Tips to stay safe and be prepared for the cold

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Posted Thursday, November 5, 2013 --- 6:28 p.m.

With the dangerously cold weather expected to dominate our area for the next week, there are some important things to keep in mind.

With the ice storms and snow that come with Wisconsin winters, it's not as simple as knowing what to do if something happens, it's far more important to expect something to happen and have that stuff ready.

"Plain and simple driving in the winter is a lot different than driving in the summer."

Snow, wind, ice, and even hail can all come between you and your destination. J McLellan with Dane County Emergency Management says there's more to know than you think. He says it all starts with making sure someone knows where you are.

"Plan ahead let people know if you're going someplace call ahead and let them know I'm leaving now."

He says that way, when you don't show up, someone will start looking. And he says you cant just rely on technology.

"Many people think well I'll just call and then maybe the cell tower is down, that's one of the critical reasons to decide ahead."

In the case that your phone does work, having a tow truck number and number for the state police will go a long way. J says as long as your tail pipe is clear, you should run your car for short periods at a time until help arrives. If you haven't packed your winter safety bag...now's the time.

"Simple things like a coffee can with salt and sand, a little shovel, extra blankets, a simple backpack, never underestimate the value of a flashlight."

J says you should think about what you personally would need to survive and make sure it's there. Including medicines, food, water, and warm clothing.

When it comes to keeping yourself and your kids warm there are some more tips to keep handy.

Hypothermia, frost bite, and frost nip, the three most common results of hanging out in the cold too long. Dr. Aaron Ray says sometimes too long, means minutes.

"Well unfortunately in Wisconsin, it doesn't take that long especially when we have early morning kids waiting for the bus, when the wind chill starts to drop down so it can take a matter of minutes sometimes before they start getting at least the frost nip."

Dr. Aaron Ray says when it comes to kids, always make sure you give them one more layer than what you would need.

"Make sure all the exposed skin is covered up, the face mask, the mittens, everything covered just to make sure."

With the temperatures we're expecting this week, hypothermia could set in in a half an hour, and frost nip in just 2-3 minutes.

"If you start seeing evidence that it looks like a burn so if it starts looking bright red or they start developing blisters things like that, those need to be seen right away. In a hypothermia standpoint, if they just don't seem to be acting like themselves."


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