Now that the ice and snow have stopped falling, the next concern is the bitter cold. The low temperature could possibly set a record for this date in Springfield this weekend.

That creates a dangerous situation.  Hypothermia and frostbite are real concerns. Health experts say this is something you should take seriously.

Even if you love this winter wonderland, you need to take precautions. Health experts say you should only be out if you must.

“The best treatment is prevention. Pay attention to the forecast. Dress warm. If you have to be out and in a remote area, always have an emergency plan setup before you head out,” said Dr. Eric Luehr, an emergency room physician at Mercy Springfield.

Hypothermia has different levels. People with minor cases just need to warm up inside.

“Prolonged times, when you can't feel sensation or develop blisters and can't feel fingers and toes, you should seek attention,” said Luehr.

The bottom line is: stay warm and listen to your body.

“Play attention to your body. If you are cold or shivering, get inside get out of the cold,” said Luehr.

Hypothermia is also a concern for animals.  You should make sure your pets and livestock have a warm place at night.

Being prepared also means being safe, especially when it comes to heating your home.  Firefighters say you should use caution if you plan to plug in a space heater.

“People start to supplement their home heating with other appliances. We don't recommend space heaters as a main source, but as a supplement to your heat,” said Springfield Fire Marshal Phil Noah.

If you use a space heater, make sure it has a safety tip-over switch.  Keep it three feet away from combustible materials.  Also, don't use an extension cord; instead, plug it directly into the wall.

If you build a fire in your fireplace, make sure your chimney is clean to prevent a flue fire.

Firefighters say always operate generators outside your house and don't put them in a garage.

So far this fall, three house fires were caused by an additional heat source in Springfield.