Winter hazards just around the corner

It doesn’t take record-breaking low temperatures or mountains of snowfall to make winter in Michigan dangerous. Abrupt changes to weather that come with the usual parade of winter storms are enough to turn enjoyment of the season into tragedy. Melting snow and excessive rain may cause flooding, and ice may cause power outages, roofs to collapse, automobile crashes, and personal injury.

To prepare for the winter weather season, Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed Nov. 3-9, 2013 as, “Winter Hazards Awareness Week,” and encourages all Michiganians to prepare their families, homes and properties now for future severe weather storms.

“Now is the time to prepare for the unexpected,” said Rich Pollman, chair of the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness. “There is no need to be caught by surprise no matter how the winter tries to sneak up on us.”

The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness recommends these actions for severe winter weather preparedness:

– Have a disaster preparedness plan. Every home, school and business should have a written plan for every possible weather or home emergency. Everyone should know what to do during snow or ice storms, power outages, floods, fires, or tornadoes.

– Invest in a NOAA Weather Radio. Again, every home, school and business should have a battery-backup weather radio. Weather radios are programmed to automatically sound and alert during weather watches and warnings. Attachments such as vibrating pager devices and bed-shakers are available at electronics stores for the hearing impaired.

– Be safe when participating in outdoor activities. Dress in layers, and do not overexert yourself while shoveling snow or working outside. Those susceptible to heart problems should be particularly mindful about the added risks during strenuous activity in very cold weather. Be cautious of frostbite, hypothermia and other cold-related injuries.

– Prepare disaster kits for the home and vehicle. Winter emergency kits should include warm clothing, blankets, flashlights, batteries, coats, hats, gloves, a battery-operated radio, first aid kit, and enough non-perishable food and water to sustain each family member for at least 72 hours. Vehicles should maintain at least a half tank of gasoline.