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City says ‘all hands on deck’ as deep freeze, snow expected to continue through weekend

“This has been the coldest weather event since January 2019,” said Rich Guidice, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Control. “We urge residents to take precautions and plan accordingly.”

Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2020, is the coldest day so far this season.
As Chicago braces for another weekend of frigid temperatures and steady snowfall, city officials on Thursday implored residents to prepare for the brutal weather and seek shelter if necessary.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

As Chicago braces for another weekend of frigid temperatures and steady snowfall, city officials on Thursday implored residents to prepare for the brutal weather and seek shelter if necessary.

“Conditions will be significantly colder through the weekend, with sub-zero wind chills and daily highs in the single-digits and teens. This has been the coldest weather event since January 2019,” Rich Guidice, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Control, said during an afternoon news conference. “We urge residents to take precautions and plan accordingly.”

Guidice said residents should continue checking the forecast throughout the weekend. Though unnecessary trips outside aren’t recommended, he advised drivers to keep a full tank of gas, allow extra time for travel and carry a flashlight, blanket, snacks and water in the case of an emergency.

And with more snow in the forecast over the weekend, Guidice urged Chicagoans to “be good neighbors” by shoveling and salting public walkways. What’s more, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Richard Ford reminded shovelers to dig out fire hydrants on their property.

Ford also warned against using stoves as a heat source and noted that space heaters should remain three feet from anything combustible. And he and other officials urged residents to make sure they have a working smoke detector.

Residents were also asked to keep tabs on family members and neighbors, namely the elderly, homeless and those with disabilities. To request a wellbeing check, call 311 or visit the city’s website.

Mark Sanders, deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, said the Garfield and Dr. Martin Luther King community service centers will remain open as warming centers from 9 a.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Monday. As long as temperatures are at or below freezing, all six city warming centers will stay open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those looking to get out of the cold can also call 311 to be matched with and transported to a shelter. Chicago police districts will also remain open to the public overnight, and select libraries and park districts will double as warming centers during daytime hours.

Matthew Beaudet, commissioner of the Building Department, noted that landlords are required to supply heat to rental properties where tenants don’t control the temperature. A city ordinance requires that temperatures at rental properties can’t drop below 68-degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. or below 66-degrees overnight.

Renters can contact 311 to report potential violations, Beaudet said, noting that landlords face fines up to $1,000 for each infraction. He said his department has already conducted 4,500 inspections stemming from allegations that buildings weren’t heated or didn’t meet the minimum temperature requirements.

“The city has all hands on deck this weekend. … We are prepared to handle the severe weather, as we do every year,” Beaudet said.