Wisconsin Emergency Management

Be Informed

Heat Awareness Day proclamation

Heat Awareness information packet

Tornado & Severe Weather information packet

2018 School Tornado and Storm packet

Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community.

One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, or get a telephone call, or emergency workers may go door-to-door.

Emergency Communications

A weather radio is a "smoke detector for severe weather and hazardous conditions." Every family and business needs one.

How to Purchase a Weather Radio

Special Needs Radios

Radio Programming

NOAA WI Weather Radio Network

  Transmitter Office ID FREQ Notes:
1a Milwaukee Sullivan KEC-60 162.400 MHZ  
2a Madison Sullivan WXJ-87 162.550 MHZ  
3a Fond Du Lac Sullivan WWG-87 162.500 MHZ State Funded
4a Sheboygan Sullivan WWG-91 162.525 MHZ State Funded  Half Power Transmitter
5a Janesville Sullivan WWG-90 162.425 MHZ State Funded    Half Power Transmitter
6a Racine Sullivan KZZ-76 162.450 MHZ State Funded    Half Power Transmitter
7a Baraboo Sullivan KHA-47 162.450 MHZ Half Power Transmitter
1b Bloomington La Crosse WWG-86 162.500 MHZ State Funded
2b Pleasant Ridge La Crosse WWG-89 162.475 MHZ State Funded    Half Power Transmitter
3b Black River Falls La Crosse WNG-564 162.500 MHZ Half Power Transmitter
4b La Crosse La Crosse WXJ-86 162.550 MHZ  
5b Rochester La Crosse WXK-41 162.475 MHZ  
6b Withee La Crosse KZZ-77 162.425 MHZ State Funded
7b Winona La Crosse KGG-95 162.425 MHZ Half Power Transmitter
1c DoorCounty Green Bay WXN-69 162.425 MHZ State Funded
2c Green Bay Green Bay KIG-65 162.550 MHZ  
3c Crandon Green Bay WWG-88 162.450 MHZ State Funded
4c Wausau Green Bay WXJ-89 162.475 MHZ  
5c Wausaukee Green Bay WNG-553 162.400 MHZ  
6c Rhinelander Green Bay WNG-565 162.400 MHZ  
7c New London Green Bay WNG-552 162.525 MHZ  
8c Coloma Green Bay WWF-40 162.400 MHZ State Funded
1d Chicago Chicago KWO-39 162.550 MHZ  
2d Rockford Chicago KZZ-57 162.475 MHZ  
3d Crystal Lake Chicago KXI-41 162.500 MHZ Half Power Transmitter
1e Dubuque Davenport WXL-64 162.400 MHZ  
2e Freeport Davenport KZZ-56 162.450 MHZ Half Power Transmitter
1f Minneapolis Minneapolis KEC-65 162.550 MHZ  
2f Menomonie Minneapolis WXJ-88 162.400 MHZ  
3f Ladysmith Minneapolis WNG-577 162.550 MHZ  
1g Duluth Duluth KIG-64 162.550 MHZ  
2g ParkFalls Duluth WXM-91 162.500 MHZ State Funded
3g Webster Duluth KZZ-79 162.475 MHZ State Funded
4g Ashland Duluth KZZ-78 162.525 MHZ State Funded
5g Pine City Duluth WNG-678 162.425 MHZ  

Natural Disasters

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as making an emergency supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural or man-caused emergency.

However, there are important differences among potential emergencies that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Learn more about the potential emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them.

In addition, learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government.

Emergency preparedness is no longer the sole concern of earthquake prone Californians and those who live in the part of the country known as "Tornado Alley." For Americans, preparedness must now account for man-made disasters as well as natural ones. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.

Severe Weather Statistics - Check out these maps with historical severe weather information

Natural Disasters - Extreme Heat

Click here for Wisconsin Extreme Heat Toolkit

Know the Terms

    Heat Wave
    Prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity.

    Heat Index
    A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees.

    Heat Cramps
    Muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

    Heat Exhaustion
    Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim’s condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat Stroke
A life-threatening condition. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Sun Stroke
Another term for heat stroke.

Heat Facts

Summer heat waves are the biggest weather-related killers in Wisconsin for the past 50 years, far exceeding tornado and other storm-related deaths. In 1995, two major killer heat waves affected most of Wisconsin resulting in 154 heat-related deaths and over 300 heat-related illnesses.

Citizens of the State of Wisconsin can be seriously affected by severe heat, and it is essential that we increase awareness of the dangers of heat waves and the protective actions which can be taken by citizens.

National Weather Service Heat - Wave Program in Wisconsin

Outlook Statement

Issued 2 to 7 days in advance of when Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Warning conditions are anticipated. Issued as a Hazardous Weather Statement (HWO). Broadcasted on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, and posted on NWS web sites (www.weather/gov).

Heat Advisory

Issued 6 to 24 hours in advance of any 24-hour period in which daytime heat index (HI) values are expected to be 105-110 for 3 hours or more and night-time HI values will be 75 or higher. For west-central and northwest Wisconsin, numbers are 105-114 and 80, respectively.

Excessive Heat Watch

Issued generally 12 to 48 hours in advance of any 24-hour period in which daytime heat index (HI) values are expected to exceed 110 for 3 hours or more and night-time HI values will be 80 or higher. For west-central and northwest Wisconsin, numbers are 115 or higher, and 80 or higher, respectively.

Excessive Heat Warning

Issued 6 to 24 hours in advance of any 24-hour period in which daytime heat index (HI) values are expected to exceed 110 for 3 hours or more and night-time HI values will be 80 or higher. For west-central and northwest Wisconsin, numbers are 115 or higher, and 80 or higher, respectively.

During a Heat Emergency

What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:

    Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes.

    Keep your living space cool. Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees, use fans to blow hot air out of the window, rather than to blow hot air on to your body. Basements or ground floors are often cooler than upper floors.

    Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark, when temperatures are cooler.

    Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.

    Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light colored clothing. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool…and don’t forget sunscreen!

    Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool, and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.

    Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down. In fact, you will cool down faster than you will in an air-conditioned room! Also, applying cold wet rags to the neck, head and limbs will cool down the body quickly.
People at higher risk of a heat related illness include:
  • Older adults
  • Infants and young children
  • People will chronic heart or lung problems
  • People with disabilities
  • Overweight persons
  • Those who work outdoors or in hot settings
  • Users of some medications, especially those taken for mental disorders,
  • Movement disorder, allergies, depression, and heart or circulatory problems
  • People that are isolated who don’t know when or how to cool off – or when to call for help
For additional information about heat awareness, contact your local public health department or county emergency management director.

Flooding - Know the Terms

Click here for Wisconsin Flood Toolkit

    Flood Watch:
    Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

    Flash Flood Watch:
    Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

    Flood Warning:
    Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

    Flash Flood Warning:
    A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

During a Flood

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.

Driving Flood Facts

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Thunderstorms - Know the Terms

Click here for Wisconsin Severe Thunderstorm and Tornadoes Toolkit

    Severe Thunderstorm Watch
    Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio , commercial radio, or television for information.

    Severe Thunderstorm Warning
    Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

What to Do Before a Thunderstorm

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
  • Consider how a disaster might affect your individual needs.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
The following are guidelines for what you should do if a thunderstorm is likely in your area:
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
  • Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Remember that lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from the area where it is raining. That's about the distance you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek safe shelter immediately.
Avoid the following:
  • Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
  • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
If you are: Then:

Know the Terms

Click here for Wisconsin Severe Thunderstorm and Tornadoes Toolkit

    Tornado Watch
    Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio , commercial radio, or television for information.

    Tornado Warning
    A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Tornado Facts

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

The following are facts about tornadoes:
  • Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes a year.
  • The peak tornado season in Wisconsin is April to August, but tornadoes can occur any time of year.
  • Tornadoes can occur any time during the day or night, but are most frequent between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • About 80% of tornadoes that hit Wisconsin are relatively weak, with winds under 100 mph. Only 1% are violent with winds over 200 mph.
  • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
  • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • The average tornado moves southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 MPH, but may vary from stationary to 70 MPH.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.

What to do Before a Tornado

Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
  • Look for approaching storms
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

What to Do During a Tornado

If you are in: Then:
A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building) Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.
A vehicle, trailer, or mobile home Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter.
The outside with no shelter Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
Severe Weather Statistics - Check out these maps with historical severe weather information

Winter Awareness

Know the Terms

    Freezing Rain
    Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.

    Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.

    Winter Storm Watch
    A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.

    Winter Storm Warning
    A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.

    Blizzard Warning
    Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

    Frost/Freeze Warning
    Below freezing temperatures are expected.

    Damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20o Fahrenheit could cause frostbite in just 15 minutes or less. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear tips or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected – Seek medical care immediately!

    A condition that develops when the body temperature drops below 95oF. It is very deadly. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness. Seek medical care immediately!

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:
  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

Prepare your home and family

  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.

Prepare your car

  • Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
    • Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
    • Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
    • Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
    • Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
    • Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
    • Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
    • Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
    • Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
    • Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.

On the road

  • Check the roads: Before you leave get the latest Wisconsin road conditions at www.511wi.gov or call 511.
  • Feel the roads: When you first start out, accelerate carefully to test wheel spin and brake gently to test skidding.
  • Be gentle: Use the accelerator and brakes slowly to maintain control of your vehicle. Fast acceleration can make wheels spin on ice and snow. Stepping too hard on the break with lock them and cause loss of steering control.
  • See and be seen: Clear frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, lights and reflectors. Make sure you car has good wiper blades and an ample supply of windshild washer fluid. Using your headlights is also a good way to be seen especially in poor visibility conditions.
  • Increase your following distance: Ice and snow can multiply your stopping distance up to 10 times.
  • Make turns slowly and gradually: Heavily traveled intersections become “polished” and slick. Break before you come to a curve and not while you are in it.
  • Turn in the direction of the skid: If the rear of your car begins to slide, turn into the direction of the skid. Expect a second skid as the vehicle straightens out.
  • Scattered slippery areas: Icy spots on the road surface can cause loss of steering control. Don’t use your break. Take your foot off the gas and steer as straight at you can until your car slows to a safe speed.
  • Avoid a crash: In an emergency situation you may need to steer your car off the road and into a ditch or snow bank. You may get stuck but you’ll avoid a crash.
  • Wear your seatbelt and make sure kids are properly secured.
  • Keep gas in the tank: Have at least tank of gas in your car in case you are stranded or stuck.
  • Have a winter emergency kit: Keep a kit in your vehicle with candles and matches, a flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, a cell phone adapter, a blanket and extra clothing. For a complete list and a chance to win a kit go to http://readywisconsin.wi.gov

Get A Kit

  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
    • a shovel
    • windshield scraper and small broom
    • flashlight
    • battery powered radio
    • extra batteries
    • water
    • snack food
    • matches
    • extra hats, socks and mittens
    • First aid kit with pocket knife
    • Necessary medications
    • blanket(s)
    • tow chain or rope
    • road salt and sand
    • booster cables
    • emergency flares
    • fluorescent distress flag

Make a Plan

  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one

Dress for the Weather

  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

During a Winter Storm


  • Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

If you are outdoors

  • Overexertion is dangerous. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make an existing medical condition worse.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected:
    • get the victim to a warm location
    • remove wet clothing
    • put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket
    • warm the center of the body first
    • give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages if the victim is conscious
    • get medical help as soon as possible.

If you are driving

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
  • Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
  • Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.
  • If a blizzard traps you in the car:
    • Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
    • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.
    • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
    • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
    • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
    • Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs - the use of lights, heat, and radio - with supply.
    • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
    • If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
    • Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes.

House Fires

Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $8.6 billion annually.

To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

How can I protect myself from fire?

  • What to do before a fire
  • What to do during a fire

What to do Before a Fire

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property in the event of a fire:

Smoke Alarms

  • Install smoke alarms. Properly working smoke alarms decrease your chances of dying in a fire by half.
  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your residence. Place them outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall (4 to 12 inches from ceiling), at the top of open stairways, or at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not in) the kitchen.
  • Test and clean smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year. Replace smoke alarms once every 10 years.

Escaping the Fire

  • Review escape routes with your family. Practice escaping from each room.
  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut. Make sure security gratings on windows have a fire safety opening feature so they can be easily opened from the inside.
  • Consider escape ladders if your residence has more than one level, and ensure that burglar bars and other antitheft mechanisms that block outside window entry are easily opened from the inside.
  • Teach family members to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer in a fire) when escaping from a fire.
  • Clean out storage areas. Do not let trash, such as old newspapers and magazines, accumulate.

Flammable Items

  • Never use gasoline, benzine, naptha, or similar flammable liquids indoors.
  • Store flammable liquids in approved containers in well-ventilated storage areas.
  • Never smoke near flammable liquids.
  • Discard all rags or materials that have been soaked in flammable liquids after you have used them. Safely discard them outdoors in a metal container.
  • Insulate chimneys and place spark arresters on top. The chimney should be at least three feet higher than the roof. Remove branches hanging above and around the chimney.

Heating Sources

  • Be careful when using alternative heating sources.
  • Check with your local fire department on the legality of using kerosene heaters in your community. Be sure to fill kerosene heaters outside, and be sure they have cooled.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from flammable materials. Make sure the floor and nearby walls are properly insulated.
  • Use only the type of fuel designated for your unit and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store ashes in a metal container outside and away from your residence.
  • Keep open flames away from walls, furniture, drapery, and flammable items.
  • Keep a screen in front of the fireplace.
  • Have heating units inspected and cleaned annually by a certified specialist.

Matches and Smoking

  • Keep matches and lighters up high, away from children, and, if possible, in a locked cabinet.
  • Never smoke in bed or when drowsy or medicated. Provide smokers with deep, sturdy ashtrays. Douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.

Electrical Wiring

  • Have the electrical wiring in your residence checked by an electrician.
  • Inspect extension cords for frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
  • Make sure outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.
  • Make sure wiring does not run under rugs, over nails, or across high-traffic areas.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets. If you need to plug in two or three appliances, get a UL-approved unit with built-in circuit breakers to prevent sparks and short circuits.
  • Make sure insulation does not touch bare electrical wiring.


  • Sleep with your door closed.
  • Install A-B-C-type fire extinguishers in your residence and teach family members how to use them.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.
  • Ask your local fire department to inspect your residence for fire safety and prevention.

What to do During a Fire

If your clothes catch on fire, you should:

  • Stop, drop, and roll - until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster.
To escape a fire, you should:
  • Check closed doors for heat before you open them. If you are escaping through a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame before you open it. Never use the palm of your hand or fingers to test for heat - burning those areas could impair your ability to escape a fire (i.e., ladders and crawling).
Hot Door Cool Door
Do not open. Escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting fire fighters to your presence. Open slowly and ensure fire and/or smoke is not blocking your escape route. If your escape route is blocked, shut the door immediately and use an alternate escape route, such as a window. If clear, leave immediately through the door and close it behind you. Be prepared to crawl. Smoke and heat rise. The air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Close doors behind you as you escape to delay the spread of the fire.
  • Stay out once you are safely out. Do not reenter. Call 9-1-1.


Click here for Wisconsin Wildfire Toolkit

The threat of woodland fires for people living near woodland areas or using recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real. Dry conditions at various times of the year and in various parts of Wisconsin greatly increase the potential for woodland fires.

Advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings in these areas can lessen the devastation of a woodland fire. There are several safety precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of fire losses. Protecting your home from wildfire is your responsibility. To reduce the risk, you'll need to consider the fire resistance of your home, the topography of your property and the nature of the vegetation close by.

How can I protect myself from wildfire?

Influenza Pandemic

FAQ from the CDC,Click here.
An influenza (flu) pandemic is a global outbreak of a new flu virus that can spread easily from person to person. Like the seasonal flu many people experience every year, pandemic flu will probably spread by infected people coughing or sneezing and by touching an infected surface. Unlike seasonal flu, people will have little immunity to the new flu virus that causes a pandemic, and many more people will get sick.

Wisconsin is taking an aggressive approach to preparing for a pandemic flu outbreak in humans or animals.

For comphrehensive information on Wisconsin's preparedness for pandemic, go to http://pandemic.wisconsin.gov. It’s important to know that there are steps you and your family can take as well to help prepare for this threat, which are detailed below.

What To Expect In An Influenza Pandemic

When a flu pandemic occurs, it will likely be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many parts of our everyday lives, including schools, work, transportation and other public services. Being informed and prepared for what will happen will decrease your risk. The following are some situations to expect in a flu pandemic:

What To Do

Every Wisconsinite has an important role to play in preparing for a flu pandemic and helping to prevent the spread of influenza:

Technological Threats - Hazardous Materials

Click here for Wisconsin Chemical Release Toolkit

Wisconsin has many potential sources for technological threats:
  • 3 active nuclear power plants
  • 3,678 miles of railroad tracks
  • 111,517 miles of roads and highways
  • 150-200 airports
  • Numerous active harbors along Lakes Superior and Michigan and the Mississippi River.
Chemicals are found everywhere. They:
  • Purify drinking water
  • Increase crop production
  • Simplify household chores
But chemicals also can be hazardous to humans or the environment if used or released improperly.

Hazards can occur during:
  • Production
  • Storage
  • Transportation
  • Use
  • Disposal
You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work, or play.

Hazardous materials in various forms can cause:
  • Death
  • Serious injury
  • Long-lasting health effects
  • Damage to buildings, homes, and other property.
Many products containing hazardous chemicals are used and stored in homes routinely. These products are also shipped daily on the nation's highways, railroads, waterways, and pipelines.

Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others, including service stations, hospitals, and hazardous materials waste sites.

Varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used, or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the United States--from major industrial plants to local dry cleaning establishments or gardening supply stores.

Hazardous materials come in the form of:
  • Explosives
  • Flammable and combustible substances
  • Poisons
  • Radioactive materials.
These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in plants.

How to prepare for a Hazardous Materials Emergency

  • Determine how close you are to freeways, railroads or factories which may produce or transport toxic materials.
  • Be prepared to evacuate – for hours, days, or even weeks
    • Prepare a “go kit” for yourself and your loved ones
    • Develop an emergency plan and practice it
    • Create plans and kits for your pets
  • Have materials available to seal off your residence from airborne contamination in the event you are told to "shelter in place"

What to do During a Hazardous Materials Incident

Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. You should stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.
If you are: Then:
Asked to evacuate Do so immediately.

Stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures.

Follow the routes recommended by the authorities--shortcuts may not be safe. Leave at once.

If you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents, and turning off attic fans.

Take pre-assembled disaster supplies.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.
Caught Outside Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general, try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area. Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away.

Do not walk into or touch any spilled liquids, airborne mists, or condensed solid chemical deposits. Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke. If possible, cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area.

Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified.
In a motor vehicle Stop and seek shelter in a permanent building. If you must remain in your car, keep car windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.
Requested to stay indoors Bring pets inside.

Close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace dampers, and as many interior doors as possible.

Turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems. In large buildings, set ventilation systems to 100 percent recirculation so that no outside air is drawn into the building. If this is not possible, ventilation systems should be turned off.

Technological Threats - Radiological Threats

Know the Terms

    Notification of Unusual Event
    A small problem has occurred at the plant. No radiation leak is expected. No action on your part will be necessary.

    A small problem has occurred, and small amounts of radiation could leak inside the plant. This will not affect you and no action is required.

    Site Area Emergency
    Area sirens may be sounded. Listen to your radio or television for safety information.

    General Emergency
    Radiation could leak outside the plant and off the plant site. The sirens will sound. Tune to your local radio or television station for reports. Be prepared to follow instructions promptly.

During a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

Keep a battery-powered radio with you at all times and listen to the radio for specific instructions.

Cyber Crime

Cybercrime is defined as the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities, or violating privacy. The following tips and guidelines can help protect yourself and your loved ones from cybercrime:

Protect your children online

Use Strong Passwords

You should use passwords not only on your home computer but also for services you use elsewhere on the Internet. All should have the strongest passwords you can use and remember, and each password should be unique and unrelated to all other passwords. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long, uses combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation, and is usually not a word found in a dictionary. Don't use the same user name and password on multiple websites. Hackers can find that information on one site to get to critical information on other sites.

Keep your web browsers and operating system up to date

Vendors often release patches and updates for their software when a vulnerability has been discovered. Some companies release updates at a certain time each month. Many applications can be configured to automatically check for available updates. Another option is to periodically check the vendor's web site for information about software updates.

Know who you're dealing with online

Use security software tools as your first line of defense

Back Up Important Files and Folders

Keep a copy of important files on removable media such as ZIP disks or recordable CD-ROM disks (CD-R or CDRW disks). Use software backup tools if available, and store the backup disks in another location such as a fireproof safe, safety deposit box or at your child or parent's home.

Don't Open Unknown Email

This mail may use the return address of someone you know or has a provocative subject line. The sender is trying to encourage you to open the letter, read its contents, and click on a link to a malicious website or open an attachment that will install malware on your computer. If you must open an attachment before you can verify the source:

Secure Your Wireless Network

An unsecured wireless network can give hackers access to your computer in order to steal personal information or to upload malware onto your computer. To secure your wireless network, be sure to enable encryption, change the default password that comes with your wireless device, change the Service Set Identifier name (SSID), turn off SSID broadcasting and use MAC filtering. Your wireless device manual will have directions on how to implement these security settings.

Take Precautions with Mobile Computing

Laptops, PDAs and Cell Phones are more easily stolen or misplaced because of their size. Remember, if your laptop is gone, your data is too. Beyond the simple loss of the data stored on your hard drive, someone else could have access to:

Learn what to do if something goes wrong

Unfortunately, there is no particular way to identify that your computer has been infected with malicious code. Some infections may completely destroy files and shut down your computer, while others may only subtly affect your computer's normal operations. Be aware of any unusual or unexpected behaviors.
Brought to you by:

http://itsecurity.wi.gov http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Office_of_Privacy_Protection/index.aspx http://www.msisac.org

http://www.getnetwise.org/ http://staysafeonline.org/
ReadyWisconsin is an initiative of Wisconsin Emergency Management designed to educate and empower Wisconsinites to prepare for
and respond to all kinds of emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

Wisconsin Emergency Management
2400 Wright St.
Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608.242.3000     Fax: 608.242.3247