CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today urged people across Illinois to continue to take necessary precautions to stay safe and warm as the state continues to face a historic winter. As another major snowstorm approaches the area later today, strong measures are being taken by Illinois state agencies to continue keeping roads safe and clear. Today’s update is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to keeping all Illinois residents safe and warm this winter
“I urge everyone to take precautions at home and on the road as another major snowstorm heads our way,” Governor Quinn said. "If you must travel, please drive carefully. Our public safety workers have been working night and day to keep people safe and everyone must do their part to keep them safe as well."
The National Weather Service forecasts snow accumulations of five to nine inches throughout Illinois. Forecasters also warn of high winds up to 25 mph in some areas. The anticipated winter weather will create slick and dangerous travel conditions for motorists.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Tollway will have their crews working around the clock to keep roads clear and passable. IDOT is readying its fleet of 1,755 snowplows and 3,700 employees ahead of the next winter storm to remove snow and ice. The Tollway is assigning its full fleet of 182 snowplows and more than 200 workers per shift to clear the roads.
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. Roads may 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 gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.
The Illinois State Police has assisted hundreds of motorists and reminds motorists to continue to use caution, reduce speeds and allow extra time. Officials are also reminding the motoring public to be mindful of Scott's Law and to yield to emergency and heavy equipment on the interstates and roads. Any minor accidents not requiring emergency care can be reported within 10 days at the nearest police station.
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 additional tips about winter weather safety. The guide is available at the Ready Illinois website at Ready.Illinois.Gov.
As the weather turns colder this evening, residents can take advantage of the state’s warming centers. These include Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices throughout the state, which are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Illinois Tollway Oases, which are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 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.