Local officials offer tips for bracing cold weather

Subzero temperatures expected to hit Saturday night

Although La Crosse residents are no strangers to cold temperatures, the upcoming forecast has many local officials reminding people there are some easy things they can do to stay safe.

Brenda Lutz-Hanson with La Crosse Health Services said it hasn’t been this cold in a long time. 

“From the information that we saw this morning, we haven’t seen temperatures this cold for 18 years,” said Lutz-Hanson.

She is reminding everyone to take precautions.

“We are talking about very extreme temperatures, so when we expose ourselves to those temperatures for a length of time, your own body temperature is going to lower because the wind and coldness is basically taking the heat off of you,”said Lutz-Hanson.

When you are exposed to subzero temperatures, it makes it easier to suffer from frostbite or hypothermia.


Keith Butler with La Crosse Emergency Management said the brutal temperatures don’t take long to impact the body.

“Skin exposed to dangerous wind chills, 45-50 below like we are expecting, will freeze in about 5-10 minutes,” said Butler.

The wind chill raises big concerns for those who are traveling this weekend.

“I think we are used to it.  We say, ‘Oh it is winter in Wisconsin.’ But if your car gets stuck or you don’t have the opportunity to get warmed up or you don’t have reliable transportation, you are at risk,” said Lutz-Hanson.

Butler said the extreme cold we are about to see is the worst situation for automobile travel.

“It is hard on batteries and it is hard on engines.  Everything just suffers greatly because of this intensely cold area,” said Butler.

That is why Butler suggests having a winter weather kit in your vehicle that includes spare mittens, clothing and a blanket.

“Those are the kinds of things that can sustain you until help can arrive,” said Butler.

However, Butler’s best advice this weekend is to just stay at home.

“It is basically an individual matter.  If you choose to go out in that cold weather on Monday, you could be in tough shape in a hurry.  We will help you if we can, but the better advice is don’t go outside if you don’t have to,” said Butler.

Butler also advises homeowners to make sure their carbon monoxide detector is working, With the furnaces running full time, it is important to be alerted if there is a problem.

It is also a good reminder to keep your pets inside as the brutal temperatures creep into the area.