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Dangerous, 25-Below-Zero Cold Is Coming To Chicago This Weekend. Here’s How To Stay Safe

Here's how to keep your pipes from freezing and what to do if your heat is busted and your landlord isn't helping.

People walk along the Chicago Riverwalk after a heavy snowfall this weekend in the Loop on January 31, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — It could feel as chilly as 25 degrees below zero this weekend in Chicago — and the dangerous cold will last into next week.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the city and surrounding area, saying “very cold” temperatures and wind chills will come Friday and “continue through much of next week.” Snow is also possible.

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At times, temperatures will fall below zero — and the windchill could make it feel as cold as 25 degrees below zero. It’ll be the coldest Chicago’s been since January 2019’s “polar vortex,” when there were days where it felt like it was 50 degrees below zero outside.

Officials have warned people to stay inside and to find ways to safely stay warm.

“Prepare for bitterly cold conditions if you will need to be out at” the chilliest times, which will come Sunday and Monday mornings, the National Weather Service said in a tweet.

Here’s what you need to know:

Weather

Friday through Monday will see temperatures get as warm as 17 degrees — though, with the wind chill, it’ll actually feel like it’s anywhere from 10 below zero to 10 degrees during the day, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday will be blustery, with wind gusts up to 35 mph blowing around snow. But the day will be partly sunny, according to the weather agency. Overnight, temperatures could fall as low as 4 degrees, and it could feel as cold as 20 below zero.

Saturday will be mostly sunny, though with a chance for snow in the afternoon and at night. The day will become increasingly cloudier, and it’s only expected to get as warm as 14 degrees.

Saturday night will see the worst of the cold: Temperatures could fall to 3 degrees below zero, and it could feel as cold as 25 degrees below zero, according to the weather agency.

Sunday will be sunny but cold, with an expected high temperature of just 9 degrees during the day. There’s a chance for snow again.

Temperatures could dip to 1 degree overnight Sunday, and it could once again feel as chilly as 25 below.

Monday will warm up somewhat, with an expected high temperature of 17 degrees. But there’s another chance for snow during the day, and the skies will stay cloudy.

Monday night, temperatures could fall to 6 below zero, and it could feel as cold as 20 below.

Staying Safe At Home

Fire Commissioner Richard Ford said Chicagoans should check on their vulnerable neighbors to ensure they stay warm. People should not use their ovens or stovetops to try to warm their houses, and the Fire Department also recommends against space heaters since they’re a fire risk, he said at a Wednesday news conference.

Ford encouraged everyone to make sure they have a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

And Chicagoans can help the Fire Department by shoveling snow away from fire hydrants, ensuring they’re easily accessible for firefighters in case of emergency, Ford said.

Buildings Commissioner Matt Beaudet also urged Chicagoans to ensure snow from recent storms isn’t covering up homes to their vents, like dryer vents, since that can create safety issues.

Pets

All cats and dogs must be brought indoors, even if they’re used to staying outside, according to Cook County Animal Control.

Walks should not last longer than 10 minutes during times there are sub-zero temperatures. Put foot coverings on your dogs if they will wear them, avoid walking them on salted sidewalks and wash their paws with warm water once home, according to the county angecy.

Protect Your Pipes

People can prevent their pipes from freezing by allowing the faucet to “dribble” water, Ford said. If your pipes do freeze, you can use a hair dryer to thaw them, but you should not use something with an open flame like a candle or torch, he said.

Heating Your Apartment

Beaudet said landlords are required to ensure their tenants’ units are heated during this time. Units must be at least 68 degrees during the day and 66 degrees overnight, Beaudet said.

If your landlord isn’t complying, you can file a report with 311. Landlords can be fined up to $1,000 per day per violation, Beaudet said.

Traveling Safely

Chicagoans who have to travel should keep a pair of gloves, a hat, water, flashlight, communication device, blankets and a cellphone charger in their car, said Josh Dennis, first deputy director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Helping People Experiencing Homelessness

You can carry hand warmers, gift cards, cash, food and other supplies — like gloves and blankets — with you so you can give them to people who are homeless.

You can share the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless’ guide on where people can turn for help when the temperatures drop. It’s online here.

And you can reach out to local organizations the support people who are homeless, like the Night Ministry and other shelters.

Read more here.

Warming Centers

The city’s warming centers are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. People at warming centers must wear masks and stay socially distant due to the coronavirus pandemic. Information about warming centers is available online or by calling 311.

The centers’ locations:

  • 1140 W. 79th St.
  • 10 S. Kedzie Ave.
  • 4314 S. Cottage Grove ave.
  • 845 W. Wilson Ave.
  • 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
  • 4312 W. North Ave.

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