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County: stay inside, check on neighbors during freezing snap

By Patrick Lynn

Dangerously low temperatures are forecasted for much of area in the coming weeks, and county officials are asking residents to use caution.

Wind chills in the 20-30 below zero range are expected through Saturday night.

Portage County Public Health and Emergency Management released its own warning on Tuesday morning, to include steps they advise residents take to be safe and stay warm.

-Stay inside. When possible, stay indoors.
-Stock a home emergency kit. Your home kit should include items such as food and water, cell
phone and charger, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, important medications, a weather radio,
and a change of clothes. Visit readywisconsin.wi.gov/make-a-kit for more items and tips.
-Dress in layers. If you have to venture out, dress in several loose-fitting layers. Wear a hat,
mittens, and snow boots. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and face.
-Winterize your car. Just as you have a home emergency kit, you need one for your car too. Pack
items such as blankets, snacks and water, a shovel, jumper cables, and sand. Visit
readywisconsin.wi.gov/make-a-kit for more items and tips. Keep your gas tank at least half-full.
-Check on your friends, family, and neighbors. The elderly, babies in cold bedrooms, people who
spend lots of time outside (e.g., the homeless, hunters), and people who drink alcohol or use drugs
are more likely to be harmed from the cold.
-Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin
are required to have properly working detectors on every level, including the basement, but not
the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for $20-50.
-Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage.
Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector
where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, and RVs.
-Run generators at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the
home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
-Limit outdoor time for pets. Extreme cold is dangerous for animals too.
-Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia. Warning signs include shivering, exhaustion,
confusion, and slurred speech, and symptoms can look similar to intoxication. Call 911 if someone
is exposed to cold temperatures and you see these symptoms.

Warming sites have been identified throughout the county and as of Tuesday morning, are open during normal business hours. If overnight accommodations are needed, residents are asked to contact Portage Co. Public Health Division’s Emergency Services at (715) 344-7438, the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at (715) 346-1400, or United Way’s 211.

Warming sites include:
-Portage County Aging and Disability Resource Center located at 1519 Water Street, Stevens
Point — 715-346-1401; Hours: 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM
-Portage County Health and Human Services located at 817 Whiting Avenue, Stevens Point —
715-345-5350; Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (M) and 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM (T)
-Portage County Public Library located at 1001 Main Street, Stevens Point
715-346-1544; Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday through Saturday; 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm Sunday
(May close early due to weather)
-Salvation Army located at 1600 Briggs Street, Stevens Point –715-341-2437; Hours: 9:00 AM –
9:00 PM
-Stevens Point Recreation Center located at 2442 Sims Avenue, Stevens Point –715-346-1531;
Hours 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM
-Lettie Jensen Community Center located at 487 North Main Street, Amherst –715-498-5012;
Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM (T)
-Rosholt Public Library located at 137 North Main Street, Rosholt –715-677-4510; Hours: 9:00
AM – 12:00 PM
-Village of Almond Municipal Center located at 122 Main Street, Almond — 715-366-8171; Hours:
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday through Wednesday
-Village of Plover Municipal Center located at 2400 Post Road, Plover — 715-345-5252; Hours:
7:30 AM – 4:30 PM

In the 2017-2018 winter season, 38 people died from exposure to extreme cold. Visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for more information about staying safe during extreme cold.