How to Survive the Park Forest Freeze

snow plow, Park Forest Freeze
A snow plow near Belwood, Ontario, Canada, April 2000. (Photo: Jeroen Kransen on Flickr — Creative Commons)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Park Forest Freeze is upon us. Not just Park Forest, of course. The Chicagoland is preparing for possibly record low temperatures and deadly wind chills. What do we need to do to make it through the next couple of days? The Village of Park Forest has some advice for residents, as well as some information on how various departments are preparing for the brutal cold.

The National Weather Service currently shows temperatures in Park Forest plummeting to -25 tonight. The high temperature Wednesday in Park Forest is expected to be only 10 degrees warmer at -15.

If at all possible, officials in Park Forest urge residents to stay indoors Tuesday evening through Thursday morning.

All Village services, including Village Hall, will remain open and warming centers will be available.

Pace and Jolly Trolley will suspend service, and Metra will reduce service as a result of the conditions.

Those with no choice but to brave the elements are advised even just 5 minutes outdoors can be dangerous, experts say.

Residents are also encouraged to check on the elderly during these extreme conditions.

Director of Communications Jason Miller told eNews Park Forest that all “online outlets, as well as our cable access channel and Orchard overpass LED, are being utilized to encourage residents to stay indoors or in an emergency where warming centers are located. Due to construction in the lobby of Village Hall, the board room has been booked through 12:30 on Thursday to serve, for the time being, as our designated location for residents in need.”

Chief Water Plant Operator David Vavrek said the Village did have “quite a few” water main breaks last week. “Knock on wood though, we are doing ok right now. We’ve made some upgrades in equipment which has really helped lower the amount of main breaks we’ve been experiencing but it is January and extremely cold temps that we haven’t seen.”

Finally, Assistant Public Works Director Nicholas Christie said PFPW crews have been assigned indoor tasks for the next two days. “Water main breaks will employee the assistance of contractors as much as is possible. Necessary outside work will limit employee exposure to the elements to the best of our ability.”

Warming Centers in Park Forest

The following warming center are available in Park Forest:

Village Hall
350 Victory Drive
Park Forest, IL
9 a.m – 5 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Park Forest Police Department
200 Lakewood Blvd.
24 hours a day / 7 days a week

Cold Weather Safety Tips from the Park Forest Fire Department

Know the Difference

Winter Storm Watch

Severe weather conditions such as heavy snow and/or ice are possible, prepare now.

Winter Storm Warning

Severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin in your area, stay indoors.

Preparing for Severe Weather

It’s important to be prepared for winter storms and severe weather before they strike. Stock up with emergency supplies in case you become snowbound or without electricity for a period of time. Emergency supplies you should have on hand in case of a winter storm include the following:

  • portable radios and flashlights, with fresh batteries and extra batteries just in case
  • bottled water
  • a supply of food that can be prepared without an electric or gas stove
  • candles and matches
  • appropriate clothing (i.e. long underwear, mittens, hats, scarves, warm socks) and plenty of blankets
  • emergency heating equipment and fuel

Dressing for Cold Weather

When the temperature drops below freezing and the wind-chill factor is below zero, it is best to stay indoors . If you must go out, always dress properly for the weather. The following suggestions will help keep you warm:

  • Cover your ears and the lower part of your face. The ears, nose, chin and forehead are most susceptible to frostbite.
  • Wear several layers of lightweight clothing. The air between layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer than just one or two layers of heavy garments.
  • Be sure to keep your head covered…you lose 50% of your body heat through your head.
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves…the contact of your fingers keeps your hands warmer.
  • Wear heavy socks, or two pairs of lightweight socks, with waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a drop in body temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less, which can be fatal if not detected promptly and treated properly. There are several signs a person may be suffering from hypothermia. Signs to look for include:

  • forgetfulness
  • drowsiness
  • slurred speech
  • weak pulse
  • slow heartbeat
  • very slow, shallow breathing

If you notice these symptoms, the individual’s temperature should be taken immediately. If it is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, wrap the patient in a blanket to prevent further heat loss and seek medical assistance.

Frostbite

When spending time outdoors during cold weather, be alert for signs of frostbite. Frostbitten skin is whitish and stiff and the area will feel numb rather than painful. If you notice these signs after prolonged exposure to cold weather, take immediate action.

To treat frostbite, warm the affected part of the body gradually. Wrap the frostbitten area in blankets, sweaters, coats, etc. If no warm wrappings are available, place frostbitten hands under the armpit or use your body to cover the affected area and seek medical attention immediately.

Additional Cold Weather Safety Tips

  • Have a disaster supply kit for the trunk of each car used by members of your household. Include blankets, extra sets of dry clothing, a shovel, sand, tire chains, jumper cables, a first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries and a brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna. Also, be sure to winterize all cars before the winter storm season.
  • If you are trapped in your car during a snowstorm, stay there. Leave the car only if help is visible within 100 yards. To attract attention, hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the trunk. Start the car’s engine for about 10 minutes each hour and turn on the heater when the car is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
  • Winter storms bring ice, snow and cold temperatures. Even small amounts of snow and ice can cause severe problems. In order to be prepared put together a disaster supply kit for your home. Include a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, canned food and non-electric can opener, first aid supplies and bottled water.
  • The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly. All of these methods of heating may be acceptable, however, they are also a major contributing factor in residential fires. Remember to use caution with heating sources to help prevent fires. Leave adequate clearance between the heating appliance and combustible surfaces (at least 3 feet) and never operate appliances while you are asleep or when you have left the house.
  • Shoveling snow is extremely hard work, especially if you lift large loads and throw the snow some distance from your body. Cold weather puts and extra strain on your heart without any physical exertion. Therefore, you shouldn’t shovel snow unless you are in good physical condition. Be sure to know your limits when shoveling, rest frequently and pace yourself. If you become breathless, stop and go indoors to rest and warm up before continuing.

Governor Pritzker Issues Disaster Proclamation

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker today announced a disaster proclamation issued ahead of “potentially historic” weather.

“I’m urging every Illinoisian to take this weather very seriously. These conditions are and can be life threatening. Even short periods of exposure to this type of weather can be dangerous…this is weather where even five minutes of exposure can have very serious health consequences,” Pritzker said.

Snow Removal Process in Park Forest: A Reminder

The Department of Public Works reminds residents of how the Village removes snow from Village streets.

Public Works is responsible for 72 miles of roadway located within the Park Forest corporate limits, and clearing all streets can take some time. All public streets are plowed in order of most traveled streets to less traveled streets. Residents in some parts of Park Forest may be part of homeowners associations or cooperatives who hold contracts with outside companies for snow and ice removal.

Snow Route Parking Ban

Per Resolution, no parking on designated “Snow Route” streets at any time there has been an accumulation of two (2) inches or more of ice and/or snow. This ban remains in effect until the accumulation of ice and/or snow has been removed.

While not required by ordinance on streets not designated as snow routes, it greatly assists the Department of Public Works in plowing after snowfall and assist public safety in quickly reaching residents if vehicles are removed from side streets during heavy snowfall.

What to know about frozen pipes 

(recommendations provided by the American Red Cross) 

Before the onset of cold weather, protect your pipes from freezing by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Learn more from the Red Cross.

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