Weather conditions can change quickly in Michigan in the winter. For your saftey, you must be prepared for any drastic change in the weather.
On your way to work, home or shopping your car slides on an icy patch and slips into a ditch. You are stuck. The wind is blowing at 20 mph and the temperature is 10 degrees (both very typical in Michigan winters). Now you are stranded and have to wait for help in your car. The wind chill is -24 degrees Fahrenheit. Frostbite and hypothermia can begin to occur in a very short time.
PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY IN YOUR CAR
First, make sure your car is winterized and running properly so you will not be stranded in bad weather. Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the fuel lines and to avoid being stranded.
Carry a winter survival kit in the car.
If you are stranded in your car:
Stay in your car or truck. It is easy to become disoriented in blowing snow and cold.
Run the motor for about ten minutes every hour for heat. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by opening the window a little for fresh air and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
Make yourself visible to rescuers. Turn on the dome light when running the engine. Ties a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door. After the snow has stopped falling raise the hood indicating trouble.
Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
If you are stranded outside during a storm:
Try to stay dry.
Cover all exposed parts of the body.
If there is no shelter available:
Prepare a lean-to, wind-break or snow cave for protection from the wind
Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
Do not eat snow. It will lower you body temperature. Melt it first.
PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR A WINTER STORM EMERGENCY
During a winter storm, loss of heat, electricity and phone service are possible.
Make sure to have emergency supplies on hand for such an emergency.
If you are home during a winter storm stay inside.
If you lose your heat and you are using an alternative heat source use fire safeguards and properly ventilate your home.
If you lose heat, Close off unneeded rooms. Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
Cover the windows at night.
Remember to eat high energy foods and to drink fluids to prevent dehydration. The body needs energy to produce heat.
Wear loose fitting, light weight, warm clothing. Dress in layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.
UNDERSTANDING WINTER WEATHER
First, and most important, keep posted on weather conditions. Your local radio and television stations and weather service radio will keep you informed on the forecasts. A clear understanding of terms used by the National Weather Service will enable you to enjoy Michigan weather safely.
Describes winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.
Is wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by wind.
Is issued when three to six inches are expected in a 12 hour period.
Describes light snow falling for a short duration. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
Indicates snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best know in the Great Lakes region.
Describes rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorist.
Is rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars and roads, forminga coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulation of ice can cause a significant hazard.
Wind chill advisory
May be issued when strong winds increase the danger of exposure to cold air.
Winter storm watch
Indicates that severe winter weather conditions may affect your area.
Winter storm warning
Indicates that severe winter conditions are imminent and you should take immediate precautions.
Winter weather advisory
Means that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, these situations should not become life threatening. The greatest hazard is often to motorist.