The Weather Channel recommends driving slowly and with extreme caution on snowy and icy roads:
- Decrease speed and leave plenty of room to stop. Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep your lights and windshield clean.
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
- Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
- Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
Go to The Weather Channel website for more tips about what to do if your vehicle's tires skid or if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also provides safety tips regarding iced-over lakes:
- Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water in a single file.
- Never venture onto the ice alone or without telling your plans to a responsible adult.
- Any time you are on the ice and have not personally checked the ice thickness consider yourself in harm's way. Check the thickness of the ice with an ice spud before venturing onto the ice.
- Never Drive a Car or Truck on the ice.
- Avoid standing or walking in areas with a group of people.
- Always wear a life jacket when on the frozen surface of a lake or river.
- Carry a pair of ice picks. These are designed for a self rescue and are two handles with a nail device in one end attached to each other by a length of rope.
- Look for large cracks or depressions in the ice.
- Learn and practice rescue techniques by using ropes, boats, ladders, etc.
- Ice does not form with uniform thickness on any body of water. Underwater springs or currents can wear thin spots on any body of water.
- Clear ice is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, is very porous and very weak. Ice covered by snow should always be presumed unsafe.
- Four inches of ice will generally hold an average-sized person on foot. Snowmobiles and ORVs need at least eight inches of solid, consistent ice.
Consumers Energy has these tips to offer in the event of a major weather event:
- Keep flashlights and a portable radio handy. Make sure you have fresh batteries. Lanterns and battery-operated lights are a safe alternative to candles.
- Keep a supply of canned food and, if you have an infant, baby formula. Make sure you have a manual can opener.
- Keep a complete first-aid kit and a sufficient supply of prescription medications on hand at all times.
- Keep a cellphone or other phone that works without electricity. Keep a list of emergency numbers near your phone.
- Become familiar with where your electric circuit box is located and know how to turn your power on and off.
- If you have electrically powered life-support equipment, before a power outage occurs, ask your physician, nurse or equipment supplier about emergency backup.
- If you have a generator, you must have a transfer switch installed in your fuse box by a licensed electrician, for the safety and protection of our line workers.
During a Storm
- Stay clear of downed and sagging wires. Immediately report downed wires to Consumers Energy at 800.477.5050 or the local law enforcement agency.
- Don't attempt to repair or remove limbs from lines.
- Keep one light "on" so you'll know when your electricity has been restored.
- If you are leaving the house, turn the main breaker off. This will reduce the chance of appliance damage and safety problems if power is restored while you're away.
- Before removing damaged trees or branches, check closely to make sure no lines are touching them.
- Draw blinds and shades over your windows. That will prevent glass from shattering into your home if the window should break due to blown objects or large hail.
What To Do After The Storm Passes
- Continue listening to local radio or television stations or monitoring the local newspaper for updated information and instructions.
- Avoid traveling to or through storm-damaged areas if possible.
- Survey your property for any visible damage and possible lingering effects of the storm, such as hanging branches or sagging lines.
- Report potential hazards and keep others -- especially children -- away from fallen trees and power lines.
- Offer to help neighbors who may need special assistance: infants, the elderly or people with disabilities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency
encourages adding the following supplies on hand in the event of an emergency:
- Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
- Sand to improve traction.
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
FEMA also recommends creating a family communication plan to contact with your loved ones in case you are not together in the event of a storm.
In case you have to go out into the cold, FEMA reminds citizens to watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia, and to change out of wet clothes, which don't insulate the body, quickly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a safety guide for extreme cold (pdf).
Remember to call 911 only in the event of an emergency. For non-emergencies, contact your local law enforcement.