OEMC News Affairs
City Departments Remind Residents to be Prepared for Winter
Take Precaution Before and During Cold Weather
CHICAGO – The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Department of Streets and Sanitation, other city departments and sister agencies today outlined their readiness to provide services during the winter months and provided residents with tips to avoid weather and health emergencies during cold and extreme temperatures.
OEMC urges residents to prepare for cold temperatures and snowy conditions throughout the winter by taking steps, such preparing emergency kits for residences and vehicles and stocking up on necessities,which will help in emergency situations or if weather conditions become dangerous.
“As we have seen with recent weather emergencies on the East Coast, dealing with extreme weather is not just preparing for an emergency situation, but also having a plan of action in responding and recovering from that situation,” said OEMC Executive Director Gary W. Schenkel. “City departments are prepared to clean streets of snow and perform well being checks this winter in all weather conditions,and we ask residents to help prepare for winter, check on their neighbors during time extreme temperature and to call for assistance when necessary.”
The National Weather Service is predicting near to above average snowfall and near to below average temperatures for this winter season; however, the City of Chicago continues to implement, coordinate and improve plans to adapt to changing conditions and to keep residents of Chicago safe in the winter season.
The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is prepared to keep Chicago’s 4,100 miles of roadway clear of snow and ice and safe for motorists this winter. The department maintains a fleet of 284 snow vehicles, including 20 new trucks that have been serviced and staged in anticipation of the first snow fall. In addition, the department has replenished all 19 salt piles throughout the city and currently has approximately 285,000 tons of salt in reserve for the season.
The City will also be relaunching www.ChicagoShovels.org where Chicagoans can access Plow Tracker to see the location of plows in real-time during a storm and sign up to volunteer with the Snow Corp program which helps to pair volunteers with elderly residents or people with disabilities who require assistance to shovel their sidewalks.
Motorists are advised of Chicago's Overnight Parking Ban that will be enforced beginning Saturday,December 1, 2012, through Monday, April 1, 2013, 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., regardless of snow. The Overnight Parking Ban impacts approximately 107 miles of Chicago’s streets and signage is permanently posted along the affected routes. Violators are subject to a minimum towing fee of $150, a $60 ticket and a minimum daily storage fee of $10.
Additionally, the City advises motorists of the parking restriction that may be enacted when two inches or more of snowfall have accumulated. This restriction affects an additional 500 miles of permanently posted main streets, and violators are subject to ticketing and vehicle relocation.
Officials remind residents to be cognizant of weather conditions, heed the warnings given by experts,know the implications of wind chill advisories, winter storm watches and warnings. Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia. Officials advise to winterize your home and vehicles, and keep cell phones charged with extra batteries for emergencies. Additional winter preparation information is available at www.alertchicago.com, including links to other local, state and federal resources.
The Chicago Department of Water Management suggests to act now to make sure pipes in your home are properly insulated and not exposed to freezing air. This includes pipes in garages and unheated areas of the home. If your pipes do freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them. Use a hair dryer or heating pad.
The Chicago Heat Ordinance mandates that landlords supply heat to rental units during cold weather months. From September 15 to June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence must be at least 68 degrees during the day. During the evening, the temperatures must be at least 66 degrees. The Department of Buildings encourages residents to first contact their landlords when these temperatures are not maintained and to call 3-1-1 if no action is being taken. During extreme cold weather, however, the Building Department’s first priority is responding to heat complaints and it reassigns inspectors to handle the increased number of heat complaints.
The Chicago Fire Department does not recommended using space heaters; however, if used, be sure they are UL certified and at least 3 feet from anything that can ignite. Use of a space heater in children’s rooms should be monitored closely as children sometimes move them close to or into the bed with tragic results. If extension cords are used, they should be rated at 15 amps minimum and never put cords under carpet.
In heavy snow, the Chicago Fire Department asks that residents shovel around hydrants so the Fire Department can find them and hook a hose up faster in the event of a fire. Don’t park within 15 feet of hydrants - the house you save could be your own!
The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) operates six Community Service Centers located throughout the city that double as warming centers on weekdays during the winter months when temperatures fall below 32 degrees. These Community Service Centers are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.One of these facilities, the Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie, is open on a 24-hour basis. Please note that the Englewood Community Service Center, which houses a warming center, is now located at 1140 W. 79th Street.
On evenings, weekends or holidays, City-operated facilities, including libraries, park facilities and police stations might also serve as warming centers if they are needed. And during the weekdays, DFSS also operates the City’s six Regional Senior Centers and 15 Satellite Senior Centers where seniors can go to keep warm in addition to taking part in numerous activities. The best thing to do if you are seeking a warm place to go after hours is to call 3-1-1. Seniors or individuals with limited mobility may call 3-1-1 to request a ride to any of our centers. And individuals requiring emergency overnight shelter should also call 3-1-1.
Information and multilingual fliers containing warming center information in English, Spanish and Polish are posted on DFSS's home page and Facebook page (www.cityofchicago.org/fss and www.facebook.com/chicagoDFSS).
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) reminds those with travel plans through O’Hare or Midway International Airports to check their airline’s website for flight status before going to the airport and to plan to arrive at least two hours in advance of their scheduled flight. When severe weather causes significant delays and cancellations at the airports, travelers can receive airport-wide delay and cancellation updates by following O’Hare’s Facebook page or Twitter account @fly2ohare and Midway’s Facebook page or Twitter account @fly2midway.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) staff is extensively trained on handling winter weather operations and will, working closely with OEMC and other City agencies, carefully monitor weather and traffic conditions to quickly adapt transit operations to changing circumstances. What’s more, CTA buses and rail system are equipped with features designed to mitigate the effects of cold temperatures and snow.CTA is also prepared to communicate timely service information to customers in the event of unplanned changes or significant delays in service through informational displays at rail stations and select bus stops; and through social media (Twitter and Facebook) and CTA’s web site.We also encourage customers to sign up at transitchicago.com for our free subscription service alerts to be notified of service changes or issues.
Peoples Gas suggests the following winter weather safety tips for residents:
OEMC encourages families to keep an emergency kit at home and on-the-go and to keep informed of weather conditions throughout the season. For more winter weather preparedness tips, visit www.AlertChicago.com and to receive Chicago emergency and non-emergency notifications, register at www.NotifyChicago.org.
The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) manages incidents, coordinates events,operates communications systems, and provides technology, among other forms of support, to City services to strengthen their respective missions and to protect lives and property in the City of Chicago. OEMC is also the host to Notify Chicago, a resource for residents to subscribe to receive text and voice alerts related to traffic disruptions,severe weather, health and major incidents. For more information visit our website at www.cityofchicago.org/oemc or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook/coemc