National Weather Services warns residents to take precautions in cold weather

This weekend's weather will bring extremely cold temperatures compounded with 20- to 30-mile-an-hour winds.

During a winter-weather webinar briefing from the National Weather Service (NWS), Dan Baumgardt, science and operations officer and meteorologist, commented that many younger people will have not seen this cold weather.

La Crosse NWS data went back to 1996 and 1994 to find temperatures that dipped as low as expected this weekend and into next week. The temperatures back then were easier to handle as a high pressure was over the area and there was minimal winds.

Take precautions

The coldest temperatures of minus 20s will occur on Sunday and into Monday; wind-chill temperatures are predicted to drop into the negative 40s, down to minus 50s in some areas.

The greatest danger to humans is frostbite that can occur in as little as five minutes in the cold; people walking out to get the mail or doing simple outside tasks can suffer if not properly prepared.

Livestock and pets will also suffer if proper care is not taken to care for them.

• It is suggested that unnecessary travel be avoided. If travel is necessary, make sure that vehicles are prepared for cold-weather travel. Take extra clothing and blankets in case of a breakdown; cell phones can become critical needs. Remember that cell phones can stop functioning if left exposed to extremely cold weather; keep the phone warm, such as close to the body in a holder or pocket.

• Advise someone that you are traveling, especially if going a distance, with your estimated arrival time and route of travel.

• If staying at home, remember that appliances such as furnaces and space heaters are working extra hard and may fail; some failures can result in fires. If you lose your major heat source, do not attempt to heat with ovens or stove tops. Also, do not attempt to use fuel-fired space heaters inside a home or in an attached area such as the garage.

• If you know of elderly people living alone, call or otherwise check on them to make sure they are warm and safe. A person falling outside without a way to call for help will be in critical danger in a matter of minutes.