Winter Weather Dangers
Richland Center, WI: An Arctic cold front is expected to plunge into the area Saturday night into Sunday bringing a chance of snow, but more importantly, the coldest air of the season (in fact, potentially the coldest air since early February of 1996). Wind chills late Sunday night through Tuesday morning could be as cold as 40 below to 50 below zero!
Here are some helpful tips to help you be prepared for this incoming very frigid and dangerously cold air mass….
On the road – If you have to travel make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Items to include in the kit are candles and matches, a flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, a cell phone adapter, a blanket, and extra clothing. For a complete list go to http://ReadyWisconsin.wi.gov
Health Risks – With wind chills of -40 to -50, there is an increased risk of frostbite, hypothermia or death. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves or mittens. Frostbite can happen in less than 10 minutes of exposure to those wind chill conditions. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear tips and tip of the nose. Limit your time outside and if you see these signs, seek medical care immediately.
Pet care – While our pets might seem to have built-in, warm winter coats, they too are sensitive to the elements. It is recommended to bring them indoors during this bitter weather. Dogs and cats can get frost bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during bitter cold weather. Chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also irritate pets’ paws – be sure to keep anti-freeze, salt and other poisons away from pets. Do your best to ensure that farm animals have plenty of food, fresh water and place to get out of the bitter cold wind.
Dress Appropriately – Dress in layers and wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing. Outerwear should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Always keep your head covered with a hat or cap as most body heat is lost through the head. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, which fit at the wrist, should be worn instead of gloves because fingers maintain more warmth when they touch each other.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by car exhaust, home heating systems, obstructed chimneys and improperly used heaters and appliances. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic flu symptoms and include sleepiness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath. Suspect carbon monoxide poisoning if several family members display the same symptoms in a short period of time. If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, open windows and doors, contact the fire department and go to an emergency room for evaluation. To help protect your family, install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor in your home. Make sure your home heating system is operating properly and if using wood as heat be sure your chimney is not obstructed.
Stay informed – Utilize your TV, radio or internet to stay current on the weather situation. For additional safety tips, visit http://ReadyWisconsin.wi.gov. For road conditions, visit www.511wi.gov/Web/ and for the latest weather information, visit the National Weather Service LaCrosse office website at www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/
Plan ahead to keep warm and safe.