National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce




 Welcome to Day 4 of Winter Hazard Awareness Week.  


Day 4: Winter Hazard Awareness Week- Cold Safety


Today is day 4 of Winter Hazard Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management and the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is sponsoring a Winter Hazard Awareness Week to help you prepare for the winter season.

Exposure to cold, biting air for long periods of time is dangerous and such cold can have a substantial impact on humans and animals. The wind is very efficient in taking heat away from the body and stronger winds can remove even more heat from the body.

  • Dress for the season. When out in the cold, wear loose, light-weight clothing in several layers. Always cover your head. Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • In extreme cold, limit time spent outdoors. Chemical hand and feet warmers can help avoid frostbite if you must be outdoors. Keep a close eye on children playing outdoor as they may not feel cold and frostbite can set in rapidly.
  • During cold weather it is very important to stay hydrated- drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and hard labor may cause a heart attack. If you are working or recreating outdoors, be careful to avoid sweating. During the winter months sweat accelerates the loss of heat from the body. When you stop moving or working, the sweat evaporates and can lead
    to the rapid onset of hypothermia or frostbite. If you find yourself sweating, consider temporarily shedding a layer or two of clothing or reduce your activity level.

Alcohol and cold do not mix well!

Fact: Many cold-related deaths and injuries in the Northland are due to alcohol consumption.
  • Alcohol clouds your judgement.
  • Alcohol lowers your body's core temperature and reduces your body's ability to keep you warm.
  • Alcohol make you more prone to tripping and falling.

Please drink responsibly!

  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • Stay with friends; make sure friends get home safely.
  • Plan to have a safe way home before you go out.


Here is an excellent booklet called "Winter Storms- the Deceptive Killers" from the NWS, Red Cross, and FEMA.

Minnesota Sea Grant has a great hypothermia website.

Remember that pets and livestock need special care in the cold:
Cold and pet safety from the American Veterinarian Association.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency maintains a helpful website with more suggestions to help you prepare for any emergency: weather related or non-weather related. Visit for more winter weather preparedness information.

You can view the information for the other Winter Hazard Awareness Week topics using the links below:

Day 1 - Winter Weather Terms
Day 2 - Preparation
Day 3 - Travel Safety
Day 5 - Indoor Winter Safety