CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced measures being taken by Illinois state agencies to prepare for the additional snowfall that is forecast for the next several days. He also urged residents to follow recommended winter safety procedures, including being careful when shoveling and checking on neighbors during the snowy weather. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to keeping all Illinois residents safe and warm this winter.
“Our public safety workers have been up to the task to keep people safe during this extreme winter weather,” Governor Quinn said. “As we prepare for another round of snow, I urge all motorists to drive with extreme caution and pay careful attention to others on the road.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Tollway have their crews working around the clock to keep roads clear and passable. Motorists are urged to drive defensively and safely, travel only if absolutely necessary, slow down and buckle up. In addition, a new state law prohibits motorists from talking on all but hands-free mobile phones while driving.
Other roadway safety tips to remember:
- Don’t crowd snowplows – an operator’s field of vision is restricted.
- Allow extra time for travel during the winter months.
- Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous. Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas – all are prone to black ice, which is often invisible.
- Pull over and dial *999 for emergency roadway assistance.
Check travel and road conditions routinely before any trip. You can get road condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling 1-800-TOLL-FYI or online at www.gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will continue to monitor the winter weather conditions throughout Illinois and stands ready to activate emergency state resources if necessary. IEMA also advises every household to have a disaster preparedness kit that will help residents stay safe for at least three days. The kits should include a battery-powered NOAA weather radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, extra medications and special items needed for babies, disabled or elderly family members and pets.
If you must travel, IEMA and IDOT recommend you equip your vehicle with an emergency supply kit to keep you safe in case you are stranded along the road. A vehicle preparedness kit should include a cell phone and charger, flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit, snack foods and water, blankets, extra warm clothing, gloves and hats, sand or kitty litter, shovel, windshield scraper, booster cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid and a tool kit. Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
Before you depart, check weather and road conditions along your route and provide your planned route to a family member or friend. If conditions are dangerous, postpone travel until road conditions improve. IEMA and the National Weather Service have developed a Winter Weather Preparedness Guide that contains many more tips about winter weather safety. The guide is available at the Ready Illinois website at Ready.Illinois.Gov.
Residents are urged to take advantage of the state’s warming centers. These include the Illinois Tollway Oases, which are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On weekdays, Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout the state are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. To find a warming center near you, call the IDHS hotline at (800) 843-6154 or visit KeepWarm.Illinois.gov.
The Illinois Department on Aging is encouraging relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. Older people are more susceptible to the cold, so seniors should set their thermostats above 65 degrees. Those particularly vulnerable are older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition, or who have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson's disease.
Tips to staying safe and warm in winter conditions:
- Dress in layers, both indoors and outdoors.
- Keep active. Make a list of exercises and activities to do indoors when you can’t get out.
- Eat well and drink 10 glasses of water daily; stock up on non-perishable food supplies, just in case.
- Keep extra medications in the house. If this is not possible, make arrangements to have someone pick up and deliver your medications.
- Do not shovel snow or walk in deep snow. Plan now for someone else to shovel the snow. The strain from the cold and hard labor could cause a heart attack; sweating can lead to a chill and even hypothermia.
Additionally, shoveling snow is hard work and you should not shovel snow unless you are in good physical condition. Cold weather itself, without any physical exertion, puts an extra strain on your heart. Know your limits when shoveling snow. Rest frequently and pace yourself. If you become breathless, stop, go indoors and warm up before continuing. If you experience chest or arm pain or numbness, stop immediately and go indoors.