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The bitter cold is on its way! Some tips on staying safe when wind chills become dangerous

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Another blast of arctic air is headed our way — with temperatures expected to plummet Tuesday, February 17th. Temperatures should be around 0 by Wednesday morning, with wind chills between -10 to -15. The bitter cold continues Wednesday with highs in the single digits and wind chills between -10 and -15. Thursday morning, we could see wind chills as low as -25.

A cold spell involving dangerous wind chills can send some to the burn center with frostbite.

“They really need to think ahead when they`re going out on an evening where it`s cold. A lot of times they`re homeless patients, mentally ill patients, oftentimes drug or alcohol abuse patients who aren`t aware of what`s going on,” Dr. Daniel Ochelek with Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital said.

Doctors say it’s important that anyone with symptoms beyond minor pain and numbness see a doctor within 24 hours.

“The next symptom would be a visual change — like the change in the color from being pink or white to actually being bluish and that`s a really bad sign,” Dr. Ochelek said.

This coming bitter cold has FEMA and the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs reminding folks to stay safe.

Health Risks – With these bitter temperatures, beware of hypothermia and frostbite. Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold. Dress in layers and keep dry. Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance. Frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 10 minutes. 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. If you see these signs, seek medical care immediately! Signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness in adults and children. In infants, symptoms can include bright red or cold skin and very low energy. If you notice anyone exhibiting any of the symptoms of hypothermia, seek medical care immediately!

Carbon Monoxide Danger – Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea/vomiting, and confusion. If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, seek shelter elsewhere immediately and call 911. Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide. Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Pet Precautions – 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. Cats sometimes crawl under cars and into the engine compartment, seeking shelter and warmth. Bang on the hood before starting the car on cold days to startle sleeping animals.

On the road – If you are traveling 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. Call 511 or go to for the latest Wisconsin road conditions before traveling especially on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures.

“Whether traveling or at home, subfreezing temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take the proper precautions,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Regional Administrator. “FEMA continues to urge people throughout the Midwest to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe.”

During cold weather, you should take the following precautions:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold
  • Dress in layers and keep dry
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance
  • Know the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe.
  • Bring your pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water.
  • Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight – and keep the fuel tank above half full.
  • If you are told to stay off the roads, stay home. If you must drive, don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and stay on main roads.
  • You can find more information and tips on being ready for winter weather and extreme cold temperatures at

Any time the temperature is below 10 degrees, or the wind chill dips below -10, Repairers of the Breach on West Vliet Street extends the hours of its daytime warming shelter and stays open overnight.


Milwaukee homeless shelters:

Repairers of the Breach – 1335 West Vliet Street, Milwaukee (414) 934-9305

Milwaukee Rescue Mission – 830 North 19th Street, Milwaukee (414) 344-2211

Milwaukee Women’s Center – 728 North James Lovell Street, Milwaukee (414) 449-4777

Guest House of Milwaukee – 1216 North 13th Street, Milwaukee (414) 345-3240

Salvation Army Emergency Lodge – 1730 North 7th Street, Milwaukee (414) 265-6360

CLICK HERE for further Milwaukee-area shelter listings.

CLICK HERE for cold weather tips from the CDC.

CLICK HERE to monitor the forecast via

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