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State police encourage winter preparedness

LANSING, MICH. — With winter weather rapidly approaching, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared Nov. 5-11 is Winter Hazards Awareness Week, and the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division is encouraging Michiganders to make winter emergency preparedness a priority.

“Much of the state has already had its first taste of winter this year,” said Capt. Kevin Sweeney, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “We encourage everyone to take steps to ensure you and your family are ready for the winter season ahead.”

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, 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 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.

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