As the snow storm has moved on and the abnormally cold temperatures set in, I want to provide you an update on the City’s efforts to respond to the extreme weather conditions.
The unrelenting snowstorm has finally passed and City snowplows have cleared the arterial streets and are now concentrating on the residential streets. Unfortunately, road salt does not melt snow and ice easily at these extremely cold temperatures, so I advise you to exercise extreme caution when driving or walking.
The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) is extending the hours today and tomorrow at its six community service centers and six senior centers, which will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to provide a refuge from the cold. The community service center closest to the 49th Ward is the North Community Service Center at 848 W. Wilson and nearest senior center is the Northeast Senior Center at 2019 W. Lawrence.
Other warming centers include the 24th District police station at 6464 N. Clark, the Loyola Park Fieldhouse at 1230 W. Greenleaf, the Warren Park Fieldhouse at 6601 N. Western and the Rogers Park Public Library branch at 6907 N. Clark. The police station, of course, is open 24 hours a day. The Park District facilities are open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and the Rogers Park branch is open today (Monday) from 12 noon until 8:00 p.m. and tomorrow from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The department has also established a coordinated effort and made arrangements with its shelter partners to increase outreach efforts to assist residents in need such as the homeless and seniors. Those facilities will operate continuously, around the clock, through Tuesday. DFSS and shelter partners will add one outreach team–two per shift–increasing capacity for shelter placement and well-being checks. Additional staff will be directed to conduct street outreach checking on homeless. Shelter partners are also prepared to add more than 100 shelter beds as needed.
If you are seeking a warm place, or know someone in need of shelter, call my Ward Service Office at 773-338-5796 and we will work with DFSS to provide assistance. If someone is unable to get to a warming center or shelter on their own, we will work with DFSS to make transportation arrangements. My office will also work with DFSS to arrange for well-being checks for at risk residents or to request any other necessary City service.
As you know, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are closed today. The following was a notice sent from has announced they will close tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 6. The following is a notice sent from CPS:
“All Chicago Public Schools will be closed on Monday, January 6th, due to the extreme cold temperatures and high winds that have been forecasted. District officials have been monitoring the expected weather and it will be dangerously cold for children to be going to and from school in the forecasted subzero temperatures and high winds.
“For families seeking alternative youth programs and services, all Chicago Park District facilities will be open during their normal operating hours. These times vary, so please check on the Chicago Park District website or by calling the specific park.
Classes will likely resume on Tuesday as normal, but CPS will continue to monitor the situation and will make that determination on Monday.
“You will find recorded updates on our hotlines at 773-553-1000 or 773-553-3100. Please help ensure this important information is heard by all parents and pass this on to your friends and family with children in CPS. Thank you and please stay safe these next several days.”
The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend that residents use space heaters, but acknowledges that people may rely on them during cold winter months. To minimize the dangers of space heaters, the Fire Department recommends using only heaters that are UL certified as safe. Never use an extension cord with a space heater, which can cause the cord to overheat and burn. Also, never allow a space heater within three feet of anything that can burn, especially bedding.
Sadly, many fires are started because children have moved a space heater closer to their bed for more heat after parents have gone to bed for the night. Residents should also check and replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, especially this close to the holiday season. Batteries may have been borrowed for new electronics or toys.”
The City of Chicago experienced 16 deaths due to fire in 2013, the lowest annual total ever recorded. If working smoke detectors had been in place in every building, the number of deaths in 2013 may have been even lower.
Of the 16 deaths, 12 occurred in buildings without working detectors. Chicago requires landlords to make sure every residential unit has at least one detector for each floor with a bedroom and residents are required to maintain detectors with batteries as needed.”
Fire officials also encouraged residents to check to ensure their carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. With furnaces running during normal cold weather, a small carbon monoxide leak might not be noticed, but with heaters running non-stop to match the extreme cold, that small leak could become a deadly source of fumes. Carbon Monoxide detectors are designed to alert you before you feel sick, so if yours goes off, get fresh air immediately and call 911.
The Chicago Department of Public Health reminds residents to take extra precautions to stay warm and avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Residents should avoid unnecessary trips outside, and if it is necessary to go outside, wear several loose fitting layers of warm clothing. When shoveling snow, work slowly and take frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion. Be sure to winterize your home and vehicles, and keep cell phones charged with extra batteries for emergencies.
During extreme weather, the Department of Buildings focuses its efforts on complaints from tenants regarding inadequate heat and reassigns inspectors to make sure these complaints are dealt with as quickly as possible.
If you are a tenant without adequate heat, you should first contact your landlord. If he or she fails to address the issue, then call my office at 773-338-5796 or 311 to report the issue. The City of Chicago Heat Ordinance requires the temperature inside a rental residence to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and 66 degrees at night. Landlords face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation, for each day they do not supply adequate heat.
The Department of Water Management is adding crews during the extreme cold to address any issues with fire hydrants or water leaks. To avoid frozen water pipes in your home, keep a trickle of water running and allow warm air to heated areas where pipes are exposed. Under no circumstances should you use open flames on frozen pipes, as this can create a fire hazard.
Please call my Ward Service Office at 773-338-5796 to report any water leaks in streets parkways or fire hydrants.
If you have a disability, you should consider the types of equipment and resources you may need should there be a power outage or if you become stranded in your home for several days. You should have an emergency plan for a respirator or electrical-powered medical equipment and spare batteries for a wheelchair. It is also important to have several days’ worth of medications on hand, both prescription and non-prescription.
If accessible transportation is needed, have a plan in place should you need to leave your premises. Also, make sure that you have several days of supplies for any service animals that you may have. Maintain contact with your network of family and friends. Finally, sign-up for the Voluntary Emergency Assistance Registry at www.cityofchicago.org/voluntaryregistry to help first responders know what type of assistance you may need.
Due to the weather, Chicago’s bike-sharing program, Divvy, is closed and will re-open after the extreme weather passes. Members will be informed of re-opening via email, and any questions about whether the system is open or closed can be answered with by a service representative at 855-55-DIVVY (855-553-4889).
Regardless of the issue, do not hesitate to call my office if we can be of assistance. In the meantime, stay safe and indoors if at all possible.