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Extreme Cold

Illinois is famous for its cold winters. Heavy snow and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snow storm and low temperatures. The results can range from the havoc of cars trying to maneuver on ice-covered highways to isolation due to power outages and blocked roads. Whatever the case, winter storms can cause seasonal deaths and injuries.

Familiarize yourself with the following terms to stay alert and prepared

  • Wind Chill Advisory - dangerous wind chills of 15 below to 24 below zero are expected.

  • Wind Chill Warning - potentially life threatening wind chills of 25 below zero or colder are expected.

  • Frost Advisory - damaging frost is expected during the growing season.

  • Freeze Warning - below freezing temperatures are expected during the growing season.

  • Ice Storm Warning - dangerous accumulations of ice will occur and are expected to result in hazardous travel, extended power outages, and damage to trees.

  • Heavy Snow Warning - snow accumulations of six inches or greater, which will result in hazardous travel conditions.

  • Winter Weather Advisory - cold, ice, and/or snow (two to five inches) are expected.

  • Winter Storm Watch - severe winter weather, such as heavy snow or ice, is possible within the next day or two.

  • Winter Storm Warning - severe ice and/or snow (six inches or more) have begun or are about to begin.

  • Blizzard Warning - heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening travel conditions.

Extreme Cold Safety Tips
  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.

  • Wear mittens instead of gloves.

  • Wear water-repellent clothing.

  • Wear a hat.

  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

  • Make sure small children, infants, and the elderly stay warm. They are more vulnerable to the cold.

  • Take advantage of warming centers, public park facilities, and heated stores and malls.

  • Where possible, try to keep one room in your home heated to 68-70 degrees.

  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.

  • Eat high energy foods and drink warm beverages.

  • Beware of overexertion; shoveling snow or pushing disabled cars can be very strenuous and should only be done by individuals in good health.

  • Safe heating tips

  • Electric heaters can be hazardous and should be used with caution to prevent shock, fire, and burns. Follow the usage instructions carefully and keep clothing and blankets away from heating elements.

  • Carbon monoxide can kill. Be careful using fireplaces; make sure flues are clear and properly ventilated.

  • Gas ovens, burners, and charcoal should never be used to heat your home.

  • NEVER use generators in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.

Safe Use of the Car in Cold Weather
  • Make sure your car is in good operating condition before using it in extreme cold.

  • Keep condensation (water) out of your gas tank by keeping the tank as full as possible.

  • Maintain a storm kit in your car with items such as a cell phone and charger; blankets; extra clothing; jumper cables; a flashlight; high-calorie, non-perishable food; and matches or a lighter.

  • Plan your trip carefully. If cold, snowy, or icy conditions exceed your ability or your car's ability, don't travel.

  • Tell someone about your travel plans.

  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

More about Winter Storms
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