Icy driving conditions across area as temperatures plunge

PAWS Chicago gives tips to also keep your pets safe from outside dangers
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Bitter cold is expected to continue Sunday as part of a cold blast that isn't going away anytime soon.

Get the latest AccuWeather updates here

A Winter Weather Advisory was in effect from noon Saturday until midnight Sunday. The affected counties include Central Cook; De Kalb; DuPage; Kane; Kendall; Lee; Northern Cook; Northern Will; Ogle; Eastern Will; Ford; Grundy; Iroquois; Kankakee; La Salle; Livingston; Southern Will and Southern Cook. Northwest Indiana will also likely be affected.

The freezing cold temperatures are expected to stay for a while. Highs will be in the single digits Sunday, but wind chills will stay well below zero through early next week.

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A Wind Chill Advisory was also in effect Sunday for Boone; Lake; McHenry; Winnebago; Central Cook; De Kalb; DuPage; Kane; Kendall; Lee; Northern Cook; Northern Will; Ogle; Southern Cook; Eastern Will; Ford; Grundy; Iroquois; Kankakee; La Salle; Livingston and Southern Will. Northwest Indiana will be affected, as well. It began at midnight and went through noon Sunday. Wind chills as cold as minus 15 to 30 are likely.

The deep freeze has iced over stretches of sidewalk and roadway, making for dangerous conditions on foot or in vehicles.

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Also, at these temperatures, frostbite can set in on exposed skin within minutes.

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You should seek medical attention if you're showing symptoms of frostbite like pain in your hands, face, nose or ears, tingling or numbness in your toes and feet, and skin discoloration or blisters, particularly on your extremities.

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The Chicago area is experiencing some of the coldest weather in years.

The Illinois Tollway is putting its Zero Weather Road Patrols in place to respond around the clock to stranded drivers.

"We want to make sure that our patrons are safe and that we're providing any assistance that we can due to the extreme weather," said Steve Mednis, with the Illinois Tollway.

Officials are urging stranded drivers to call for help and wait inside their vehicles.

Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department will deploy more than 200 snow vehicles to focus specifically on ice and snow on the city's arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive.

Cold Weather Tips

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There are some steps you can take to keep your vehicle running and your house warm.

There are some steps you can take to keep your vehicle running and your house warm:

  • To keep your car running in the extreme cold, get your battery checked and make sure you have jumper cables in your trunk.

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.

  • Have an emergency kit equipped with blankets, non-perishable food, boots and extra clothing in case you get stranded.

  • When it comes to your home, experts advise:

  • Setting your thermostat to 68 degrees

  • Have your furnace inspected to make sure it's working safely and efficiently.

  • Replace your furnace filter if it's been a while.

  • The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend using space heaters; however, if used, be sure they are UL certified and at least 3 feet from anything that can ignite. The use of a space heater in children's rooms should be monitored closely as children sometimes move them close to or into the bed with tragic results, officials said. If extension cords are used, they should be rated at 15 amps minimum and never put cords under carpet. With the added demand on furnaces and boilers, CFD also reminds residents 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.

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    Another big problem in the cold: busted pipes.

    To prevent this from happening:

  • Allow a slow trickle of water to flow from your faucets to help prevent pipes from freezing

  • Open doors and cabinets to allow heat to get to bathroom pipes and pipes under sinks.

  • When it comes to protecting yourself from frostbite or hypothermia, use common sense, dress in layers and always wear a hat and gloves.

    Cook County Warming Centers will also be open. Visit cookgov.me/warmcenters for more information.

    Cold weather tips for pets

    As for your furry friends, before you bring your cats, dogs or other pets inside for the night, PAWS Chicago warns owners of outside dangers they may have encountered, including exposure to antifreeze.

    "It may have spilled when you're pouring into your car, your neighbor may have been pouring it into their car and spilled some on the ground," said Ajmie Gay with PAWS Chicago. "Dogs are notorious for just licking the sidewalk or just ingesting the snow that might have been around but antifreeze or the salts."

    PAWS Chicago said if you buy salts, it's best to stick with pet-safe salts. Anything else can be toxic to your pet.

    "The salt actually causes chemical burns," Gay added. "So you may not see it at first, but the longer it sits on their paws you may actually see like ulcerations on their paws because it builds up, and then if they're licking their paws, they're going to have those burns inside their mouth."

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    According to PAWS Chicago, there are many threats to pets during the cold weather.

  • It is best to keep pets inside and limit time outdoors since dogs and cats are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite when exposed to cold temperatures for too long. If you notice your pets shivering, that is a clear sign that they are too cold. If you have outdoor cats, bring them inside.

  • Clip long fur between the toes and pads to prevent uncomfortable ice balls form forming while in the snow. When returning from outside, wipe snow and ice off your dog's belly, legs and especially paws with a moist rag in order to remove salt or other harmful chemicals.

  • Pet coats and sweaters help to keep your pets warm in cold temperatures. Dog booties can also help protect their paws.

  • Limit travel with your pet. To avoid frostbite or hypothermia, bring pets along when you leave the vehicle -- even for quick stops.

  • Outdoor cats often look for heat by crawling under hoods of cars. Bang on the hood or fender or honk a few times before turning on the engine.

  • To see what to watch for and things to avoid when it comes to pets during the cold, visit pawchicago.org.

    Citywide warming centers

    In a statement, the Department of Streets and Sanitation said warming areas are available at city facilities when the temperature is 32 degrees or below.

    Warming areas are safe spaces for refuge and relief from extreme cold weather, according to the statement. Cloth face coverings are required due to COVID-19 safety precauttions. To locate a center nearby, residents can call city services at 311 or visit 311.chicago.gov.

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    OEMC will monitor weather conditions with the National Weather Service and coordinate response efforts with the city's public safety and infrastructure departments and public partners to keep residents safe and informed, officials said.

    Residents were reminded to provide any needed assistance to neighbors, family members, the elderly and those most vulnerable during the cold weather. If you need to request a well-being check you can call 311, go to 311.chicago.gov, or use the 311 mobile app.

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