Sheriff’s office urges residents to use caution

February 13, 2015

OCSO cruiserHART — The Oceana County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging Oceana citizens and visitors to be extra cautious when going out in the extreme cold during this weekend’s storm, Undersheriff Tim Priese said Friday afternoon, Feb. 13.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Oceana County and other lakeshore counties that went into effect at 3 p.m. Friday and continues until Saturday at 10 p.m. Extremely cold conditions are expected to continue for the next several days.

“These arctic blasts can create hazardous situations at home and on the road,” Priese said in an emailed statement Friday. “We are encouraging everyone to monitor local weather reports and follow the appropriate steps to stay safe during these extremely cold and potentially life-threatening temperatures.

“The National Weather Service is forecasting statewide wind chills to periodically dip down to 20 degrees below zero or lower through at least Sunday, Feb. 15. The coldest wind chills are expected Saturday night and into Sunday morning and could fall to 30 degrees below zero or colder. Exposure to these temperatures could potentially cause frostbite and hypothermia, as well as create hazardous driving conditions.”

Make sure that if you do have to travel, to clear all snow from your vehicle before heading out and make sure your headlights on. Also, keep a safe distance behind other vehicles.

The undersheriff offers the following tips to stay safe during cold weather:

  • Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, wear protective gear — such as hats, mittens and gloves — in addition to a warm coat. Always protect your lungs with a scarf.

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

  • Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face. A wind chill of 20 degrees below zero can cause frostbite in just 30 minutes.

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

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

  • Weather-proof 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 when possible. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.

  • Check and restock your emergency preparedness kit. If you don’t have a kit, make one.

  • Minimize travel. 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 — in your kit in case you become stranded.

“Michigan weather is unpredictable any time of year, but especially during the winter months,” Priese said. “If you are stranded, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.”