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CHICAGO – During Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois, and as the City prepares for the winter season during the COVID-19 pandemic; the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) is advising residents and businesses to consider how the cold temperatures and changing weather to come will impact their planning and take precautions now to get ready, especially given the challenges of the pandemic.
“OEMC is dedicated to ensure the City of Chicago is prepared for the winter season, particularly during the COVID pandemic,” said OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. “We will continue to monitor weather conditions with the National Weather Service and coordinate response efforts with City departments and public partners to keep residents safe and informed.”
OEMC hosted a Winter Weather Workshop in October with public safety, infrastructure and other departments and agencies to plan the coordination of operations for the winter months ahead.
Severe cold temperatures, strong winds and snow can cause additional hazards, whether home or traveling, so it’s important to stay informed. OEMC issues several alerts and notifications to keep people up to date on weather conditions and emergencies.
Department of Streets and Sanitation
The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) manages more than 9,400 lane miles of roadway and maintains a fleet of over 300 snow vehicles that are fully prepared to respond if needed. In addition, DSS has over 400,000 tons of salt stationed at salt piles throughout the city.
Winter Overnight Parking Ban
The City’s winter overnight parking ban goes into effect on December 1st. This ban restricts parking on 107 miles of critical roadways during the hours of 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. to ensure that our crews can quickly salt and plow the streets during a winter storm. Residents are encouraged to check the posted street signs for parking restrictions.
Chicago Department of Public Health
As the City braces for cold temperatures and winter weather, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) would like to caution residents to take care of themselves, and to also provide assistance to neighbors, family members, pets and friends, particularly those who are elderly, have disabilities and/or live alone. Taking preventative action is the best way to stay safe from the serious health risks associated with winter weather. Residents are advised to limit their time outside, wear layers of warm clothing when going outside, and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. As a reminder, under Chicago’s Stay-at-Home Advisory, residents should:
CDPH is also reminding residents that it’s not too late to get a flu shot. The combination of flu and COVID-19 could overwhelm healthcare settings. We all need to do our part to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses and help conserve potentially scarce health resources in hospitals already caring for COVID-19 patients. Residents can find flu shot locations at chicago.gov/flu.
Department of Family and Support Services Warming Areas
The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) activates warming areas at the City’s six community service centers when temps are at 32 degrees or below.
Chicago Fire Department Winter Preparedness Safety Tips
The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend 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. Those seeking access to warming centers and/or experiencing insufficient heat are encouraged to contact 3-1-1 for immediate assistance. Also, be sure to keep smoke detectors in working order.
Department of Water Management
The Department of Water Management reminds residents to prevent frozen pipes, make sure that warm air is circulating throughout the home and keep a trickle of water running. If pipes freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them. Use a hair dryer or heating pad. For more info visit www.chicago.gov/water
National Weather Service
The National Weather Service in Chicago suggests keeping an eye on the forecast even 3-5 days out and consider how the expected conditions will impact you and how you can prepare. As winter weather develops and situations are updated, it’s even more important to know what actions are needed when advisories and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service.
Peoples Gas Cold Weather Tips and COVID-19 Financial Assistance
Make sure you're ready to heat your home safely this winter. Have your furnace inspected by a qualified technician and follow these safety steps throughout the heating season, Please call us immediately at 866- 556-6002 if you think you may have a natural gas emergency. For safety tips and additional details, visit PeoplesGasDelivery.com/safety/cold-weather
Peoples Gas has voluntarily suspended residential disconnections for the remainder of November. From Dec. 1 to March 31, the annual winter moratorium will protect residential customers from natural gas disconnections. Additionally, extended payment arrangements and financial assistance for relief to customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more by visiting, PeoplesGasDelivery.com/payment-bill/assistance or call 866-556-6000.
For additional information on emergency preparedness information, visit our website at Chicago.gov/OEMC. Follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications on
Facebook, Twitter (@ChicagoOEMC) and Instagram (chicago_oemc_911) using the hashtags
#ChicagoOEMC #Smart911 #Chicago911 #BeSafeChicago.