Chicago officials offer advice to stay warm, safe amid subzero temperatures

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- City officials offer preparation advice as Chicago braces for an arctic blast. Forecasters say we are in for subzero wind chills and daytime highs in the single digits.

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications joined other city departments Wednesday to urge residents to take the necessary steps to stay warm and safe by utilizing city-offered services and tips during extremely cold temperatures.

Beginning Friday and lasting through next week, the Chicago area is expected to see the coldest conditions in two years with wind chills expected below zero for several days.

Department of Family and Support Services Warming Centers 

When the temperature is 32 degrees or below, warming areas are available at city community service centers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and as needed during the evening and weekend. To locate a center nearby, residents can call City Services at 311 or visit Cloth face coverings are required while in a warming are due to COVID-19 safety precautions – DFSS is providing a complimentary face covering to residents in need.

Chicago Fire Department Winter Preparedness Safety Tips

To stay warm inside your home, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Richard C. Ford II does not recommend using space heaters.

"But the reality is, many families feel they have to use them," he said.

Ford urged safe and responsible use of UL-rated space heaters and keeping them at least three feet from anything combustible, such as bedding or furniture. He added use of such space heaters in children's rooms should be monitored closely.

"Kids sometimes move the heaters closer to the bed, or in some cases, in the bed, which lead to tragic results," he said.

Ford said if extension cords must be used, they should be 15 amp UL-certified 14 gage wire or larger.

"This is not the 99 cent cord you get from the dollar store," Ford said.

With the added demand on furnaces and boilers, CFD also reminds residents that they are required by ordinance to have working carbon monoxide detectors to protect against carbon monoxide leaks from a heating system that could be fatal over time, and to keep smoke detectors in working order.

Department of Buildings 

For renters, Chicago Department of Buildings Commissioner Matthew Beaudet said landlords must abide by the Chicago Heat Ordinance.

The Heat Ordinance mandates that, during cold weather months, landlords supply heat to rental units or to any unit where owners do not have individual control of the heat.

With colder temperatures expected later this week, it is noted that, from Sept. 15 through June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Landlords face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation, for each day they do not supply adequate heat. The reason for lack of heat does not matter – landlords must follow the law, and apartments must be heated.

"System malfunctions are no excuse," Beaudet said. "Landlords must follow the law and apartments must be heated."

If you are a renter and your landlord is not providing adequate heat or no heat at all, you are asked to contact 311 to file a complaint. The Department of Buildings will inspect your unit and will take action against delinquent owners.

As an important reminder, in cold weather and year-round, the Chicago Building Code mandates that landlords provide working smoke detectors for their tenants, and requires that tenants provide working batteries for the smoke detectors in their units.

Department of Water Management 

The Department of Water Management reminds residents make sure that warm air is circulating throughout the home and keep a trickle of water running in order to prevent frozen pipes.

If pipes freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them. Instead use a hair dryer or heating pad. For more info visit


OEMC will monitor weather conditions with the NWS and coordinate response efforts with the city’s public safety and infrastructure departments and public partners to keep residents safe and informed. Additionally, OEMC issues several alerts and notifications to keep residents up to date on weather conditions and emergencies:

• Notify Chicago: Sign up for emergency alerts at
CHILAKE: For lakefront notices, TEXT “CHILAKE” to 7-8-0-1-5
• COVID: Get COVID-19 updates by TEXTING “COVID19” to 6-7-2-8-3
• CHIBIZ: Business updates, TEXT “CHIBIZ” to 6-7-2-8-3

The City of Chicago would like to remind residents to provide any needed assistance to neighbors, family members, the elderly and those most vulnerable. If you need to request a well-being check you can call 311, go to, or use the 311 mobile app.