Snow in Madison (Jackie Johnson file photo)

Snow in Madison (Jackie Johnson file photo)

With subzero temperatures hitting the state for the first time this winter, state officials says it’s a good time to brush up on how to safely deal with the cold.

All of Wisconsin saw temperatures below zero on Monday morning. The National Weather Service says another blast of Arctic air is due in tonight, and wind chills could be a problem into Wednesday.

Tod Pritchard with Wisconsin Emergency Management notes frostbite can set in quickly – about 30 minutes – so it’s important to keep skin covered with warm clothing while outdoors. “Make sure you’re covering as much of your skin as possible,” he says. “Especially those really susceptible spots – the tip of your nose, tips of your ears, your hands, your feet.”

Also be watching for signs of hypothermia, such as sudden fatigue and slurred speech. If you or someone with you begins to show signs of the cold affecting their behavior, Pritchard says you should quickly seek warmer conditions indoors.

Sudden cold spells leave many people looking for ways to stay warm, even if they have shelter. If your furnace is struggling to keep up with the demand, Pritchard says you should avoid the temptation to use some unconventional alternatives to help it along. You never want to use something meant for use outdoors indoors, such as a charcoal grill, gas grill, or propane heater, because of the potentially deadly carbon monoxide they can produce in an enclosed area.

State Agriculture officials are also reminding residents to take steps to make sure livestock and pets have access to plenty of food and fresh water, along with shelter. The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection notes that animals can also suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries, if not properly cared for.

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