Extreme Cold Safety
(If you are concerned about your well being or the well being of another person, do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1.)
Lombard's winter weather can produce extremely cold conditions and present safety concerns to residents. While we can get used to these plunging temperatures, we should never forget that they are dangerous. Preparing emergency kits and taking a few minutes to plan ahead will help provide you with increased safety during times of unexpected emergencies brought on by extreme cold. Click here to learn how to prepare for a winter storm.
ComEd and Power Outages:
If you lose power, contact ComEd at 1-800-Edison1. If your home begins to lose heat, seek alternative shelter. To view power outages, updates and area ComEd warming shelters, visit ComEd's power outage map: https://outagemap.comed.com/. If you are in an unsafe situation, dial 9-1-1.
How to Avoid or Fix Frozen Pipes
In extreme sub-zero temperatures, it is advisable to let the water run at a constant trickle until the temperature rises. Lower lake water temperatures combined with cold air movement around plumbing fixtures can create freezing in water lines. Under these conditions, water can freeze in the lines in just a couple of hours.
- Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe. The water can be used to water indoor plants and more.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
- Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
- Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation so do not disturb it.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze:
- Shut off the water immediately. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
When you are away:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- Also, a freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
Dressing for Extreme Cold
- If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. A hat will prevent loss of body heat.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
Extreme Cold Safety Tips
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
- Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly. What to Do: Cover exposed skin, but do not rub the affected area in an attempt to warm it up. Seek medical help immediately.
- Signs of Hypothermia: Dangerously low body temperature. Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
- What to Do: If symptoms of hypothermia are detected take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°, seek medical attention immediately. Get the victim to a warm location. Remove wet clothing. Warm the center of the body first by wrapping the person in blankets or putting on dry clothing. Give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Seek medical help immediately.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends, if you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.
Driving Safety During Extreme Cold
No one plans on their car breaking down or getting stranded, but it happens. Be sure to follow these tips to increase your safety.
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
- Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms
Stranded in Your Car: Stay or Go?
- If stuck on the road to avoid exposure and/or rescue is likely
- If a safe location is neither nearby or visible
- If you do not have appropriate clothing to go outside
- If you do not have the ability to call for help
- If the distance to call for help is accessible.
- If you have visibility and outside conditions are safe.
- If you have appropriate clothing.
- Once the storm has passed, if you are not already home, follow instructions from your local transportation department and emergency management agency to determine which route will be safest for you to get home. Drive with extra caution.
If You're Stranded In Your Car During a Blizzard
- Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
- Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
- Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
- Eat regularly and drink ample fluids to avoid dehydration, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs - the use of lights, heat, and radio - with supply.
- Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
- If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
- Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes.
Stopping Distances in Winter Conditions
Fire Place and Space Heater Safety
- Place space heaters on a flat, level surface, away from high traffic areas.
- Never leave space heaters unattended.
- Only use space heaters with the certification label of a nationally recognized testing lab.
- Plug a space heater directly into an outlet and avoid using an extension cord.
- Don't use a space heater if the plug is broken, or the cord is frayed, worn, or damaged.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at least once a month.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Warning
- If you lose power, do not use a generator indoors and never heat your home with a gas stove top or oven.
- Ensure that carbon monoxide detectors are available on all floors of your home and that batteries are in working order.
- Do not heat up a car inside of a closed garage. The fumes will quickly overtake the space.
- Watch for symptoms including a dull headache, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, confusion and blurred vision. Dial 9-1-1 if you begin to experience or recognize these symptoms, as loss of consciousness is possible.