Getting the home, vehicles ready for winter

The recent dustings of snow — and the wet stuff that fell overnight — point up that it’s time to think about getting the home and vehicle in shape to handle winter conditions, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division advises.

“Part of Michigan has seen snow already,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Now is the time to make sure you are prepared. Taking a few extra steps will ensure that you and your family are ready before winter weather fully arrives.”

Most in the Upper Peninsula likely know the routine. But a reminder of how to avoid problems never hurts.

To prepare your home for winter:

— Weatherproof by installing weather stripping and caulking and insulating walls, doors and windows;

— Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls, so pipes are less likely to freeze;

— Lock in a propane rate now and have a backup heating plan, such as a generator, wood stove or fireplace;

— Have gas or oil furnaces inspected by a qualified professional and change the air filter every two to four months;

— Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected. Contact your local fire department for a referral or look for a local inspector online;

— Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas. CO poisoning is more common in the winter months, when furnaces are turned on and portable generators are often used for electricity during power outages;

— Clean gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Roof ice dams can cause water to build up, leading to interior damage;

— Clear storm drains along the curb to enable water to drain. If plugged, water has the potential to go into low-lying areas and flood basements;

— Have an emergency preparedness kit stored safely in your house that includes: water, nonperishable food, a first aid kit, extra batteries, a battery or hand-crank powered radio, emergency lighting or flashlights, extra blankets and warm clothing.

To prepare your vehicle for winter:

— Have the radiator system serviced;

— Replace windshield wipers and refill wiper fluid;

— Replace any worn tires and check air pressure regularly;

— Have brakes, brake fluid, oil, car battery, heater and exhaust checked to make sure everything is running efficiently;

— Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle, stocked with batteries, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, windshield scraper, jumper cables, mobile phone charger, shovel, blankets, first aid kit, non-perishable food and bottled water in the event you get stranded or stuck.

In support of statewide winter preparedness efforts, Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed Nov. 5-11 as Winter Hazards Awareness Week. But we in the U.P. have to adjust earlier than in Lansing.

For more tips, go to or follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS.