With a significant winter storm forecasted to impact much of Wisconsin this week, everyone in the state is encouraged to take steps now to ensure they are prepared.

The National Weather Service is forecasting several states in the Midwest will be impacted by a winter storm beginning on Wednesday evening and lasting through Saturday, which will be capable of producing strong winds, significant snowfall totals and blizzard-like conditions. In addition, dangerously cold wind chills are expected into the weekend. The storm could result in hazardous travel conditions and power outages throughout the region, which is of particular concern during the busy holiday travel weekend.

“While the impact of this storm could vary widely across the state, it’s still important for everyone to treat this situation seriously and take steps now to protect themselves and their loved ones,” advised Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Greg Engle. “Get your emergency kits ready and have a plan for what you will do to remain safe if you lose power or are unable to leave home for a couple of days. With Thursday and Friday likely to lead to dangerous conditions on the roads, reconsider or delay any travel plans you may have on those days.”

ReadyWisconsin encourages you to prepare before the storm by doing the following:

  • Make sure you have food, water, and other supplies in a home emergency supply kit. It should also include a battery-operated or hand-crank radio and extra flashlights and batteries.
  • Keep cell phones and other electronic devices fully charged in case you lose power.
  • If you don’t already have one, create an emergency supply kit for your vehicle. Include jumper cables, sand, a snow shovel, a flashlight and spare batteries, warm clothes, blankets, bottled, water and nonperishable snacks. Make sure you have a full tank of gas.
  • If you have travel plans for Thursday and Friday, consider delaying them or leave before the storm. During a winter storm, stay off the roads if possible. If you must be on the road, check 511 Wisconsin for updates on major routes. It is available online at http://www.511wi.gov or through the 511wi mobile app. 

During and after the storm, stay safe with the following tips:

  • High winds combined with snow could result in homes losing power and delay the ability of utility crews to repair damaged lines. Have a plan on what to do if you lose power. Identify family or friends you may be able to stay with, along with contact information for your utility to report an outage and to receive updates on restoration times.
  • If your heat goes out, close off any unneeded rooms. Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors. Close blinds or curtains to retain heat in your home. Remember to eat or drink, because food provides your body with energy to produce its own heat. Open your faucets to a steady drip so water pipes don’t freeze.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If a power outage does occur and you use a generator, place it outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and attached garages. Never bring a grill or outdoor heating device into your home.
  • If you are traveling and become stranded, call for help and stay with your vehicle. Run the motor about 10 minutes every hour for heat. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make your vehicle visible to rescuers by leaving a dome light on while the car is running and tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna.
  • High winds could result in dangerous conditions along shoreline areas and cause branches to fall from trees.
  • With frigid temperatures and windchills, limit your time outdoors and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling snow and walking in the snow.
  • Check on friends, family, and neighbors who may need assistance.
  • Protect you pets from winter weather by bringing them indoors or making sure they have adequate shelter outdoors.

For the latest forecast information about the storm, check in with your local National Weather Service office. Find them at https://weather.gov.

For more winter storm preparedness information, including a list of emergency supplies for your home and vehicle, check out https://readywisconsin.wi.gov. You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for storm updates and safety tips.