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How To Keep Your Home Safely Warm As Brutally Cold Temperatures Hit Chicago

People shouldn't use their ovens or stoves to warm their homes — but they can safely use space heaters. Here's what you need to know.

Hygge Fest celebrates staying warm and cozy indoors during cold winters.
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CHICAGO — The winter storm set to hit Chicago on Thursday will send temperatures plummeting, with the bitter cold expected to last throughout the weekend.

Officials have urged Chicagoans to stay indoors to be safe.

A cold front will move in Thursday afternoon, sending temperatures plummeting in the span of just a few hours. It’s expected to be right around 32 degrees — the freezing temperature — before the cold front moves in around 2 or 3 p.m.

RELATED: What You Need To Know About The Winter Storm That’s About To Hit Chicago

By 6 p.m., that could fall to an actual temperature of 10 degrees, but it’ll feel as cold as 10 below zero thanks to the windchill, said Kevin Doom, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

And by daybreak Friday, it could feel as cold as 30 degrees below zero, Doom said.

The brunt of the cold will come Thursday night, and it will stick around into Saturday morning, but the city will remain very cold for Christmas on Sunday.

“Brutally cold temperatures are going to continue into the weekend,” Doom said. “Overall, it’s going to be a very cold Christmas.”

City officials held a news conference Wednesday morning where they urged Chicagoans to stay inside and keep warm.

Here’s how you can stay safely warm indoors:

Chicago Heat Ordinance

  • Requirements vary.
  • Call 311 if you have an issue.

Landlords are required to supply heat to units during the winter under the Chicago Heat Ordinance, said buildings Commissioner Matt Beaudet.

People who live in a residential building with shared heating should have their heat be at least 68 degrees 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. and at least 66 degrees 10:30 p.m.-8:30 a.m. People who live in a building where units have individual heating equipment should have equipment that is able to keep their unit at, at least 68 degrees.

Landlords who don’t follow the ordinance can be fined $500-$1,000 per violation per day, and “system malfunctions is not an excuse,” Beaudet said. Tenants should immediately call 311 if their landlord doesn’t provide adequate heat, he said.

Read more about the ordinance here.

Safely Heating Your Home

  • Don’t use ovens or stoves.
  • You can use space heaters with caution.
  • Call 311 if you need help.

Don’t use ovens and stoves to heat apartments, Beaudet. That can cause carbon monoxide to build up, said fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.

If you need to use a space heater, keep it 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire, Nance-Holt said. Don’t use an extension cord with a space heater, and don’t put the space heater’s cord under a rug, carpet or anything else where it could get hot, she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, insulate their walls and attic, cover windows with plastic from the inside and repair roof leaks if possible.

Chicagoans can call 311 if they are struggling to stay warm in their home.

Prepping Your Home Now

  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Have a phone charged and an emergency kit.
  • Leave water trickling to prevent pipes from freezing.

Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working now, Beaudet said. If they’re not, call 311 and the city can help you, Nance-Holt said.

Ensure your furnace is working, and seek help if it is not, Nance-Holt said.

To avoid pipes freezing and exploding, Andrea Cheng, commissioner for the water department, said people should ensure warm air can circulate under their cabinets and in area where there’s plumbings in outside walls. People should also leave a trickle of water running at their faucet that’s furthest from the water line, she said.

If pipes do freeze, people can thaw them with a blowdryer or heating pad — and they should not use an open flame, Cheng said.

Once the storm starts, check your vents to ensure snowdrifts don’t block them, Beaudet said.

Keep a cellphone charged and ready for emergencies, as you might lose power during the storm, Nance-Holt said.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency also advises people to have a stocked emergency kit with blankets, baby supplies, medicine and other supplies. Here’s a full list of what it recommends.

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