MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Don't get over-confident in the cold weather. Our bitterly cold temperatures are not to be taken lightly. In fact, you might be surprised to learn how little time is needed outside for things to turn dangerous.
The wind chill temperatures we are experiencing are considered extreme. Experts say 15 minutes in the bitter cold, that's all it takes for your heart rate to begin slowing.
As a postal carrier, Matt Barbian cannot escape the cold. So he has learned to deal with it -- which isn't just for his comfort; it keeps him safe.
"As long as you keep moving, it's okay. You don't want to stop too long," said Barbian.
Barbian says layers help as does spending a little extra time warming up in a car. And then there are the less obvious things he's learned over 20 years -- like staying hydrated.
"At this time of year, you don't feel like you need to, but you really do," said Barbian.
Barbian also says he pays extra close attention to where he walks -- because a fall in bitter cold temperatures can open you to greater risks than broken bones.
Paramedics say even when you expect to be out for a short time in bitter cold temperatures, carry a cell phone with you. This way, if you slip and fall, you can still ring for help.
In other cold-weather-related news, Milwaukee DPW crews were on the scene of a water main break near 69th and Center on Wednesday evening -- where a 12-inch water main broke. Just like everyone else working in sub-zero conditions, crews repairing water main breaks have to deal with water freezing quickly in the frigid air.
"Everything freezes up right away, so that's a challenge. Your equipment freezes. Your pumps freeze, trucks, everything. Everything gets wet, so everything freezes almost instantaneously," Dave Klug with Milwaukee Water Works said.
So far this year, we're told DPW officials have handled about 200 water main breaks. That's compared to the 500 we saw by this time last year during our unusually harsh winter.
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