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Whitmer Declares State Of Emergency For Michigan With Arctic Temps Expected

Wind chills could approach -50 degrees.

January 28, 2019 - 11:17 pm

LANSING, Mich. (WWJ) -- Following Monday's storm that dumped as many as 13 inches of snow in parts of Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an order declaring a state of emergency in Michigan to help address threats to public health and safety, as temperatures are forecasted to dip below zero, with dangerously low wind chills over the next few days. 

Whitmer signed the order Monday night and will file it with the Secretary of State early Tuesday morning, according to a release from the governor's office.

“Keeping Michiganders safe during this stretch of dangerously cold temperatures is our priority,” Whitmer said in the release. “Such widespread, extreme conditions have not occurred in Michigan for many years and it is imperative that we are proactive with record-low temperatures being predicted by the National Weather Service."

Wind chills are predicted as low as -50 degrees in many places, including Metro Detroit.

Whitmer says the state is actively working with local communities and emergency management partners to ensure they have all the resources they need to respond to the coming cold. Conditions and needs will be continually assessed, and appropriate action will be taken as warranted to protect public health and safety, according to the release.

The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has been activated. Overseen by the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, the center coordinates response and recovery efforts by state agencies and local government. 

The SEOC is staffed by members of state agencies and other partners for decision making and information coordination during disasters or emergencies in the state of Michigan. 

The state is offering several safety tips to stay safe during the cold weather: 

  • Limit time outside. If you need to go outside, wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. 
  • Signs of frostbite include: loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes, numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin. 
  • Signs of hypothermia include: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness. 
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven. 
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. 
  • Check on neighbors. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold. 

The state is also reminding that pets are at risk for cold weather injuries and should be kept indoors.

If travel is absolutely 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.  

To prevent frozen pipes: 

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage. 
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children and pets.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold-water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing. 
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a costlier repair job if pipes freeze and burst. 
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F. 

To thaw frozen pipes: 

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation. 
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe. 
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. 
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.  

As Michigan prepares for the arctic temperatures, much of the Midwest is bracing for the cold as well. Chicago is expecting a high temperature of -12 degrees on Tuesday, making the city one of the coldest places on Earth for the day.

Be sure to check the WWJ school closings page, as many schools across the area are already closing, bracing for the cold.