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The City of Evanston’s snow-removal operations appear to be like ice cream: cold but smooth. During a press conference call just after noon on Jan. 5, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl complimented City staff for their continual hard work during this period and said the City has received “more compliments than complaints.”
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and several City department heads gave an update of progress so far in addressing this series of snowfalls that have dropped almost 18 inches on Evanston in the past few days.
The City has opened Robert Crown Center as a warming center, and the Library will be open until 9 p.m. on Sunday. Nonetheless, the City encouraged residents to stay home on Sunday.
The City continues to offer free parking in the downtown garages until 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 7, said Assistant City Manager Martin Lyons. This keeps cars off the street, where they could hinder snow operations, and offers shelter from the strong winds.
City buildings will be open on Monday, Jan. 6, Mr. Bobkiewicz said, with minimal but essential City staff. District 65 schools will not open on Jan. 6, according to a letter from Chief Administrative Officer Barbara Hiller. Evanston Township High School and even Northwestern University will also be closed on Jan. 6 because of the severe weather.
Representatives of the public works, parks and recreation, fire and police departments gave status reports about streets, water, crime fire and cold.
Suzette Robinson, director of public works, said the focus over the past two days was to clear the main arteries and haul snow away from the downtown area and the other business districts. The Howard Street, Central Street, Church/Dodge and Noyes Street business districts have been cleared, she said. The plan is to focus on Chicago Avenue next and try to get to Dempster Street by Tuesday.
The daytime plan for Sunday is to keep the main arteries open and continue to work on residential streets, Ms. Robinson said – a plan complicated somewhat by the blowing and drifting snow. She said the City anticipates another two inches of snow by Sunday evening, Jan. 5, bringing the total snowfall in the past several days to about 22 inches.
Salt is being rationed to municipalities throughout the area, Ms. Robinson said, but she does not believe the City will run out, and enough is on back-order to refill the salt dome.
The City is asking for voluntary complains with the even/odd snow-parking regulations, Ms. Robinson said. Odd-numbered sides of streets will be plowed on odd-numbered days and even-numbered sides on even-numbered days. She said the City understands that some people will not be able to start their cars, though.
Utilities Director Dave Stoneback said things were normal at the water treatment plant. Even though there is an ice cover on most of the lake, the winds have pushed it back from shore somewhat, so there is little danger of icing at the plant at present. The water temperature on Sunday was 32.5 degrees F, he said.
Mr. Stoneback said City crews were repairing a water main break on Gross Point Road.
“The frost is getting deeper in the ground,” Mr. Stoneback said, a condition that could cause pipes to freeze. “We anticipate calls from residents whose pipes have frozen – pipes along outer walls or in crawl spaces,” he said.
The City recommends preventing frozen water pipes by insulating or wrapping UL-listed heat tape around water pipes in unheated spaces, like garages, basements and crawl spaces; keeping cabinet doors open under kitchen and bathroom sinks overnight; running water at a small trickle; and setting the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.
Crime and Fire
“We are blessed with calm Sunday morning,” said Police Chief Richard Eddington. He said the recent switch to four-wheel-drive vehicles will make responses to service calls faster.
The volume of calls to Fire and Life Safety Services is normal, said Fire Chief Greg Klaiber. The department has beefed up its emergency-service preparation, he said, adding staffing for a third ambulance and another rescue squad.
Chief Klaiber said the City has agreed to have a bus from the Parks and Recreation division go to the scene of any fire to allow residents displaced by a fire as well as fire personnel an immediate place to keep warm.
The Main Library will be open until 9 p.m. on Jan. 5 (Sunday), said Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons. The Library Board’s management committee meeting for Jan. 6 has been cancelled. The decision about whether the Library will be open on Jan. 6 will hinge on what is best for the safety of the staff and of the patrons, she said.
Cots have been set up in Robert Crown Center for those who need overnight shelter from the cold, said Joe McRae, Director of the City’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department.
The City encourages anyone who needs transportation to the warming shelter to contact 311.
The City of Evanston reminds all residents to stay safe during cold winter weather. Follow the tips below to stay warm, and remember to check on elderly neighbors and friends. The public is welcome to stay warm at Evanston community centers and public libraries during regular hours of operation. If temperatures reach a level requiring the Evanston Health Department to activate the extreme temperature plan, a 24-hour warming shelter will be opened at the Robert Crown Center.
Staying Safe Outdoors
• Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Wool protects well against cold and moisture.
• Don’t forget to wear a hat, gloves and scarf. In very cold weather, frostbite can happen in less than a minute. Make sure to cover all exposed skin.
• Don’t overexert yourself. Cold weather can exacerbate underlying respiratory illness. Be sure to take frequent breaks where it is warm.
• Stay hydrated with non-caffeinated and non-alcohol drinks. Alcohol can speed the onset and worsen the effects of hypothermia.
• Keep driveways and sidewalks well-shoveled and salted.
• Start your snow blower in a well-ventilated area.
• Restrict outdoor exposure for infants and children.
• Keep pets indoors.
Staying Safe at Home
• Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Make sure to replace the batteries at least twice a year.
• Never use your oven for heat.
• Never bring a charcoal or gas grill indoors.
• Never leave candles unattended.
• Use electric space heaters with extreme care, and avoid placing them near curtains or other flammable materials. Be sure to turn them off before going to bed.
• Keep external exhausts, like dryer and furnace vents, clear of snow and ice.
• Prevent frozen water pipes by insulating or wrapping UL-listed heat tape around water pipes in unheated spaces, like garages, basements and crawl spaces; keeping cabinet doors open under kitchen and bathroom sinks overnight; running water at a small trickle; and setting the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.
• Extend the life of your fuel supply at home by insulating walls and attics.
• Caulk and weather-strip your home doors and windows, install storm windows, and consider covering your windows with plastic.
• Outfit fireplaces with a tight-sealing damper and keep it closed when not in use. If a fireplace is used infrequently, use a chimney block to eliminate heat loss.
• Make sure kitchen and bathroom vent dampers close properly.
Staying Safe on the Road
• Don’t run your car or truck in your garage, even if you leave the door open, and make sure your tailpipe is clear of snow, ice and other debris.
• Battery and ignition system should be in top condition.
• Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing.
• Ensure the heater and defroster work properly.
• Check and repair windshield wiper equipment; ensure proper washer fluid level.
• Ensure the thermostat works properly.
• Check lights and flashing hazard lights for serviceability.
• Check for leaks and crimped pipes in the exhaust system; repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
• Check brakes for wear and fluid levels.
• Check oil for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
• Consider snow tires, including those with studs, or chains.
• Replace fuel and air filters. Keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
• Have an emergency supply kit for both your home and car. In the kit include such items as blankets, matches, a standard first-aid kit, flashlight, battery-powered radio, battery-powered clock or watch, extra batteries, snow shovel, booster cables, mobile phone, compass, tool kit, tow rope, tire chains, and brightly colored cloth.
Watch for Hypothermia
Hypothermia is the most serious of cold-related illnesses. Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold. When a person experiences hypothermia their body temperature is so low that it affects the brain, making the person unable to think clearly or move well. The warning signs for adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling of hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Warning signs for infants are bright, red colored skin and very low energy.
What to do if you experience hypothermia:
• If body temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, seek medical attention immediately.
• If medical attention is not available, get to a warm room or shelter, remove any wet clothing, begin warming the body from the center of the body out, drink small quantities of warm food or beverages, and keep the body dry.
Watch for Frostbite
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, most often the face, fingers and toes. The warning signs of frostbite are white or grayish-yellow skin areas, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness.
What to do if you experience frostbite:
• If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.
• If medical attention is not available, and there no signs of hypothermia, get to a warm room or shelter, do not walk on frostbitten areas, immerse the affected area in warm (not hot) water, warm the affected area using body heat – but do not rub the area, and do not a use a heating pad, lamp or other heat-producing electrical devices.
How to Prevent Cold-related Illnesses
• Conserve heat within the home by avoiding extra ventilation
• Monitor your body temperature
• Keep a water supply
• Eat and drink wisely by consuming well-balanced meals; avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages
• Dress warmly and stay dry
• Avoid exertion
• Understand wind-chill
• Be cautious about travel
More information can be found in the Illinois Department of Public Health Weathering Winter booklet at www.idph.state.il.us/public/books/weatheringwinter.htm.