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MADISON, Wis. – An arctic blast has moved into Wisconsin as of Wednesday, Jan. 5, and will be here through Saturday, Jan. 8. This extreme cold can affect people and animals in mere minutes.

The National Weather Service has indicated that an arctic blast, with the extreme cold such as what we are seeing currently, will have “subzero wind chills in the double digits,” and reminds us that “a wind chill of negative 20˚ Fahrenheit will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes.”

ReadyWisconsin has compiled the following advice for an arctic blast:

  • Limit your time outdoors. If you must be outside, dress for the weather. Wear loose-fitting layers, a hat, gloves, and snow boots. Make sure you have a scarf or some other way to cover your face.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia, which include excessive shivering, exhaustion, confusion, and slurred speech. If you, or anyone around you, begins to show symptoms, call 911 immediately.
  • Know the signs of frostbite, which include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness. If you detect symptoms, get to a warm area. Do not try to rub them, as it can cause more damage.
  • Check the supplies in your home and vehicle emergency kits. If food items or batteries have expired or run low, replace them.
  • Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors around your home. If you can’t remember the last time you changed the batteries, go ahead and replace them.
  • Check your furnace to make sure it is working properly. If you rely on heating oil or propane, make sure you have enough to last through the current period of cold temperatures and schedule a delivery before you start to run low.
  • Do not attempt to use gasoline or propane heaters or a grill to heat your home or garage. Those devices produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in enclosed areas.
  • Prepare your vehicle for the possible effects of the cold weather. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Pack an emergency kit with items such as food, water, extra blankets and warm clothing, booster cables, and a cell phone charger.
  • Make sure water pipes in unheated areas are properly insulated. If you have faucets served by exposed pipes, let water drip from them or run at a slow trickle to prevent freezing. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow heat to get to the pipes.
  • If you have pets, limit their time outdoors. Dogs and cats can get frost-bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during bitter cold weather. For livestock, make sure they have access to extra food and a water source that will not freeze. Outdoor animals need access to a dry place to seek shelter. Help provide a windbreak for larger animals and an enclosed space for smaller animals to help them retain their body heat.

Warming centers are available for those who do not have access to a warm location.

Information for warming centers for the state can be found through 211 Wisconsin Contact Centers, by dialing 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211.

More safety information regarding winter weather and other emergency issues can be found through ReadyWisconsin, a campaign that was launched in September 2008, through Wisconsin Emergency Management, the Wisconsin Citizen Corps, and is funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. The ReadyWisconsin Facebook page or Twitter profile posts daily safety tips for followers.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services offers safety information on their website, and the National Weather Service offers regularly-updated weather conditions for our area.

The Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens are committed to sharing important weather news with the community. Make sure to check our Weather category for official announcements, updates on weather conditions and more.

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