December 26, 2017

City Officials Offer Chicagoans Tips, Resources During Cold Snap

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Officials from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), Chicago Department of Health (CDPH) and other City departments and sister agencies today reminded residents about City-offered services during the winter months and provided residents with tips to avoid weather and health emergencies during cold and extreme weather. Those seeking access to warming centers and/or experiencing insufficient heat are encouraged to contact 3-1-1 for immediate assistance.

"Bitter cold temperatures are more than an inconvenience, they pose a serious threat to health and safety," said OEMC Executive Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. "As always, we encourage residents to take the necessary precautions to keep safe, including dressing appropriately for the weather and driving according to conditions."

According to Accuweather, below normal temperatures are expected for the next few days. Today will be dry and very cold with wind chills between -10 and 0 degrees; Tuesday night will be frigid with wind chills as low as -15 degrees. Wednesday will also be dry and very cold, with wind chills as low as 0 degrees. The City will continue to monitor conditions to prepare for and respond to extreme weather as early as possible.

Cold-Weather Tips
Motorists should take extra precautions to winterize vehicles and have necessary supplies on-the-go. Keep in mind, disabled vehicles or distracted driving can cause accidents, impact traffic and others or requiring emergency services.

As many are out and about for the holiday season, it’s important to stay informed of changing conditions and heed warnings and advisories. Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia. Winter preparation information is available at alertchicago.com including links to other local, state and federal resources.

As the city braces for extremely cold conditions, CDPH makes these simple suggestions to help keep residents safe:

  • Avoid unnecessary trips outside-if you must go out, limit the time you stay outside;
  • Wear several layers of loose, warm clothing;
  • Keep your head, hands and feet covered when outdoors;
  • Stay dry, because moisture can damage the insulating effectiveness of clothing;
  • Pay extra attention to your daily needs: get enough sleep, eat high energy foods, drink warm beverages to help your body stay warm, and avoid alcoholic beverages;
  • Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia: stiff muscles, shivering, puffy or swollen face, cold skin, slow breathing and mental confusion.
  • If you go out into the cold, limit the time you stay outside. Break longer tasks into shorter ones, with indoor rest periods in between. Do not let children play outside for long periods of time.

DFSS offers a range of services to assist some of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents, including shelter for homeless residents, warming centers and well-being checks.

City officials encourage those seeking access to warming centers and/or experiencing insufficient heat to visit any of DFSS’ six regional Community Service Centers that double as warming centers. These Community Service Centers are open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie, is open on a 24-hour basis to connect families and residents to emergency shelters.

City officials also ask residents to check on neighbors and family during periods of extreme cold weather. DFSS provides well-being checks for vulnerable residents who may need assistance, including homeless residents, elderly and individuals with disabilities. DFSS outreach workers will also be proactively engaging homeless residents to encourage individuals to accept shelter.

To request shelter, information on a warming center, or a well-being check, residents can call 3-1-1, or visit https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/emerg/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html for more information.

Information for Homeowners and Renters
The Chicago Heat Ordinance mandates that landlords supply heat to rental units during cold weather months. The Heat Ordinance mandates that during cold weather months, landlords supply heat to rental units or to any unit where owners do not have individual control of the heat. From September 15 through June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Per the Heat Ordinance residents may contact 3-1-1 operators to file a heat complaint, which will signal an inspector from the Department of Buildings (DOB) to assess a caller's building and heating system immediately. Landlords face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation, for each day they do not supply adequate heat. The reason for lack of heat does not matter -- landlords must follow the law, and apartments must be heated.

The Chicago Department of Water Management (DWM) encourages residents let faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing through the pipes to prevent freezing. If pipes do freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them; instead, use a hair dryer or heating pad.

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) 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. With the added demand on furnaces and boilers, CFD also reminds residents are required by ordinance to have working carbon monoxide detectors to protect against carbon monoxide leaks from a heating system that could be fatal over time.

Information for Travelers, Public Transportation Users
The Chicago Department of Aviation 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 a scheduled domestic flight, or three hours ahead for an international flight. Travelers are encouraged to check for updates by following O’Hare’s Facebook page or Twitter account @fly2ohare and Midway’s Facebook page or Twitter account @fly2midway, in addition to their website, www.FlyChicago.com.

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. CTA also encourages customers to sign up at www.transitchicago.com for free subscription service alerts to be notified of service changes or issues.

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