Winter seemed to come early this year, with very little breathing room between the colorful leaves of fall and the snowfall that covered mid-Michigan in early November.
It’s not too late to take steps to prepare for – and deal with – the winter season. Meridian Township offered several safety tips for making the winter months less troublesome.
Driving and Car Safety
Before we dive into Meridian Township’s recommendations, let’s talk about removing snow from your vehicle. Michigan law essentially requires drivers to clear snow from their entire car or truck.
First, drivers may not operate their vehicles if an object impairs their vision, according to autonofault.com. That means you might get pulled over if you don’t remove all snow from front, rear and side windows, as well as the side-view mirrors. That same total snow removal policy applies to your headlights and taillights, according to the website.
Even if your windows and lights and mirrors are all free of snow, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear so far as state law is concerned. You also have to push snow off the top of the car, the hood, the rear of the vehicle and the windward side if snow has accumulated. Specifically, under MCL 257.677a(2)-(4), it is illegal for snow, ice or slush to fall into either the roadway or the shoulder in such a way that a motorist’s vision is impaired. That’s other motorists on the road, not the driver of the snow-covered car.
OK, that’s out of the way. Now back to the Meridian Township advice.
“Although winter comes as no surprise, it’s important that we are prepared for the hazards of winter,” said Meridian Township Fire Chief, Mike Hamel. “Being prepared means being safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.”
When driving, the township recommends drivers:
- Accelerate slowly for the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.
- Give yourself time to brake; following distance of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds to provide safer distance.
- Adjust driving speed according to the weather and road conditions.
- Leave additional space when driving between vehicles.
- Check the batteries and fluids of your car regularly.
- Wash your vehicle regularly. Road salt can do damage.
To protect your home during the colder temperatures, the township recommended:
- Keep the indoor temperatures above 68 degrees to prevent bursting pipes.
- Don’t block home heating vents with furniture or rugs.
- During colder temperatures, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Prepare the outside of your home by cleaning out gutters, disconnecting and draining hoses and shutting off outside water valves.
When it comes to snow removal other than your car, Hamel noted property owners are responsible for snow removal on 5-foot-wide sidewalks adjoining the property.
He also recommended carefully cleaning snow away from furnace vents and remove snow from all utility meters attached to your house.
Hamel said people should also remove snow and ice from fire hydrants and clear snow within a 3-foot perimeter.
And remember: Dress in layers to prevent overheating while shoveling.
For more winter safety tips, visit the Meridian Township website atmeridian.mi.us.