Bitter temps should prompt caution in outdoor activities

With bitter cold temperatures inhibiting outdoor activities for the past couple of days and more cold weather predicted for the next several days, Michigan State Police are advising residents exercise care and caution when outside.

“Extremely cold temperatures can be hazardous and potentially life-threatening,” Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, said in a press release distributed to media. “We are asking that Michiganders monitor their local weather reports and follow the appropriate steps to stay safe during this cold spell.”

Windchill temperatures have dipped in to the minus double digits making exposure dangerous.

As a result, MSP recommends the following measures be taken to stay safe during bitterly cold weather:

• Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, wear protective gear, such as hats, mittens, gloves, scarf and a warm coat.

• Avoid overexertion when shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. Take breaks frequently.

• Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.

• Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion.

• Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body more rapidly and could lead to severe hypothermia.

• Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia.

• Weatherproof doors and windows to trap heat inside your home.

• Check heating units. Poorly operating or damaged heating units can release carbon monoxide gas.

• Test carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation and battery life.

• Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.

• Watch pets closely and keep them indoors. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.

• If travel is necessary, keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Put warm clothing, such as gloves, blankets and hats, and a cell phone charger in your kit.

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.