(WFRV) – Are you prepared if your house or apartment loses electricity during the winter? What about if your car breaks down?

Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach created helpful tips with Brown County Emergency Management (EM) Coordinator Sam Martin to educate the community on safety this winter.

In emergency situations, Streckenbach says seconds matter. The longer you are safe, the easier it is for first responders to be able to react quickly – giving you a better chance to survive.

Bigger, bulkier jackets and warm knit hats can help keep frostbite away in the cold winter weather. “Pay attention to the weather that’s coming up,” explained Martin. “Pay very close attention to the weather so you know what’s coming up in advance. When you see those weather warnings coming up, that’s your time to go to the store and start stocking up.” Martin adds that community members should also check on their neighbors and how they are doing, especially the elderly.

It’s not uncommon for residents’ power to be out for a few hours in Brown County. In extreme situations, Martin explains electricity could be out for a few days or even weeks due to ice storms, technical difficulties, or other natural causes.

One of the first and main things people run out of during these situations is their heating system. “Some things that we want to make sure people do is make sure you have enough stuff to stay warm in your house. Blankets, sleeping bags, things like that, as well as heavy-duty clothing that you have inside your house so you don’t have to go outside to get it,” said Martin.

What NOT to use

Martin stresses that people should not use charcoal, pellet, or propane power grills inside the house or garage. These grills are not designed to burn inside an enclosed building and carbon monoxide can build up pretty quickly. Martin says many people in the nation die because they think it will be okay.

Ovens and stoves are also not proper places to find heat. “These items are not designed for long-term use to heat large areas and can overheat and cause a fire,” explained Martin.

Generators are helpful to have, but Martin says, again, do not have them inside your house or garage when they are running. “If you’re going to use them to, say, charge a freezer or cells phones, that’s fine. We recommend that you don’t hook it up to your household system without having a qualified electrician do that connection because of the possibility of feeding that current back into the system.”

Items for long-duration home/apartment power-outages

The following items can help people prepare for long-duration power outages:

  • Bottled water and non-perishable food that requires no cooking. Martin reccommends a gallon of water per person, per day. Plus extra water for pets.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA Wather Radio and a commercial radio.
  • First aid supplies.
  • Extra medications and baby items.
  • Pet food/shelter.
  • Blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Power banks for cell phone charging.
  • If you have an emergency heating source such as a fireplace or space heater, make sure you have proper ventilation.

Emergency kit for your car

Wisconsin Emergency Management has identified a number of items to have in the trunk of your car in the event it breaks down:

  • Cell phone car charger.
  • Drinking water and snacks.
  • Duct tape.
  • First aid kit with pocketknife.
  • Shovel and Windshield Scraper.
  • Matches.
  • Blankets, extra hats, socks, and mittens.
  • Booster cables & tow chain/rope.
  • Sand or cat litter.
  • Emergency flares.
  • Flashlight.
  • Fluorecent distress flag.

Number one item to have in your trunk?

Martin says he thinks the most important single item to have in your car when it breaks down is a blanket or sleeping bag. “If you can stay warm, most everything else will resolve itself eventually. You may be in [your car] for a little bit longer – if your cell phone dies and you can’t call for help – obviously having a way to charge that is important, but if you can’t stay warm that cell phone is worthless.” The thicker the blanket, the better.


Community members can also sign up for CODERED, where they will get official word from the Emergency Management Office on emergency events taking place, as well as information from the weather service. People can register through this link or text “BrownCountyWI” to 99411.