Winter Weather Awareness 2024

We live in a county and state where we get to experience the change of seasons every 3 - 4 months. Every season brings unique ways to be better prepared for the unexpected.  We encourage you to think about having plans in place for the "just in case" times.  Does your home have a household emergency kit? Have you secured your important family documents in a safe place? During winter weather Awareness Week, we encourage you to take some time to ensure members of your household are prepared for winter. It is a good time to review with all drivers in your household.

This week is dedicated to help raise public awareness about the seasonal threats of winter weather, provide preparedness resources, and encourage everyone to plan ahead.

Winter can bring with it a wide variety of potentially dangerous weather. From impacting roadways, outdoor activities, infrastructure, and much more. According to the National Weather Service, last winter the highest one-day snowfall total in the state was 19.5 inches, reported on April 17th, 2023, and the coldest recorded temperature was -29 degrees Fahrenheit on February 4th, 2023. Damages from winter storms exceeds $1 billion annually

Being prepared can bring you and your family some peace of mind this winter season.

Winter Driving

  • Prepare yourself before you get on the road with the 511 Wisconsin Traveler Information System. By downloading the free 511 WI Smartphone app, following @511WI on Twitter, or visiting you can access these current statewide travel resources:
  • Stay safe and informed by checking with the National Weather Service and other trusted local sources daily for current forecast. Ice and snow on the roads are a major threat to drivers. The WI Dept. of Transportation reported that the state averages 40 fatalities and nearly 4,000 injured from vehicle crashes caused by winter road conditions each year. Drive distraction-free, adjust your speed for current conditions, and don’t crowd the plow.
  • Staying safe if stranded
    • If your vehicle slides off the road, gets stuck or becomes disabled, stay inside it with your seat belt fastened until a tow truck or other help arrives. If you’re inside your vehicle and buckled up, you have more protection against out-of-control vehicles than you would outside of your vehicle alongside the road.
    • Be easy to find by telling someone where you are going and the route you will take.
    • Tie a florescent flag (from your kit) on your antenna or hang it out the window. At night, keep your dome light on. Rescue crews can see a small glow at a distance. To reduce battery drain, use emergency flashers only if you hear approaching vehicles. If you're with someone else, make sure at least one person is awake and keeping watch for help at all times.
    • Walking in a storm can be very dangerous because you might become lost or exhausted while exposed to the cold and snow. Your vehicle is a good shelter.
    • Avoid Overexertion. Shoveling snow or pushing your car takes a lot of effort in storm conditions. Don't risk a heart attack or injury. That work can also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value, making you susceptible to hypothermia.
    • It’s better to be cold and awake than comfortably warm and sleepy. Snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car. Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window slightly open while running the engine is also a good idea.
  • Calling for help
    • If possible, call 911 on your cell phone. Provide your location, condition of everyone in the vehicle and the problem you're experiencing.
    • Follow instructions. You may be told to stay where you are until help arrives.
car stuck in snow

vehicle emergency kit contents

If you are stranded in your vehicle

  • Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Stay with your vehicle.
  • Do not walk to safety.
  • Keep warm to the best of your ability.
  • Use your vehicle’s heater to stay warm if you can.
  • Keep the grille and tail pipe clear of snow.
  • Periodically, open the window(s) partially to get fresh air into the vehicle.
  • Make good use of your winter driving kit.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation winter driving help site.

Indoor Winter Safety

  • Some of the dangers associated with winter storms include loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies. To help protect your family, now is the time to put together a disaster supply kit. Here are some items to include:
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a commercial radio
    • Bottled water and non-perishable food that requires no cooking.
    • First-aid supplies
    • If appropriate, extra medications and baby items
    • If you have an emergency heating source such as a fireplace or space heater, make sure you have proper ventilation.
    • Make sure pets have shelter and plenty of food and water.
    • Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

    • NSN-04-022022_CarbonMonoxideTheInvisibleKiller_v2Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors – carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. In 2022 there were 48 deaths and 373 emergency department visits in Wisconsin due to carbon monoxide poisoning. To protect your family from carbon monoxide, follow these simple safety tips:
    • Make sure you have working CO detectors.
    • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually to make sure it is structurally and functionally sound and vents properly to the outside of your home.
    • 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. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs, and boats with enclosed cabins.
    • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
    • Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.Home Emergency Kit graphic showing emergency kit content suggestions

Call 211 for Resources

Call 211 or visit the 211 website to be connected to multiple resources.  Phones are answered 24/7/365. If you need assistance call 211 on any device.  We are in contact with 211 and are updating our available resources.

More Tips to Stay Safe

Bundle Up

Why does wind make it feel colder than it actually is during winter? Wind pushes away from you the heat your body radiates. This can cause your body to lose heat much quicker and risk hypothermia. Bundle up!_images_wrn_social_media_cold_infographic

Protect Your Pets

Winter weather can be hard on our pets.  They should be brought inside when the temperature reaches 30 degrees with wind chill. They can get frost-bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during the bitter cold weather. Chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also irritate pets’ paws.  Be aware of your furry family members extra needs during cold weather. They can't just put on an extra layer.

Bulldog Dressed as Fireman

Prep Your Home and Vehicles

Winter Weather Awareness Week gives us a great opportunity to be prepared for the upcoming winter months.  We encourage all of you to find time to talk with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors about how are they preparing for these winter months.  

Winter preparation for our homes and autos is a great way to be prepared for the unexpected. 

Advisory vs Warning?

The National Weather Service not only provides us with Winter Watches, Advisories and Warnings, they have great information on being prepared for winter.   Stay safe and informed by checking trusted local radio and tv stations for current and forecasted weather.