Winter does not officially start for another couple of weeks, but as most know in Illinois, when it hits, it hits without warning. Therefore, it is important to be getting yourself “winterized” now rather than waiting for the first snowflakes to fall. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) along with the National Weather Service has put out guidance to help get you ready for all the obstacles you may face when winter smacks you in the face.
A study published in 2020 by the University of Illinois-Chicago showed that 95% of temperature related deaths in Illinois were due to cold weather. The NWS, says that the coldest temperature on record occurred on January 31st, 2019 when the temperature dropped to -38 degrees near Mt. Carroll in Carroll County. The previous record low was -36 degrees in 1999.
IEMA says to do three things: take precautions when working outdoors, recognize home heating dangers, and take it slow on ice and snow. When working outside, it is important to wear proper clothing but to also make sure body is ready for the stress of being outdoors in drastic temperatures. Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and schedule a physical exam before winter work begins to see whether or not your heart can stand up to working outdoors.
Every year more than 400 people die in the US from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have a licensed professional examine your furnace, wood-burning stove, fireplaces, and chimneys. Test all smoke and CO alarms in the homes and replace expired or broken alarms. This can go a long way towards preventing fires.
As the snow comes, adjust your driving habits. This means slowing down and turning on your headlights when driving on snowy or ice-coated roads and reduced visibility due to fog. Traffic studies have shown that minor snow can be just as dangerous for motorists as major snowstorms. Always pack an emergency kit to store in your vehicle and add extra time in your schedule to get to where you need to go.
For more information on what to do to prepare for winter driving visit www.gettingaroundillinois.com or visit www.ready.illinois.gov.