GRAND HAVEN, Mich. - When weather conditions deteriorate in West Michigan, road crews are typically out monitoring and treating area roads. But it's not just roads that are being monitored, the U.S. Coast Guard in Grand Haven is also responsible for keeping the waters of Lake Michigan safe.
"We like to keep an eye out on the boat ramps and make sure they aren't icing up. 'Are they snow covered? Are there trucks or trailers there where people have been out on the waters?'" said William Parkinson from the U.S. Coast Guard in Grand Haven.
On Sunday the snow was falling, winds were whipping, and waves were crashing ashore in Grand Haven. Just because winter weather is upon us, doesn't mean that traffic out on the water has come to a stop.
"There is still a lot of commercial traffic out. It's starting to slow down now. There is still some recreation traffic out," said Parkinson.
The U.S. Coast Guard in Grand Haven must be ready to respond to search and rescue calls at any point in time, even when weather gets bad.
"We like to make sure that all of our assets here at the station, whether that's our ice rescue truck or the boats that we have in the water, are clear of snow. We're ready to go 365 days of the year. So it really doesn't matter how bad the weather gets. We are ready to respond," said Parkinson.
In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard base in Grand Haven responded to more than 70 search and rescue cases. Parkinson says it's important when out in the winter elements that individuals a plan in place.
"Let people know where you're going. Have a plan, 'If I'm not back by this time, come looking for me.' Always go with a buddy, have a radio with you, and have some screwdrivers with you if you're going to be crossing a lake," said Parkinson.
Taking the right equipment with you out into the winter elements can also be a good idea.
"Make sure you have a radio, make sure you have a personal locator beacon or some other means to signal for help. Wear bright color clothes if you're going to be out on the ice," said Parkinson.
Whatever may be thrown your way in winter season, the U.S. Coast Guard base in Grand Haven is ready to respond as you enjoy all of what Pure Michigan has to offer.
"You can see the relief on their face the minute you get your hands on them and get them onto your boat. You can feel the emotion of what they're going through and it really is a neat experience," said Parkinson.
For more information about the United States Coast Guard, visit their website.