Weather Extremes - Extreme Temperatures

Extreme Temperatures

Click here to sign up for Extreme Weather Alerts!  With this, you can be advised by the city when extreme heat or extreme cold are expected, giving you additional time to prepare yourself, your home and your family.

Extreme Heat

During the summer months, the temperature in Chicago can reach dangerous levels.  With the heat index and the heat island effect, temperatures can be particularly hazardous for children, the elderly and those with special needs and pets.  In addition to discomfort and fatigue, extremely high temperatures can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  To protect yourself, your family and your neighbors, please familiarize yourself with the following terms and symptoms.

Infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, who are overweight, people who are ill or on certain medications, and pregnant people are at higher risk for heat-related illness. In some cases, exposure to excess heat has been linked to poor birth outcomes. Pregnant people should avoid extreme heat, stay well hydrated and follow the advice of their medical providers.

In extreme heat:

  • Stay out of the sun. If you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15).
  • Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.
  • Consume plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids. Water, diluted juices and electrolyte solutions are best. Stay away from carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • If you are on a fluid-restricted diet or taking diuretics, consult your doctor
  • Stay in the shade or under awnings as much as possible.
  • Keep rooms well ventilated with air conditioners and fans.
  • Keep your windows open if you don't have a fan or air conditioning.
  • Cool down with periodic cool baths or showers.
  • Take advantage of city cooling centers, public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls.
  • Never leave children, the elderly, or those who require special care periods of intense summer heat.
  • Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, young children, and people with special needs or live alone.
  • Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives periodically throughout the day
  • Seek help if you feel symptoms of heat-related illnesses
  • Find a cooling center near you by calling 311 or checking the City of Chicago website.
  • Link to DFSS Cooling Centers


Extreme Cold

Chicago is famous for its cold winters. The lake effect causes already cold weather to feel even colder with wind-chill factors that can drive temperatures well below zero, causing possible frostbite or hypothermia.

In extreme cold:

  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing
  • Wear mittens instead of gloves
  • Wear water-repellant clothing
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs
  • Wear a hat
  • Make sure small children, infants and the elderly stay warm. They are much more vulnerable to the cold weather.
  • Take advantage of city warming centers, public park facilities and heated stores and malls.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages Where possible, try and keep one room in your home heated to 70 degrees.
  • Eat high energy foods and drink warm beverages.
  • Beware of over-exertion; shoveling snow or pushing disabled cars can be very demanding, and should only be done by individuals in good health.

Safe heating tips:

  • If your heat does not work or you have no heat contact your building owner. If heat is not restored or installed, call 311 to report it.
  • Electric heaters can be hazardous and should be used with extreme caution to prevent shock, fire and burns. Follow the usage instructions carefully and keep clothing and blankets clear of any heating elements.
  • Be very careful in using fireplaces, making sure flues are clear. Proper ventilation is essential and charcoal should not be used.
  • Gas ovens and burners should never be used to heat your home.

Safe use of the car in cold weather:

  • Make sure your car is in good operating condition before using it in extreme cold.
  • Keep water out of your gas tank by keeping the tank as full as possible.
  • Maintain in your car a storm kit with such items as blankets; extra clothing; jumper cables; a flashlight; high-calorie, non-perishable food; and matches or a lighter.
  • Drive with care and plan your trip. If cold, snowy or icy conditions exceed your ability or your car's ability, don't travel.


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