Spinal Column: Take precautions in Michigan’s icy winter

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

As we enter the final weeks of January, I hope you are enjoying another Michigan winter. As I discussed last month, we are blessed with a multitude of ways to enjoy our state’s natural beauty during our colder months.

A change in temperature, however — such as the one caused by the recent invasion of arctic air, which sent temperatures plunging to single digits, with wind chills of 25° below zero or worse — brings unique dangers.

The first threat posed by extreme cold, of course, is frostbite. Frostbite and hypothermia are caused by too much exposure to cold, wind or moisture. Before heading outside, make sure you:
• Plan to limit your time outdoors if it is very cold, wet or windy;
• Put on several layers of loose clothing;
• Wear mittens instead of gloves, if necessary;
• Cover your head and ears with a warm hat; and
• Wear socks that keep your feet warm and dry.

Fluctuating winter temperatures present yet another danger we might not consider: They can weaken the ice. If you enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling on frozen waters, or simply venturing out on the ice, you must be aware of how changing temperatures can affect ice strength.

New ice created after a cold front moves through should be regarded with caution. Very cold temperatures can quickly weaken ice and cause large cracks within hours. In addition, when temperatures vary widely, ice may thaw during the day and refreeze at night, resulting in weakened, unsafe ice.

For those who do enjoy exploring the ice, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers several ice safety tips. Among other recommendations, their list includes the following:
• Ice conditions vary from lake to lake. Find a good local source — a bait shop or fishing guide — that is knowledgeable about ice conditions on the lake you want to discover;
• Tell a responsible adult where you are going and what time to expect you back. Relaying your plan could help save your life if something does happen to you on the ice;
• Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice;
• If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom;
• A minimum of four inches of clear ice is required to support an average person’s weight on the ice, but since ice seldom forms at a uniform rate it is important to check ice thickness with a spud and ruler every few steps;
• The DNR does not recommend taking a car or truck out onto the ice at any time;
• Wear a life jacket and brightly colored clothing; and
• Take a cell phone for emergency use.

The DNR also recommends that if you fall through the ice, try to remain calm, and don’t remove winter clothing — it can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. Next, turn in the water toward the direction you came from.

If you have ice picks, dig the points of the picks into the ice and pull yourself onto the surface while vigorously kicking your feet and sliding forward on the ice. Next, to distribute your weight and help avoid breaking through again, roll away from the area of weak ice.

Finally, get to shelter, put on dry clothing and warm yourself, and drink non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks. Call 911 and seek medical attention if you feel disoriented, have uncontrollable shivering, or have any other ill effects that may be symptoms of hypothermia.

A full list of ice safety tips can be found on the DNR’s website at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Enter “ice safety tips” in the search bar.

Rich adventures await us in Michigan’s icy winter — but only if we take the proper precautions.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Oakland Press: Take precautions in Michigan’s icy winter

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

As we enter the final weeks of January, I hope you are enjoying another Michigan winter. As I discussed last month, we are blessed with a multitude of ways to enjoy our state’s natural beauty during our colder months.

A change in temperature, however — such as the one caused by the recent invasion of arctic air, which sent temperatures plunging to single digits, with wind chills of 25° below zero or worse — brings unique dangers.

The first threat posed by extreme cold, of course, is frostbite. Frostbite and hypothermia are caused by too much exposure to cold, wind or moisture. Before heading outside, make sure you:
• Plan to limit your time outdoors if it is very cold, wet or windy;
• Put on several layers of loose clothing;
• Wear mittens instead of gloves, if necessary;
• Cover your head and ears with a warm hat; and
• Wear socks that keep your feet warm and dry.

Fluctuating winter temperatures present yet another danger we might not consider: They can weaken the ice. If you enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling on frozen waters, or simply venturing out on the ice, you must be aware of how changing temperatures can affect ice strength.

New ice created after a cold front moves through should be regarded with caution. Very cold temperatures can quickly weaken ice and cause large cracks within hours. In addition, when temperatures vary widely, ice may thaw during the day and refreeze at night, resulting in weakened, unsafe ice.

For those who do enjoy exploring the ice, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers several ice safety tips. Among other recommendations, their list includes the following:
• Ice conditions vary from lake to lake. Find a good local source — a bait shop or fishing guide — that is knowledgeable about ice conditions on the lake you want to discover;
• Tell a responsible adult where you are going and what time to expect you back. Relaying your plan could help save your life if something does happen to you on the ice;
• Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice;
• If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom;
• A minimum of four inches of clear ice is required to support an average person’s weight on the ice, but since ice seldom forms at a uniform rate it is important to check ice thickness with a spud and ruler every few steps;
• The DNR does not recommend taking a car or truck out onto the ice at any time;
• Wear a life jacket and brightly colored clothing; and
• Take a cell phone for emergency use.

The DNR also recommends that if you fall through the ice, try to remain calm, and don’t remove winter clothing — it can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. Next, turn in the water toward the direction you came from.

If you have ice picks, dig the points of the picks into the ice and pull yourself onto the surface while vigorously kicking your feet and sliding forward on the ice. Next, to distribute your weight and help avoid breaking through again, roll away from the area of weak ice.

Finally, get to shelter, put on dry clothing and warm yourself, and drink non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks. Call 911 and seek medical attention if you feel disoriented, have uncontrollable shivering, or have any other ill effects that may be symptoms of hypothermia.

A full list of ice safety tips can be found on the DNR’s website at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Enter “ice safety tips” in the search bar.

Rich adventures await us in Michigan’s icy winter — but only if we take the proper precautions.

This column appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Kowall: We have accomplished much, but work remains

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Tuesday attended Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2018 State of the State address, which laid out the governor’s plan for continuing Michigan’s economic recovery.

Kowall, R-White Lake, offered the following statement after the address:

“During his final State of the State address tonight, the governor recounted some of the major accomplishments of the past seven years while discussing what still needs to be done as we move Michigan forward.

“I was particularly pleased the governor highlighted the importance of two key issues I was honored to take the lead on and that remain vital to our state’s success.

“First, the governor mentioned the autonomous vehicle bills and their importance to the industry and to Michigan. This legislation, signed into law at the end of 2016, is going to help the people of Michigan by providing safer transportation, better mobility and a stronger economy.

“The law established the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, providing researchers and developers with all they need to build the transportation future here in Michigan. Michigan is at the cutting edge of automotive innovation and manufacturing, and our emphasis on autonomous vehicle development will help ensure we remain the world leader in the auto industry.

“The governor also discussed the critical need for public-private partnerships as we address the state’s infrastructure needs over the next 30 to 50 years. As we work to develop and maintain our transportation, water, energy and communications systems — and a host of others — long-term contractual relationships between the public and the private sectors will be essential.

“Finally, the governor talked about the success of our economy. There is much to talk about: Since the end of 2010, Michigan has created 540,000 private-sector jobs. We have had eight years of unemployment reduction and six consecutive years of population growth. Our rainy day fund went from a mere $2 million to a whopping $889 million.

“There is much to be thankful for, and there is much work that remains to be done. I am eager to continue Michigan’s progress in 2018.”

Note: Audio remarks from Kowall will be available for broadcast from this website. Select Audio under the Media Center tab, above.

Sen. Kowall welcomes guest to Capitol for State of the State

LANSING, Mich. — State Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, stands in the Senate chamber with Dr. Loren Hamel, CEO of Lakeland Health and chairman of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (left). Hamel joined Kowall for Gov. Rick Snyder’s final State of the State address Tuesday night.

Note: Click the image for a print-quality version. This and other Kowall photos are also available by selecting Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Sen. Mike Kowall available for comments following 2018 State of the State address

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall will be available for comments following the governor’s 2018 State of the State address on Tuesday.

Who:
Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake.

What:
Reaction and comments following the governor’s State of the State address.

When:
After the address, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Where:
By phone or in:
House Appropriations Room
Third floor
State Capitol
Lansing

Brief:
Kowall will be available following the State of the State address for comments on state issues mentioned by the governor in the address.

He also will be available by phone. Please call Kowall’s office at 1-517-373-1758 to schedule an interview time with the senator.

Audio remarks will be available for broadcast from the senator’s website at www.SenatorMikeKowall.com/audio.

Oakland Press: Wintertime is time to explore Michigan’s Great Outdoors

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Winter is here, and for adventurers young and old, that means it’s time to get out and explore Michigan’s Great Outdoors!

Michigan families this winter can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing and more. With more than 3,000 miles of cross country ski trails, some of the best downhill skiing in the Midwest and 6,400 miles of snowmobile trails, Michigan offers fantastic cold weather recreation opportunities.

Michigan State Parks
A good place to start is our state parks. Many residents only think of visiting our parks during warmer weather, but the parks are wonderful places to explore in the winter as well.

Most state parks and recreation areas are open to winter hiking, and many open up their trails for cross country skiers. Snowshoers can walk next to the groomed trails or use single-track hiking trails. The heartier among us can even enjoy winter camping at select parks.

Dozens of parks also provide a designated snowmobile area. Four inches of snow or more is required to operate a snowmobile within a state park, and any trail riding must take place on trails designated for such use.

To find the perfect park for your favorite cold weather activity, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on Camping & Recreation on the left sidebar. Remember: A state recreation passport is needed for park entry; campsite fees are extra.

Skiing and Snowboarding
Michigan ranks second in the nation for the total number of skiing and snowboarding areas across the state. With a combined total of 51 ski areas, boasting over 260 lifts and nearly 1,000 runs, there’s lots of room for beginner and intermediate skiers. If you’re new to skiing and snowboarding, many ski areas offer lessons and instruction.

The state is also home to three world-renowned ski jumps that have held dozens of ski jump records throughout the years. The jumps are located in Negaunee, Iron Mountain and Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula.

Snowmobiling
Michigan’s natural beauty, combined with a network of 6,400 miles of groomed, interconnected trails, make it a leading snowmobile destination. Michigan’s interconnected snowmobile trail network is one of the best in the country. While snowmobilers may have favorite trails to ride, there are countless new trails to explore.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides snowmobile maps in a variety of formats for the state’s designated snowmobile trails. Find information on trail maps and permits, regulations, registration and more at www.michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

Winter Fishing
A popular sport you may not have tried is ice fishing. Michigan anglers can enjoy great fishing opportunities over the next few months. Popular winter species include bluegill, pike, smelt, walleye and yellow perch.

Like any outdoor activity during the colder months, winter fishing has its own set of safety rules. Use the buddy system and wear a life jacket. When fishing on the ice, the DNR urges anglers to test ice thickness and quality with a spud and avoid ice around docks and pilings and inlets or outlets.

Michigan offers a bounty of natural beauty. No matter what your preferred activity, you can find it here.

So let’s all get outside and enjoy our Michigan winter!

This column appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.