Dangerously cold temps on the way

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Staff | January 3, 2014

Grab your hat and gloves: A wind chill advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. Friday morning for much of southern and central Wisconsin, but a blast of arctic air will blow into the state on Sunday night and stick around through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures and wind chills will be the coldest since 1996, and could cause life-threatening conditions.

The National Weather Service says cold air will begin pouring into Wisconsin Saturday night and into Sunday. The coldest stretch will be Sunday night through Tuesday. Meteorologists are predicting lows Sunday night of -10 to -25 with wind chills at -30 to -40. Monday, highs will reach only -5 to -15 with wind chills remaining in the -30 to -40 danger zone.

Bitter temperatures can lead to hypothermia and frostbite.

Frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 10 minutes. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear tips and tip of the nose. Limit your time outside. If you see these signs, seek medical care immediately!

Signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness in adults and children. In infants, symptoms can include bright red or cold skin and very low energy. If you notice anyone exhibiting any of the symptoms of hypothermia, seek medical care immediately!

With furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves working overtime during the cold spell, state health officials remind people to be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea/vomiting, and confusion. If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

Health officials also remind people to 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. 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. Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

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