Wisconsin residents need to be ready for three major winter weather events impacting the state over the next week. Wind, snow and cold will create dangerous conditions starting Friday, continuing through Wednesday.
For real time travel information the Wisconsin Department of Transportation provides the Wisconsin 511 traveler information system. Information is accessible on the web by visiting www.511wi.gov AND on your phone by calling 511 when in Wisconsin. 511 users have access to traffic and road conditions, road construction and lane closures, travel times, traffic incidents and other delays, as well as information on roadside services such as rest area locations.
Never use 511 when driving. Have someone else in the car dial in; call or check the web before you begin your journey; or pull off the highway, park in a safe place, and then make the call. Keep your focus on the road when driving.
Also, 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, water, a cell phone adapter, a blanket and extra clothing.
Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite.
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.
Warning signs of hypothermia:
- shivering, exhaustion
- confusion - memory loss, slurred speech
Infants: - bright red, cold skin
- very low energy
What to Do
If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin—frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:
- a white or grayish-yellow skin are - skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb.
What to Do
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia, as described previously. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.
For further information please contact the Kenosha County Division of Health at (262) 605-6700 or visit our website at www.kenoshacounty.org.