This week’s deep freeze is not just any old winter weather, the temperatures are dangerous, especially at night with real feel values of up to 30 below zero. By Wednesday, February 18, the entire North Shore area was under a wind chill advisory, which according to weather.com happens when the wind combines with very cold air to generate low wind chills that can result in frostbite in only a matter of minutes and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. The North Shore and surrounding areas are under the advisory until noon on Thursday, so take measures to ensure the safety of yourself, neighbors and loved ones. Here is some useful information :
If your home is not warm enough, head to one of these official warming centers on the North Shore and find a full list of locations in Cook County here.
New Trier Township
739 Elm Street, Winnetka
M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Local PD: (847) 501-6034
3801 W. Lake Avenue, Glenview
M-F 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Local PD: (847) 729-5000
Most police departments also are open 24/7 for those who need a warm place to stay. Other public buildings that can act as warming centers during operating hours are libraries and park district centers. Call your local facilities first to see if they are open.
Space heater warnings
Don’t attempt to use your oven for heat or bring charcoal or gas grills indoors as they are a carbon monoxide hazard. Make sure all portable heaters are unplugged when not in use and use electric space heaters with extreme caution, such as avoiding placing them near curtains or other flammable material and turning them off before going to bed. Here are more space heater tips from Northbrook-based UL Laboratories:
- Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles.
- Use space heaters only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home’s heating system.
- Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
Inspect the heater’s cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
- Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified technician. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.
- Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged or break parts in the heater.
- Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.
Avoid frozen pipes
You should take other precautions in your home to prevent frozen pipes, including the following:
- Keep heat at adequate levels or leave faucets open with a slight drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Heat the spaces where your water meters and lines are located. Prevent them from freezing by heating the area to about 60 degrees.
- Fill holes in doors, windows and walls near water meters and pipes. During cold weather, a high wind or draft coming from a small opening in a door, window or wall can freeze a nearby pipe or meter. This is particularly true when the wind chill factor drops below zero.
- Be sure heat can circulate around meter and pipe areas. Water meters and pipes in or on outside walls, in an un-insulated cabinet or in an enclosed area can freeze if heat is blocked from circulating through this area. Open cabinet doors to allow heat from the room to warm plumbing pipes and fixtures, if cabinets are located along an outside wall.
- Be sure the pipes and meter in any unheated area are protected by heat tape and/or insulation. Check insulation for dampness on a regular basis. Leaks in walls and other areas can saturate the insulation and reduce its effectiveness.
Cold weather gear
If you must go outdoors, always remember to dress properly to protect yourself:
- Wear several layers of lightweight clothing. The air between the layers of clothing acts as insulation to keep you warmer.
- Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves. The contact of your fingers keeps your hands warmer.
- Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks.
- Cover your head, ears and the lower part of your face. The ears, nose, chin and forehead are most susceptible for frostbite. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect the lungs from directly inhaling extremely cold air.
Stay warm — and remember spring is only a month away.