Chicago area preps for coldest weather in three decades

Chicago is bracing for some of the coldest weather in 30 years.

Before the temperatures plunge to below freezing,  there are some things you can do to prepare for the deep freeze.

Plumbers say you can protect your pipes from freezing by letting water drip from one of your faucets.  They also suggest you open cabinets and crawl spaces to expose your pipes to ambient heat.

Auto mechanics have advice to protect your car from breaking down in the extreme cold.   They say you should check your battery, all your fluids and your tires.  They also recommend clearing off as much snow from your car as you can before the temperatures drop so that sun can get in.   They say the snow will be easier to remove when its warmer.

Helpful links:

School, organization and business closings: http://wgntv.com/closings

Full list of Cook County warming centers: http://wgntv.com/warmingcenters

Chicago Weather Center blog: http://blog.chicagoweathercenter.com

Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) Chief Operating Officer Dr. Terry Mason also issued some tips on how residents can take precautions against the dangerously cold temperatures expected in the coming days:

Stay prepared at home:

  • Do not use an oven as a heating device. Read directions before using space heaters and other portable heating units.
  • Make sure cracks in windows and doors are repaired. For a quick fix, use towels, rugs or newspapers.
  • Have bottled water, canned foods, flashlights and batteries on hand in case a winter storm keeps you indoors.
  • Residents who have no heat should check with their local municipality or township about warming centers.

Dress for the cold:

  • Wear a warm hat, and keep feet and hands warm and dry.
  • Cover as much of your face as possible while outside, breathe through a scarf to warm air before it enters your lungs.
  • Wear several layers of lightweight clothing, rather than one or two layers of heavy garments. The air between the garments acts as insulation to keep the body warmer.

Keep your vehicle prepared:

  • Allow extra time when traveling and start your journey with a full tank of gas.
  • Monitor weather conditions carefully and adhere to travel advisories.
  • Keep a winter storm kit in your car. This should include blankets, food, flares, chains, gloves and first aid supplies.

Stay healthy:

  • Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms:
  1. hypothermia: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering
  2. frostbite: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin
  • Drink warm, caffeine-free, non-alcoholic beverages to stay warm and hydrated.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about medications that could cause problems in cold weather.
  • The elderly and infants can be particularly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions; check often to make sure they are safe.

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