November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month; Get Ready Now for the Upcoming Winter Season

November 5, 2021

The City’s winter overnight parking ban will be in effect starting Wednesday, December 1, 2021

With the recent drop in temperatures, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) continues to make public safety our top priority. Staying safe during the winter months requires taking steps now to winterize our homes and cars and prepare our families when the cold, wind, ice, and snow comes our way. November is Winter Weather Preparedness month and a good time to get ready.

“OEMC reminds residents to prepare now for the Winter season,” said OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. “OEMC will continue to monitor conditions throughout the season and issue notifications to ensure that the public is informed of weather advisories and warnings. OEMC will coordinate the City’s response during any emergencies and extreme weather conditions that may come our way. We are committed to working with departments citywide to assist residents and vulnerable populations heading into the winter season”

Stay Informed
OEMC will keep the public informed when certain thresholds set by the National Weather Service are reached. These triggers are as follows:
• Winter Weather Advisory: Potentially dangerous winter weather is expected within the next 12-36 hours; Travel difficulties expected.
• Winter Storm Warning: Dangerous winter weather is expected in the next 12-36 hours or is occurring; Travel problems are expected.
• Blizzard Warning: Severe winter weather is expected in the next 12-36 hours or is occurring – including white out conditions. Do not travel.

Get ready now for winter conditions for your family, home, and vehicles. 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.
• Notify Chicago: Sign up for emergency alerts at www.NotifyChicago.org
• CHILAKE: For lakefront notices including flooding, 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

Smart911
This Winter, it’s important to create a SMART911 profile to provide 9-1-1 with emergency information specific to you and your household that can get you the help you need in an emergency. It’s a free and safe service. The Smart911 platform also has a new feature to assist the Chicago Police Department in better serving Chicago communities. Residents with a Smart911 safety profile who have a home surveillance camera that captures the public way can partner with the Chicago Police Department in the event that a crime occurs in their neighborhood. By simply opting in on an existing Smart911 profile or by creating a new profile, residents can volunteer to share home surveillance camera footage by allowing the Chicago Police Department to contact them in the event of a crime. To sign up, visit Smart911.com.

Warming Centers
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.
• The warming areas are open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• On evenings, weekends or holidays, city-operated facilities including libraries and park facilities might also serve as warming areas, if needed.
• Residents must wear a face covering while in the warming areas.
• The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie, is open on a 24-hour basis to connect families and residents to emergency shelter.
• Those seeking a warm place to go after hours can also call 3-1-1 to be connected with available services. Individuals requiring emergency overnight shelter should also call 3-1-1, visit 311.Chicago.gov or download the CHI311 app to ensure residents are aware of the City's designated warming areas. Residents are also encouraged to check on relatives, neighbors and friends during a winter weather emergency.
• A list of community service center locations is available along with information and multilingual fliers containing warming center information in English, Spanish and Polish also are posted on DFSS's website at Chicago.gov/FSS.

Snow Command
The City’s winter overnight parking ban will be in effect starting Wednesday, December 1, 2021, to ensure the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) crews can quickly salt and plow the streets during a winter storm. The ban impacts approximately 107 miles of Chicago streets daily from 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., and signage is permanently posted along the affected routes. Residents are encouraged to check the posted street signs for parking restrictions. 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. DSS is also prepared with 425,000 tons of salt stationed at salt piles throughout the city.

The Department of Transportation (CDOT) encourages businesses and residents to clear snow from the sidewalk in front your residence or business and treat surfaces with salt. CDOT would like to remind business and property owners that when clearing snow off their property, it should not be pushed into a marked bike lane, crosswalk, or bus stop.

Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) is reminding business licensees that it is their duty to remove sidewalk snow and ice as outlined in the Municipal Code of Chicago 4-4-310. Each business must remove snow and ice from the sidewalk abutting the licensed premises and any sidewalk ramps intersecting such sidewalks, creating a clear path of at least five feet in width. Business owners that rent space adjacent to sidewalks are responsible for shoveling snow under the ordinance. Some landlords for commercial property hold tenants responsible for snow clearance as a part of their lease agreements, others do not. Renters who are not certain of their shoveling responsibilities should check their rental agreements or ask their landlords for clarification. Businesses that do not comply can face fines of up to $1,000 per day of violation.

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) reiterates that clearing sidewalks for people with mobility disabilities and seniors is critical. Also, know where the closest warming shelters are and check on your neighbors, particularly those with disabilities who may have limited resources or can’t easily get out of their homes.

Family and Home Safety
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 aid 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. CDPH is also reminding residents that it’s not too late to get a flu shot. 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.

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.

Peoples Gas advises that if you smell gas or think a gas line is damaged, leave the area immediately and call this number from a safe location: 866.556.6002
• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. It could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Have your boiler/furnace inspected regularly and make sure all natural gas appliances have proper ventilation. Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly. Understand the dangers and symptoms of carbon monoxide. Keep the area around your furnace and water heater free of clutter and flammable items.
• Gently remove snow and ice from outside natural gas meters by hand or with a broom to avoid damage to the equipment. Remove overhead icicles to prevent dripping water from refreezing on your natural gas meters and pipes. Keep your walkway leading to the meter clear for accessibility in an emergency.
• Peoples Gas is here to help customers struggling to keep up with bills. Go to peoplesgasdelivery.com or call us to discuss flexible payment plans and budget billing. Income-eligible customers may also qualify for financial assistance. To see if you are eligible and apply, call the Community Economic Development Association (CEDA) at 800-571-2332, or go to cedarorg.net.

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

Chicago Animal Care and Control reminds residents that winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:
• Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater or coat during walks.
• No matter what the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors.
• The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.
• Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
• Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
• It is strongly recommended to keep companion animals inside the home. If your dog must be an outdoor dog, however, it must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

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.
• Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia. For Winter preparation information visit, Chicago.gov/OEMC for details and links to other local, state and federal resources.
• Avoid unnecessary trips outside-if you must go out, limit the time you stay outside.
• Wear several layers of loose, warm cloth.
• Keep your head, hands and feet covered when outdoor.
• 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.

Report Suspicious Activity: If you See Something Say Something. The city reminds the public to be aware of their surroundings and to report suspicious activity. If you notice something suspicious, notify onsite security or call 9-1-1. If You See Something, Say Something™ is a national anti-terrorism public awareness campaign that emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.

For additional information on emergency preparedness information, visit the OEMC website at Chicago.gov/OEMC. Follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Facebook(@coemc), Twitter (@ChicagoOEMC) and Instagram (chicago_oemc_911).

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