CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced measures that will continue to be taken by Illinois state agencies in response to the ongoing extreme winter weather affecting more than 90 percent of the state. He also urged residents to stay safe and warm and to check on their neighbors during the bitter cold and snowy weather.
"This winter storm will be one for the record books, and we want to make sure everyone stays safe and warm until it passes,” Governor Quinn said. “State crews continue working around the clock to keep residents safe and to respond to any emergency situations that may occur. I urge everyone to keep close tabs on their neighbors and families, stay inside as much as possible, limit their exposure to the cold temperatures, dress in layers and keep pets indoors.”
The National Weather Service forecasts historically cold temperatures throughout Illinois following the heavy snow that has blanketed much of the state. High winds will drive wind chills to 35 to 45 degrees below zero through Tuesday. Because of the record-setting cold, Governor Quinn urges residents to take advantage of the state’s more than 100 warming centers, including 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., or the Illinois Tollway Oases, which are open 24 hours a day. To find a warming center near you, call the IDHS hotline at (800) 843-6154 or visit keepwarm.illinois.gov.
Heavy and drifting snow has made travel extremely hazardous throughout the state. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has nearly 3,700 employees and 1,755 trucks deployed statewide to address the winter weather on state routes, while the Illinois Tollway has 200 staff and 182 snow plows on duty in response to the weather. The Tollway has also doubled the number of Zero Weather Road Patrols it provides to assist customers stranded in their cars during the severe weather. The Zero Weather Road Patrols will continue into Wednesday, January 8, or until the temperature or wind chill rises above zero. Motorists are urged to only travel if absolutely necessary and to give road crews plenty of room, keep their gas tanks at least two-thirds full, and have a complete emergency kit in their vehicles. For roadside assistance anywhere in Illinois, call *999.
Road condition information is available 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) is in close contact with local emergency management agencies and prepared to provide assistance if needed. They advise residents to stay home and off the roads if at all possible due to the extremely dangerous cold and snowy conditions. 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, 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.
To reduce the chance of frostbite or hypothermia if you must venture outdoors, the Illinois Department of Public Health advises residents to stay dry and wear several layers of lightweight clothing; cover your head; wear mittens rather than fingered gloves; wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks; and cover your ears and lower face. Residents should seek immediate medical attention for any severe weather related health issues.
The Illinois Department on Aging encourages relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. Senior citizens should dress in layers, both indoors and outdoors, make sure they got plenty to eat and drink, have extra medications in the house and let someone else shovel the snow.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture advises residents to keep their pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen food and water. Check frequently on any animal that remains outside.