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Cold weather

Cold Weather Safety Information and Resources

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. Preparing for cold weather can help you stay safe and healthy throughout the winter. Always check on elderly relatives and neighbors throughout the season, especially during extreme temperature events. Colder weather can put the elderly at higher risk for health problems. 

Contact a medical provider if you or someone you know is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite symptoms. If a health issue is an emergency, dial 911. 


Warming Shelters in Milwaukee

Individuals in need of public space to stay warm during the day can visit 211's list of locations in the Greater Milwaukee Area or dial 211. For overnight shelter locations, dial 211.

View Locations



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

Be Pared for Cold Weather

Be Prepared

  • Check furnaces annually before winter to ensure they are working efficiently and safely. 
  • Pay attention to local news and weather reports. Share information with others. 
  • 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 

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
    • Generators
    • Stove or ovens  
  • Never leave space heaters unattended or run them overnight while you are sleeping.  
  • Space heaters should also be plugged directly into a wall. Do not use an extension cord or power strip as they can overheat and cause a fire. 
  • Remember to keep flammable materials such as newspapers or clothing away from portable heaters. 
  • Check that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly at least twice a year. 

Stay Safe Outdoors

  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing and ensure that exposed skin is covered, including your fingers, nose, and ears. 
  • When heading outdoors, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. 
  • Be aware of the symptoms of both frostbite and hypothermia. Both require immediate medical attention.  
  • 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. 

Stay Safe When Traveling

  • Make a car survival kit that includes:
    • Blankets or sleeping bags
    • Extra clothing
    • High-energy foods
    • Water
  • Ensure your vehicle's fuel tank is at least half-full and that the battery is charged

Signs and Symptoms of Frostbite or Hypothermia:

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