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Archive | January, 2019

Celebrating statehood: Michigan’s state symbols


By John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

“The whisper of the forest tree, the thunder of the inland sea; unite in one grand symphony of Michigan, my Michigan.” – Giles Kavanagh

The Mackinac Bridge, connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, is one of Michigan’s signature features.

Just like in the 1963 Elvis Presley movie of the same title, it happened at the world’s fair. But it wasn’t at Seattle’s Century 21 Exposition, where the hip-shakin’ King of Rock-n-Roll not only sang and grooved in the movie, but also starred as a pilot who flew a crop-dusting plane. It was instead in Chicago, in 1893.

That’s when and where a special “National Garland of Flowers,” crafted from flowers representing each of the then 44 U.S. states, was presented at the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition to more than 27 million attendees.

This would foreshadow the inspiration of states, including Michigan, to eventually adopt representative symbols ranging from fish to fowl, cars to canines.

Today, the lists of these state symbols can be long, depending on the state, and often contain some interesting, unique and unexpected inclusions. 

For example, Maryland has an official sport, and it is jousting. The state vehicle of Texas is the chuck wagon. Just under half of our states share a state dance, and that dance is the square dance.

Even with more conventional categories, there are unexpected entries. Maine’s state “flower” is the white pine cone.

In 1996, Utah designated the beehive cluster as its official state star cluster. Wisconsin has an official state dog—the American water spaniel—while Maryland adopted the tabby as its official state cat.

But that isn’t all Massachusetts has. The Bay State is also home to a state muffin (corn), state inventor (Ben Franklin), state donut (Boston cream) and a state beverage (cranberry juice).

In fact, Massachusetts has 55 official state symbols.

Here in Michigan, like many other states, we of course have our state flag, capital, seal and coat of arms.

Most residents know our state nickname is the “Great Lakes State.” Another Michigan nickname is “The Wolverine State,” even though only one wolverine was ever known to have lived in the wild in the state. There are several theories about the moniker’s origin, but it may stem from the state’s history as a center for trade in the early trapping industry, when wolverine pelts from the north and west came through Michigan.

Many know our state motto is Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice, which means, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

The origin of Michigan’s name comes from the Ojibwa word “meicigama,” meaning “great water.” 

Beyond these, Michigan has nearly a dozen state symbols.

Sixty years after Michigan was admitted to the Union as the 26th state, and four years after the Chicago world’s fair, Michigan designated the first of these symbol—the apple blossom—as its state flower.

Schoolchildren are among the most familiar with state symbols because in many cases they have been the source of their nomination, subsequently adopted by state legislatures.

Elementary and middle school students, as well as most adults, know the robin redbreast (American robin) is the state bird (1931); the state tree is the eastern white pine (1955) and that the Petoskey stone, a fossilized coral, is Michigan’s state stone (1965).

The Michigan Legislature adopted “the trout” as the state fish (1965) before clarifying that designation as the brook trout in 1988. The state song, “My Michigan,” written by Giles Kavanagh and H. O’Reilly Clint, was adopted in 1936.

In 1973, the Isle Royale greenstone was selected as Michigan’s state gem.

From this point on, it can get more challenging for most Michiganders to continue to list our state symbols. Many of the remaining entries have been designated relatively recently.

In 1990, the Kalkaska soil series was identified as Michigan’s state soil. 

In 1995, Niles fifth-grade students mounted a successful effort to get the painted turtle named the state reptile. A group of fourth-graders worked to get the white-tailed deer selected as the state’s game animal in 1997.

In 1998, the dwarf lake iris was selected as Michigan’s state wildflower.

Schoolchildren also helped college geology professor David P. Thomas Sr. get the mastodon established as Michigan’s state fossil in 2002.

Michigan celebrates its 182nd Statehood Day birthday on Saturday. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting its own statehood birthday party at its Michigan History Museum in Lansing.

Our state’s birth story is somewhat unusual, as the path to statehood wasn’t quite as easy for Michigan as for most other states. The first Michigan Constitution was written in 1835, nearly two years before we officially became a state.

The “Toledo War” – a dispute over whether the city of Toledo was actually in Michigan or Ohio – delayed the process because the federal government wouldn’t grant Michigan statehood until the disagreement was resolved. Find out more.

Congress ultimately gave Toledo to Ohio and offered Michigan the western Upper Peninsula as a compromise, making Michigan arguably the war’s real winner, considering how valuable the U.P.’s natural resources proved to be.

With the boundary dispute settled, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill making Michigan the 26th state Jan. 26, 1837. 

To learn a great deal more about Michigan’s statehood and state symbols, visit SeekingMichigan.org/Learn.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on Celebrating statehood: Michigan’s state symbols

Kayaking Prentiss Bay

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

By Ranger Steve Mueller


For a decade I organized and led exploration outings during Labor Day Weekend. They were not the wilderness adventures where we camped with no toilets or restaurants. At Prentiss Bay off northern Lake Huron, we lodged in comfortable rooms and had great meals served in a dining hall. 

From early morning until well after dark, nature niche encounters filled our days. Early morning bird watching transitioned into nature preserve field trips from Cedarville and Drummond Island. Lake Huron’s north shore is rich with glacial drumlin islands I have weaved among in a canoe.

To provide tour participants with a new experience, I led interpretive kayak trips. Other naturalists lead canoeing and kayak outings down rivers or in lakes with a focus on paddling skill development or outdoor discovery. I desired to lead a more focused interpretive experience that I haven’t seen done by others. 

My purpose was to help people enjoy kayaking while discovering new aspects about the natural world. I kept participation to ten people. Prentiss Bay has a narrow inlet where water flushes in and out of the bay from the wide-open water of Lake Huron that reaches south to Port Huron by Sarnia. In the bay waves are usually small. Wearing life preservers, I helped each kayaker launch a kayak into calm water with instruction to paddle straight toward a tall white pine where the shoreline curved to the north. Once all were launched and hopefully becoming comfortable gliding across the water, I quickly caught up with the group. 

Upon joining the group, I put my kayak in reverse so to speak. I paddled backwards with my bow facing the group. A small group size allowed me to project my voice so all could hear. Instead of lecturing about the wonders of nature surrounding us, I helped them observe, question, and inquire about our encounters. 

Most obvious was the shoreline vegetation of fall flowers, trees and the impact of deer over browsing. White cedar trees lined the shore with green branches eaten as high as a deer could reach on hind legs. Yellow goldenrod flowers added late season color before deciduous trees ripened with golds and reds. Some maples provided red in wetlands but those on drier ground had not begun to lose their green chlorophyll. I could have spent time detailing the wonders of the life on the shore but beneath us we found richness in the water.

A dolomitic limestone bedrock underlays the bay. Since we were skirting the shoreline, we could watch fish and other aquatic inhabitants. Some organisms crawled along the bottom. Large lumps of bedrock projected from the water. Each was pitted with holes making the surface look like the inside of an egg carton. Hundreds of shallow holes covered rock surfaces. Observers were challenged to determine what caused such microtopography. It did not take long for some to determine that water sitting in small depressions dissolved rock to create pits. People discovered favorite gull perches by noticing whitewash deposits that dissolved rock. 

At the north end of the bay, I led the group through reeds projecting above the water surface. I knew what they would encounter as we glided through the plants but they did not. I let them know there was no danger. We could see easily through stiff pointed green grass-like stems to the shoreline. Water movement in the shallow water caused the firmly anchored plants to wave to passing birds.

It wasn’t long before our explorers were voicing anxiety about spiders crawling on the kayaks and on them. I assured them these spiders were not capable of biting them but many were still uncomfortable in the presence of arachnids. We pondered how the numerous spiders established residence on the scattered reeds far from shore. 

Green darner dragonflies hovered, darted, and fed among the offshore greenery. Many other waterway life form encounters enriched our experience. We reached the inlet to Prentiss Bay where we needed to cross to our landing. Waves were mild but larger than we had encountered. I had kayakers line up beside my kayak so mine would break the waves to make it easier for them. My kayak lessened wave height and with others in a row beside me, they could paddle calmer water. It was a good plan but each year it never worked. People were not able to hold their position. Regardless, they enjoyed the interpretive outing and no one dumped. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off on Kayaking Prentiss Bay

IRS kicks off 2019 tax-filing season as tax agency reopens


Use IRS.gov to avoid phone delays

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service successfully opened the 2019 tax-filing season today as the agency started accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2018. Despite the major tax law changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS was able to open this year’s tax-filing season one day earlier than the 2018 tax-filing season.

More than 150 million individual tax returns for the 2018 tax year are expected to be filed, with the vast majority of those coming before the April tax deadline. Through mid-day Monday, the IRS had already received several million tax returns during the busy opening hours.

“I am extremely proud of the entire IRS workforce. The dedicated IRS employees have worked tirelessly to successfully implement the biggest tax law changes in 30 years and launch tax season for the nation,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Although we face various near- and longer-term challenges, our employees are committed to doing everything we can to help taxpayers and get refunds out quickly.”

Following the government shutdown, the IRS is working to promptly resume normal operations.

“The IRS will be doing everything it can to have a smooth filing season,” Rettig said. “Taxpayers can minimize errors and speed refunds by using e-file and IRS Free File along with direct deposit.”

The IRS expects the first refunds to go out in the first week of February and many refunds to be paid by mid- to late February like previous years. The IRS reminds taxpayers to check “Where’s My Refund?” for updates. Demand on IRS phones during the early weeks of tax season is traditionally heavy, so taxpayers are encouraged to use IRS.gov to find answers before they call.

Posted in Tax TimeComments Off on IRS kicks off 2019 tax-filing season as tax agency reopens

IRS waives estimated tax penalty


The Internal Revenue Service announced earlier this month that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year. 

The IRS is generally waiving the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty. 

The waiver computation announced will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of Form 2210 and instructions. 

This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the far-reaching tax reform law enacted in December 2017. 

“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.” 

The updated federal tax withholding tables, released in early 2018, largely reflected the lower tax rates and the increased standard deduction brought about by the new law. This generally meant taxpayers had less tax withheld in 2018 and saw more in their paychecks. 

However, the withholding tables couldn’t fully factor in other changes, such as the suspension of dependency exemptions and reduced itemized deductions. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too little tax during the year, if they did not submit a properly-revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments. The IRS and partner groups conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign throughout 2018 to encourage taxpayers to do a “Paycheck Checkup” to avoid a situation where they had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns. 

Although most 2018 tax filers are still expected to get refunds, some taxpayers will unexpectedly owe additional tax when they file their returns. 

Additional Information 

Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required, by law, to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by either having tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments. 

Usually, a penalty applies at tax filing if too little is paid during the year. Normally, the penalty would not apply for 2018 if tax payments during the year met one of the following tests: 

The person’s tax payments were at least 90 percent of the tax liability for 2018 or 

The person’s tax payments were at least 100 percent of the prior year’s tax liability, in this case from 2017. 

However, the 100 percent threshold is increased to 110 percent if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is more than $150,000, or $75,000 if married and filing a separate return. 

For waiver purposes only, today’s relief lowers the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 85 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then they are not eligible for the waiver and the penalty will be calculated as it normally would be, using the 90 percent threshold. For further details, see Notice 2019-11, posted on IRS.gov. 

Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to check their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone now facing an unexpected tax bill when they file. This is also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change to ensure the right tax is still being withheld. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations. 

To help taxpayers get their withholding right in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov. With tax season starting Jan. 28, the IRS reminds taxpayers it’s never too early to get ready for the tax-filing season ahead. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits. 

Although the IRS won’t begin processing 2018 returns until Jan. 28, software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing returns before that date. Free File is also now available. 

The IRS also reminds taxpayers there are two useful resources for anyone interested in learning more about tax reform. They are Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax 

Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov. 

Posted in Tax TimeComments Off on IRS waives estimated tax penalty

Bring home some wild beauty


Overflowing with bold, vibrant blooms, gathered in a careful, carefree style, Naomi is a spirited bouquet that says “All eyes on me.”

(NAPS)—The days of formal, buttoned up and by the book, it seems, are over. The new trend is for easy breezy, free-spirited, casual. An attitude of latitude! From lifestyle to fashion to flowers, today’s beauty is in the looser details. You might say it is perfection in imperfections.

So the new Wild Beauty Collection of farm-fresh blooms naturally arranged in designs that are untamed, outspoken, and with a fresh point of view couldn’t be more au courant. Made up of flowers grown with love at eco-friendly, sustainable farms, these 11 vibrant and spirited bouquets appeal to a fresh, natural and more youthful aesthetic. Each comes artfully wrapped in brown kraft paper and arrives inside the signature 1800flowers gift box. Want an apt vase for displaying these free-spirited beauties? Opt for the charming, galvanized flower pail to complement the bouquet’s fresh-cut style.

With new bouquets featured every season in a variety of textures and colors that reflect the changing landscape, Wild Beauty is a collection of truly unique floral personalities. 

Meet The Bouquets

• Juliette is a hopeful romantic with blooms of pretty pink and red.

• Chloe, an effortless beauty with easy white-on-white style.

• Gabriella is flirty orange and yellows, with purples just to keep them on their toes.

As for alluring autumn bouquets, there are these fall lovelies:

• Hannah, whose tawny tones take the bronze, silver and gold.

•  With deep crimson and orange blooms, Madison knows how to kick up fiery passion.

Because every holiday table could use a touch of wild beauty, there are the Christmas bouquets:

• Lovely Christina, the consummate entertainer in fresh linen whites.

• And Ava, a melody of pinks and mauves that hits every high note.

Whichever style speaks most to you or someone you know, you can say hello to petals with personality. They all bring a free-spirited and fresh point of view to any decor. 

Learn More

To see all these wild beauties and many others, go to www.1800flowers.com.

Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments Off on Bring home some wild beauty

The Heart wants what it wants—on Valentine’s Day


Photo of an attractive married couple embracing eachother

(NewsUSA) – With the wrapping paper and bows barely put away, stores across the country are already prepping for the next major event—Valentine’s Day.

Whether loathed by the lonely hearted or embraced by hopeful romantics, Feb. 14 can elicit everything from anxiety to optimism. And why not? It is the one day a year that expectations are high, and hope is in the air.

Unfortunately, men can be poor planners when it comes to this special day, and trying to please one half of a couple without breaking the bank can also be a struggle. Which is why, say experts, the most romantic day of the year tends to be anything but.

“The majority of men act like robots, purchasing flowers and chocolate for their sweethearts because that’s what everyone else is doing,” says Michael Webb, a relationship author. “Many people celebrate the day out of obligation rather than celebration.” 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the following ideas to help jog the most uncreative mind to new heights:

*Consider the alternatives. Dinner reservations on Valentine’s Day (which happens to be on a Friday this year) require (sometimes) planning months ahead of time. If you haven’t already done so, a breakfast or brunch instead can be just as lovely. Besides being more inexpensive than dinner, it also allows for a full day of Valentine’s activities (planning still required). 

*Attend to the little things. It’s been said that the devil is in the details, and never is this more true than on the most romantic day of the year. So, whether you’re fine dining or having an intimate dinner for two at home, candles, soft music and incense can create a memorable ambiance not to be soon forgotten on this day of dates.

*Make a romantic gesture. Romance doesn’t have to break the bank. A few special truffles to be enjoyed with a bottle of wine are far more inexpensive (and appreciated) than a large box of chocolates. Or rejuvenate your youthful spirits by going to your neighborhood park and playing on the swings and slides. Oh, and be sure to put the same effort into the evening to make it just as romantic.

For everything you need for a romantic evening this Valentine’s Day, check out www.adamandeve.com. For a limited time only, you can use the discount code HEART2 and get 50 percent off one item, free shipping and a free gift.

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Little Shop of Horrors at Cedar Springs High School

Sophomore Martin Yakes and Junior Rylie Tate play Seymour and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. 


Cedar Springs High School is very proud to present its next musical production Little Shop of Horrors February 6-9, at 7 p.m.

“We are very excited to show off our amazing talent, set, and…man-eating plant,” said Rebecca Casavant, Musical Theater Director.

Sophomore Martin Yakes and Junior Rylie Tate play Seymour and Audrey, two odd-natured residents of Skid Row, who work at Mushnik’s Flower Shop (Mushnik played by Senior Austin Kibby). They run into some trouble, mostly related to sociopathic dentists and stoop-bearing urchins. 

“The entire cast has been working tirelessly to make this show as perfect as it can be,” said Casavant. “Bring your families, friends, or houseplants…You’ll see.”

Tickets are $10 at Cedar Springs High School or buy them online at https://hprodcshs.ludus.com/index.php

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Cedar Springs Public SchoolsComments Off on Little Shop of Horrors at Cedar Springs High School

Diary of a snow shoveler


December 8: 6:00 p.m. The first snow of the season. My wife and I sat for hours watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9: Woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow. Moving here was the best idea I’ve ever had. Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. The snow plow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. 

December 12:The sun melted all our lovely snow. My neighbor Bob said not to worry, we’ll have so much snow by the end of winter that I’ll never want to see snow again.

December 14: It snowed 8” last night. The temperature dropped to 20F. The cold makes everything sparkle so. I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. The snowplow came back and buried everything again. I didn’t realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling.

December 15: 12-14 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4×4 Blazer. Bought 2 extra shovels. My wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that’s silly.

December 16: Ice storm this morning. Fell on my butt on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like heck. My wife laughed for an hour, which I think was cruel.

December 17: Roads too icy to go anywhere. Electricity’s been off for 5 hours. Piled blankets on to stay warm. Guess I should’ve bought a wood stove, but won’t admit it to her. I hate it when she’s right.

December 20: Electricity’s back on, but had another 14 inches of the white stuff last night. More shoveling. Stupid snowplow came by twice. Called the only hardware store around about buying a snow blower and they’re out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they’re lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he’s lying.

December 22: 13 more inches of the white crap fell today, and it’s so cold it probably won’t melt till August. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter; but he says he’s too busy. I think the jerk is lying.

December 23: Only 2” of snow today and it warmed up to 0. My wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. Why didn’t she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she’s lying.

December 24: Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the idiot who drives that snowplow, I’ll drag him through the snow. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 mph and throws snow all over where I’ve just been! Tonight my wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was busy watching for the stinkin’ snowplow.

December 25: Merry Christmas. Snowed in. I hate the snow! The snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. My wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she’s an idiot.

December 26: Still snowed in. Why did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She’s really getting on my nerves.

December 27: Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze. December 29: 10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave-in. That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. 

December 30:  Roof caved in. The snow plow driver is suing me for $100,000 for the bump on his head. My wife went home to her mother. 9 inches predicted.

December 31: Set fire to what’s left of the house. No more shoveling!

January 8: I feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Posted in Joke of the WeekComments Off on Diary of a snow shoveler

Hometown Happenings

Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.


theTable at The Springs Church

Jan. 31, Feb.7: Meals are served every Thursday fom 5:30 to 6:30 pm at The Springs Church on the corner of Oak and Grant. All are welcome to theTable to enjoy this meal that is being shared with us! #tfnb

God’s Kitchen in Cedar Springs

Feb. 5,12,19,26: Join us for dinner every Tuesday. God’s Kitchen – Cedar Springs welcomes families from Northern Kent County and the surrounding area to a Tuesday Evening Meal. No charge – no registration required!  Served from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at the St. John Paul II Parish, 3110 – 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs. For more information, call the Church office at 616-696-3904. #5

North Kent Toastmasters Club Meeting

Feb. 5, 19: 1st and 3rd Tuesday each month @ 7pm to 8:45pm. Each meeting is an opportunity to improve our communication and leadership skills. We improve our communication by sharing our stories in prepared presentations. We build our leadership skills by serving in meeting roles and planning events. Visit our friendly, supportive, social environment. Find us on Facebook! Meet us at Meet-UP! Better yet, attend our meeting at Bella Vista Church, 5100 Belding Road, Rockford, west entrance. Share the FUN!! For info, call Sue at 616-481-9840 or visit our website http://www.nkctm.org. You’re Always Among Friends At Toastmasters — Where Leaders Are Made!! #5p

Valentine’s Snowshoeing at HCNC

Feb. 9: Bundle up for a candle lit snow shoe walk. Enjoy a guided walk to our bonfire where hot beverages and s’mores await you. If the snow decides not to show, this will be a trail walk. Saturday, February 9th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. All ages welcome. Snow shoes provided. Members: $3/ Nonmembers: $5. Preregistration requested. Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16190 Red Pine Dr., Kent City. 616-675-3158, www.HowardChristensen.org. #5

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Are you ready for the coldest weather we’ve had since 1994?

Tips for surviving below zero temps

By Judy Reed

As the polar vortex descends on Michigan tonight, we will experience some of the coldest temperatures we’ve had in 25 years. Temps will be in the single digits, with wind chills ranging anywhere from 20 to 40 below zero. That kind of cold can do damage not only to your health and home, but traveling can be dangerous as well.

From shoveling, to traveling, to preventing and thawing frozen pipes, the State of Michigan has given us some tips to share with you on surviving this cold spell.

To stay safe during cold weather:

*Limit your 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.

*Pets are also at risk for cold weather injuries and should be kept indoors.

To stay safe while traveling:

*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, and a cell phone charger in your kit.

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

*Motorists are encouraged to check travel conditions and weather reports before driving at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions. Major road closures can be found at www.michigan.gov/drive. The MSP/EMHSD asks that you tune into local news and/or view these websites rather than calling your local MSP post or 911 for travel conditions.

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.

*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 degrees 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.

*Residents who need assistance or guidance during the extreme cold are encouraged to call 211.

For more information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit www.michigan.gov/miready or follow MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS.

Posted in NewsComments Off on Are you ready for the coldest weather we’ve had since 1994?

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