gov/drive. 

Officials from the MSP are also encouraging residents to tune into their local news outlets for information on the storm, rather than calling their local MSP post or 911 for travel conditions. 

According to the MSP, to say safe during a winter storm: 

• Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, wear protective gear, such as hats, mittens, gloves, a scarf and a warm coat.

• Avoid overexertion when shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow. Take breaks frequently.

• Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.

• Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion.

• Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person's body more rapidly and could lead to severe hypothermia.

• Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia.

• Weatherproof doors and windows to trap heat inside your home.

• Check heating units. Poorly operating or damaged heating units can release carbon monoxide gas. Test carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation and battery life.

• Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.

• Watch pets closely and keep them indoors when possible. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.

Residents who need assistance or guidance during the winter storm are encouraged to call 211, Kelenske said. 

For more information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit www.michigan.gov/miready or follow MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS.