Michigan to see dangerously cold temperatures - How to stay safe

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:26 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:22 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Old Man Winter will come after Michigan with a vengeance Thursday night and Friday morning.

Wind chill advisories have been issued for all of Mid-Michigan as temperatures plummet. With wind chills as low as 15 below zero, it will not be safe to be outside.

Related: ‘Code Blue’ - Lansing initiates Cold Weather Emergency Plan

Keeping yourself safe

Summer Clay is a physician assistant at Sparrow Hospital. She said when weather gets into temperatures like this, limiting your time outside is the easiest thing to do. If you have to go outside, you need to dress accordingly.

Wear the right-sized clothing, a proper hat and gloves, and wear layers to conserve heat. Clay said some parts of the body will need more layers than others.

“Our fingers, our toes, our nose, our ears - those all are very prone to getting frostbite, so we’ll want to dress in extra layers on those,” Clay said.

She said some people are more prone to conditions like frostbite and hypothermia, like the elderly, children under the age of five or people with a pre-existing heart condition.

Veterinarians said dogs should not be outside longer than 10 minutes, unless your breed is meant for the cold. When your pet comes inside, check their paws for antifreeze or salt, which can be toxic.

Before you get into your car, check underneath to make sure a cat didn’t crawl under it for warmth.

Keeping your car safe

Cars can’t wear scarves, so how do we protect them from the cold? Whether it’s frozen roads, potholes or deflated tires, sometimes our cars can take a beating in the cold weather.

Joe Laurenco, the assistant manager at Tuffy Tire and Auto Service in Lansing, said the most important thing is to check your battery. Drivers should be on top of battery maintenance because it drains a lot faster in cold weather.

He said one of the worst situations a driver can get themselves into is where they’re stranded in freezing temperatures.

Laurenco said drivers should not wait until the last minute to get their tires changed. Traction is important - especially when navigating icy roads. He said that’s the biggest mistake he sees people make during the winter.

If a tire isn’t properly filled, it’s easier for a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

“I believe that you lose 60% traction when your tires are down to two-thirds,” Laurenco said.

In case of an emergency where you’re stranded in the cold, make sure to keep the proper supplies in your vehicle - like a blanket, first aid kit and other items to help navigate emergency situations.

Keeping your home warm (and safe)

It’s important for Michiganders to have some refreshers about how to keep their home warm and how to do it safely.

Tom Snyder, with Applegate Heating and Cooling, said a reoccurring issue is blocked vents. He said most vents work the same way, so if the furnace doesn’t seem to be working, the vent is probably blocked by snow.

The vents release cool air, so if they’re blocked, there is nowhere for that air to go and it will shut your furnace down.

Snyder stresses the importance of proper maintenance. The way heat comes out is through a heat exchanger, which he said requires up-to-date maintenance.

“There’s always deaths because of bad heat exchangers,” Snyder said. “So routine maintenance throughout the year, should be checked every year on an older furnace and it has to be replaced if there is a bad heat exchanger, otherwise there’s a hazard of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

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