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Cold Weather Safety

Cold temperatures can quickly become dangerous. The City of Milwaukee Health Department monitors extreme cold temperatures with the National Weather Service, and issues cold-weather health alerts and advisories. Being prepared ahead of cold weather can help you stay safe and healthy all winter.

Always check on elderly relatives and neighbors throughout the season, and especially during extreme temperature events. Colder weather can put the elderly at higher risk for health problems.

Stay safe all winter long by following these health and safety tips:

1. Be prepared

  • Have furnaces checked annually before winter to ensure they are working efficiently and safely.
  • Pay attention to local news and weather reports. If you know of someone who may not be aware of weather warnings, including individuals with hearing loss, share the information with them.
  • Create a cold-weather preparedness kit for your family that includes:
    • Candles and matches
    • Hand-cranked or battery-operated flashlight and radio
    • Cellular phone
    • Extra batteries
    • Blankets or sleeping bags
    • Extra clothing
    • High-calorie non-perishable food
    • Extra food and water for pets
    • First aid kits and any medications you require
    • Tool kit

2. Stay safe at home

  • Heat your home with devices approved for indoor use, and ensure they are properly vented to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning or fires. Never use wood-burning or coal-burning grills, camp stoves, or other outdoor devices indoors. Remember to keep flammable materials such as newspapers or clothing away from portable heaters.
  • Make sure that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
  • Be prepared for power outages in your neighborhood. This can be due to wind or ice. Have blankets and warm clothing on hand to keep you warm. A preparedness kit is good to have around.

3. Stay safe outdoors

  • When heading outdoors, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing and ensure that exposed skin is covered, including your fingers, nose, and ears. Keep children indoors.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of both frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite can occur within minutes when unprotected skin is exposed to very cold temperatures, causing the affected area to appear white or grayish-yellow in color and feel firm or waxy. Hypothermia is life-threatening, and occurs when the body temperature drops too low, causing shivering, drowsiness, clumsiness and confusion. Both require immediate medical treatment.
  • Do not touch metal surfaces with uncovered hands. Flesh can freeze instantly to a surface.
  • If you have pets, bring them inside and ensure trips outside are brief.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes the body to lose its heat more rapidly – even though one may feel warmer after drinking alcoholic beverages.

4. Stay safe when traveling

  • Make a car survival kit that includes blankets, sleeping bags, extra clothing and high-energy foods.
  • Ensure that your vehicle’s fuel tank is at least half-full and that the battery is charged.

Milwaukee Area Warming Centers:

List current as of January 7, 2020. Call 211 for information about places to stay warm, including emergency shelter options that are available year-round.

Overnight Warming Rooms

Divine Intervention (Ministry to the Homeless)
Tippecanoe Church, 125 W. Saveland Ave., Milwaukee

  • Call 2-1-1 for entry
  • Serves single adults age 18 and older
  • Open December 1st - March 31st from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday through Saturday
  • No temperature threshold

Ephesians Missionary Baptist Church
2412 N. 6th St. (6th & Meinecke), Milwaukee

  • Serves single adults age 18 and older
  • Open December 2nd - March 1st from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday through Saturday
  • Call 2-1-1 for entry or walk-in 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Greater New Birth Warming Center
8237 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee

  • Call 2-1-1 for entry or walk in 7 p.m.-10 p.m.
  • Serves families and single adults age 18 and older
  • Open Sunday - Saturday 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. when 15 degrees or below

Guest House of Milwaukee
1216 N. 13th St., Milwaukee

  • Must call 2-1-1 for entry
  • Serves single men age 18 and older, additional capacity added in wintertime
  • Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
  • No temperature threshold

Repairers of the Breach
1335 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee

  • Serves single adults age 18 and older
  • Open from Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. as a day shelter
  • Reopens for overnight shelter at 8 p.m. when the temperature is 20 degrees or below, but guests must arrive no later than 10 p.m.
  • Walk-ins welcome

St. Benedict De Moor
924 W. State St., Milwaukee

  • Serves single adults age 18 and older
  • Open Sunday through Saturday from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Call 2-1-1 for entry or walk-in any time during open hours

Daytime Warming Rooms

MacCannon Brown Homeless Sanctuary
Hephatha Lutheran Church
1720 W. Locust St., Milwaukee

  • Enter at 18th & Locust
  • Open every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Walk-ins welcome

Repairers of the Breach
1335 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee

  • Open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. as a day shelter
  • Walk-ins welcome

Milwaukee Rescue Mission
830 N. 19th St.

  • Enter on 18th and Wells
  • Open daily on days the temperature falls to 32 degrees or below
  • Walk-ins welcome

Salvation Army, multiple locations

  • Call 211 for entry or walk-in
  • Serves men, women and families
  • 1645 N. 25th St., Milwaukee, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • 4129 W. Villard Ave., Milwaukee, Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • 2900 W. Coldspring Road, Greenfield, open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Milwaukee Public Library Locations
The library allows individuals to come to the facility during regular business hours as a means to stay warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months. Hours vary by location. (414) 286-3000

  • Central, 814 W. Wisconsin Av.
  • Atkinson, 1960 W. Atkinson Av.
  • Center Street, 2727 W. Fond du Lac Av.
  • East, 2320 N. Cramer St.
  • Mitchell Street, 906 W. Historic Mitchell St.
  • Villard Square, 5190 N. 35th St.
  • Bay View, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Av.
  • Martin Luther King, 310 W. Locust St.
  • Washington Park, 2121 N. Sherman Bl.
  • Capitol, 3969 N. 74th St.
  • Mill Road, 6431 N. 76th St.
  • Tippecanoe, 3912 S. Howell Av.
  • Zablocki, 3501 W. Oklahoma Av.

For more cold weather safety tips, check out the following:
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