Get prepared for winter with these safety tips

Published 9:31 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

Last week, Governor Rick Snyder announced that this week — Nov. 1-7 — is “Winter Hazards Awareness Week.”

So, with winter weather rapidly approaching, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) are encouraging Michiganders to make winter emergency preparedness a priority.

“Some Michigan citizens have already experienced their first snow of the season, reminding us that winter is coming,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “If you haven’t done so already, don’t wait to take a few extra steps to ensure you and your family is ready for winter.”

Severe winter weather poses health and safety concerns with extremely cold temperatures, freezing pipes, potential propane shortages and power outages. Michiganders should consider the following actions to be prepared for the upcoming winter months.

To prepare your home for winter:

• Weatherproof your home by installing weather-stripping and caulking and insulating walls, doors and windows.

• Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so pipes are less likely to freeze.

• Lock in a propane rate now and have a backup heating plan, such as a generator, wood stove or fireplace.

• Have gas or oil furnaces inspected by a qualified professional and change the air filter.

• Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected. Contact your local fire department for a referral or look for a local inspector online.

• Install battery-operated carbon monoxide (CO) detectors near every sleeping area. CO poisoning is most prevalent when furnaces are turned on to fight cold winter temperatures, but commonly occurs after winter storms and accompanying power outages, when people tend to rely on portable generators for electricity.

• Clean gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Roof ice dams can cause water to 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 an emergency preparedness kit stored safely in your house that includes: water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, extra batteries, a battery or hand-crank powered radio, emergency lighting or flashlights, extra blankets and warm clothing.

To prepare your vehicle for winter:

• Have your radiator system serviced before winter and make sure to replace windshield wipers and wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture that will not freeze.

• Replace any worn tires and check air pressure regularly.

• Have your brakes, brake fluid, oil, car battery, heater and exhaust checked to make sure everything is running efficiently.

• Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle stocked with batteries, battery powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, windshield scraper, jumper cables, mobile phone charger, shovel, blankets, first aid kit, non-perishable food and bottled water in the event you get stranded or stuck.

For more tips, go to or follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS. The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is responsible for coordinating state and federal resources to assist local government in response and relief activities in the event of an emergency or disaster, as well as coordinating homeland security initiatives and various federal grants.


Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police Any questions or comments can be emailed to, or you can call (269) 683-4411.