City of Chicago coordinated response to extreme winter weather

February 16, 2021

The City of Chicago would like to urge residents to take the necessary precautions and to plan accordingly as City crews respond to the recent extreme Winter weather that brought significant snow accumulation and prolonged cold temperatures. The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) is continuing to coordinate response efforts with the City’s public safety and infrastructure departments and public partners to keep residents safe and informed. 


Residents seeking City offered services, access to warming centers and/or experiencing insufficient heat are encouraged to visit a warming center below and/or contact 3-1-1 or visit for immediate assistance.  



OEMC issues several alerts and notifications to keep residents up to date on weather conditions and emergencies: 

  • Notify Chicago: Sign up for emergency alerts at 
  • CHILAKE: For lakefront notices, TEXT “CHILAKE” to 7-8-0-1-5 
  • COVID: Get COVID-19 updates by TEXTING “COVID19” to 6-7-2-8-3 
  • CHIBIZ: Business updates, TEXT “CHIBIZ” to 6-7-2-8-3 



The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) continued to respond to the winter storm with 400 snow vehicles. An additional 2"-3" of snow is anticipated throughout the day and into tomorrow morning. Snowplows will continue working with a focus on keeping the City’s arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive safe and passable for motorists and buses with the intention of transitioning to the residential streets this evening. 


Safety is the City's top priority. Though there are less motorist on the road, those who must travel are urged to take precaution when traveling during inclement weather and drive according to conditions. 


DSS reminds business owners to designate parking spaces for snow instead of pushing it into the street and for residents to put the snow in the parkway and not on the streets. 


DSS will have crews in every ward removing and relocating snow to predetermined City-owned lots. DSS will prioritize snow piles around schools, hospitals, fire departments and police stations. DSS also has reinforcement equipment coming in to help and will readjust as necessary. Residents are asked to keep children away from the large piles of snow as DSS relocates it. 


DSS manages more than 9,400 lane miles of roadway with a fleet of salt spreaders that are fully prepared to respond when needed. In addition, the Department has salt stationed at salt piles throughout the city 


To view the City’s snow fleet in real time visit 



Warming centers are safe spaces for refuge and relief from extreme cold weather. Cloth face coverings are required while in a warming center due to COVID-19 safety precautions. To locate a center nearby, residents can call City Services at 3-1-1 or visit To help ensure the privacy of residents, warming centers are closed to media. 


  • Overnight Warming Centers: The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Center at 4314 South Cottage Grove will be available overnight through 5 p.m. Friday, February 19.  


  • Weekday Warming Centers: All six of the City’s warming centers will be open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To locate a nearby center, residents should call 3-1-1 or visit the Department of Family and Support Services’ webpage at  


  • Chicago Cultural Center: The Cultural Center’s Randolph Square is open as a warming center throughout the week from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington. Guests must enter from the Randolph side of the building at 77 E. Randolph.  


  • Chicago Public Library: All 74 locations will serve as warming centers during regular operating hours. Locations and hours of operations located at 


  • Chicago Park District: All available Chicago Park District buildings will be open as warming centers during regular operating hours, with limited locations on the weekend. For participating parks and hours of operation, visit   


  • Chicago Police Department Districts: Residents in need can also visit their local Chicago Police District. They are open 24/7 as warming centers.  



The City of Chicago encourages residents to provide any needed assistance to neighbors, family members, the elderly and those most vulnerable. If you need to request a well-being check you can call 311, go to,or use the 311 mobile app.  


Residents in need of shelter placement 24/7 can call City Services at 3-1-1, visit or visit the Garfield Community Service Center at 10 S. Kedzie Avenue.  



The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) is coordinating with community-based outreach teams to engage unsheltered residents in shelter placement and transportation to warming areas. The outreach teams also provide residents with coats, blankets, gloves, hats, socks and more. 


DFSS is asking the public to refrain from bringing propane tanks to encampments. The Chicago Fire Department advises against dropping propane tanks to encampments due to unsafe hookups and high risk of explosion 


As the City experiences cold temperatures, the Chicago Department of Public Health 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.   

  • 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.   
  • 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 prevent others from accessing emergency services.   
  • Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia. For Winter preparation information visit, which includes links to other local, state and federal resources.   



The Department of Buildings (DOB) enforces the Chicago Building Code, which includes the Chicago Heat Ordinance. 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. With colder temperatures expected to continue through the weekend, later this week, please note that, from September 15 through June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 PM to 8:30 AM. Landlords face fines of up to $1000 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. If you are a renter and your landlord is not providing adequate heat or no heat at all, please contact 311 to file a complaint. The Department of Buildings will inspect your unit and we will take action against delinquent owners. DOB also routinely coordinates with other city departments when tenants require additional assistance, including the Department of Family and Support Services. 


In extreme temperatures, ice may form on building structures. Property owners and building managers are advised to cordon off the area and put caution signs warning of these conditions. Residents are cautioned to clear the snow away from front and back porches or decks, as the added weight of snow and ice could compromise these structures.  As building types, configurations, and materials vary, DOB advises building owners to monitor the ​impact of a large accumulation of snow and ice on their building structures and contact a licensed professional to assess and evaluate any concerns related to the building. 


As an important reminder, in cold weather and year-round, the Chicago Building Code mandates that landlords provide working smoke detectors for their tenants, and requires that tenants provide working batteries for the smoke detectors in their units.  



The Department of Water Management reminds residents make sure that warm air is circulating throughout the home and keep a trickle of water running in order to prevent frozen pipes. If pipes freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them. Instead use a hair dryer or heating pad. For more info visit   



The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) 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. The 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 that they 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, and to keep smoke detectors in working order. Have a plan on how to get out of your home and practice that plan should an emergency take place. If there are bedrooms in the basement or attic, please make sure that there is a way to get out, whether it is by window or door. And please be mindful of burglar bars and padlocks on doors and windows in rooms where people might be sleeping.   



Peoples Gas provides safe and reliable energy every day, but outages in extreme weather can happen. Be prepared by assembling an emergency kit with blankets, flashlights and battery-powered chargers for your cellphones. Open the curtains when the sun is out and use the sunlight to help warm your home. Close curtains on windows that don’t face the sun. Close all curtains at night to help retain heat and cut down on drafts from windows. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Not only is it inefficient, it could lead to CO poisoning. Keep the area around the furnace and water heater free of clutter. Never store flammable liquids near those areas. Taking these steps can help reduce the risk of fire and damage to the furnace.   



Severe weather can damage trees, power lines and other equipment and result in power outages. Should you experience an outage, it can be reported to ComEd in the following ways:   

  • Call 1-800-334-7661    
  • Text OUT to 26633    
  • Tweet #OUT to @ComEd    
  • Use the ComEd Mobile App    
  • Visit   


For additional information on emergency preparedness information, visit our website at Follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Facebook, Twitter (@ChicagoOEMC) and Instagram (chicago_oemc_911) using the hashtags #ChicagoOEMC #Smart911 #Chicago911 #BeSafeChicago.   


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