Winter in Wisconsin means COLD! Make sure you dress adequately for outdoor activities; layers of clothing are best. Don’t forget to include the wind chill factor when going outdoors also.
Storm Watches and Warnings
Listen to your NOAA Weather Alert radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A winter storm WATCH means a winter storm is probable. A winter storm WARNING means a winter storm is headed for your area. A BLIZZARD WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!
Preparing your Family
In addition to a disaster supplies kit, prepare for the possibility that you will need to stay in your home for several days after a winter storm. Make sure that you have sufficient heating fuel as well as emergency heating equipment in case electricity is cut off.
House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions. Keep all heaters, including electric, at least three feet from flammable objects. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. NEVER use a petroleum fueled heater or generator indoors, including a gas stove. They create carbon monoxide which is odorless, colorless, and deadly.
Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.
Preparing Your Car
Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair. Winterize your car by checking your car battery, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashers, exhaust, heater, brakes, defroster and tires. Ensure that your car has adequate antifreeze and windshield washer fluid and check regularly throughout the season.
Place a winter emergency kit in each car. Items you may want to include are: shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, extra batteries, water, snack food, extra hats and mittens, blanket, tow chain or rope, sand or cat litter, booster cables, emergency flares, and fluorescent distress flag.
If traveling by car during a winter weather advisory, try to travel in daylight, keep others informed of your route and stay on main roads. Avoid driving during a winter storm warning. Go to the WI DOT 511 website for the latest information on road conditions throughout the state.
Preparing Your Home
Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, livestock or equipment. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic, insulate walls and attics, and apply caulk and weather-stripping to doors and windows. Seal cracks and holes in outer walls and foundations. Check where cables (TV, phone) and pipes enter the house. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts). You may also want to install pipe insulation or a water heater blanket. Remove excessive snow from roofs with a roof rake, taking care not to damage roofing materials. Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow.