Chilly weather brings storm of precautions

By Dave Gomez

Illinois authorities are advising citizens to prepare for chilly weather and subzero temperatures this winter season.

“There hasn’t been a winter in Illinois without a severe storm in the past century,” said William Burke, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. “Even though winter weather in Illinois varies from north to south, it’s important that everyone be prepared because we’ve seen snow and ice cause problems everywhere, even in southern Illinois.”

Burke said people should take steps to prepare, such as purchasing home survival kits in case of heavy snowstorms or icy conditions.

The kits should include items such as non-perishable food, bottled water, a radio and batteries, Burke said.

Temperatures in Chicago dropped as low as 7 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in 2003 and as low as 37 below zero in 1999.

Preventing fires also is a problem during winter. December through February is the busiest time of year for house fires, according to the DeKalb Fire Department.

“Nobody should ever go to sleep without a working smoke detector,” DeKalb Fire Chief Lanny Russell said.

“One of the concerns that firefighters everywhere have is that people will use unconventional means to heat their house,” Russell said.

Russell advised against using open flames, such as gas stoves, to heat homes.

People also should take extra precautions when using devices, such as space heaters, for supplemental heat, Russell said.

The devices should have a seal of approval from Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product testing organization which tests electrical equipment for safety compliances.

People also should read directions closely and keep flammable objects away from space heaters, Russell said.

Recommended winter survival kit

– 72-hour supply of non-perishable food

– Bottled water

– First-aide kit

– Battery operated radio

– Flashlight and extra batteries

– Blankets or sleeping bags

– Necessary medications

– Knife

– Extra clothing to keep dry

– A large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes

– Smaller can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water

– Sack of sand (or cat litter)

– Shovel

– Windshield scraper and brush

– Tool kit

– Tow rope

– Jumper cables

– Compass and road maps

Source: Illinois Emergency Management Agency