Winter Storm: Experts Offer Safety Tips to Motorists, Pet Owners Ahead of Heavy Snow

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A winter storm is moving into northern Illinois and northwest Indiana on Tuesday, and experts are offering tips on how residents can stay safe amid treacherous conditions.

A winter storm warning has been issued for large swaths of the Chicago-area and northwest Indiana, with a foot or more of snow possible in far southern suburbs.

With serious travel impacts and heavy snow expected to last for several days, here are some tips from a variety of agencies to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

General Tips for Residents

With a foot or more of snow expected in some locations, Cook County officials offered residents a series of tips to keep safe in the coming days.

-Wear multiple layers, including a hat and gloves, when outside. Layers keep the body warm because the air in between the layers acts as insulation.

-Continued cold exposure can lead to frostbite. Carefully rewarm exposed skin with a warm, wet wash cloth.

-Older individuals, or those who are relatively inactive, should use caution when shoveling snow. Sudden exertion, combined with cold conditions, can increase heart rate and blood pressure.

When inside of your home:

-Never use your oven for heat

-Never bring charcoal or gas grills indoors.

-Make sure all portable heaters are not plugged when not in use.

-Do not put electric space heaters near curtains or other flammable materials, and never leave them on while asleep.

If you need a warming center during the winter storm, you can visit a Cook County warming center.

Chicago-area residents are preparing Tuesday for over a foot of snow in an overnight winter storm, which could cause dangerous conditions for travel over the next two days. NBC 5's Lisa Chavarria reports.

Driving Tips/Safety Suggestions

The Illinois Tollway system says that it is mobilizing its full fleet of nearly 200 snowplows in response to the sleet and snow that is expected to begin Tuesday.

Here are a series of tips being offered by the agency to keep drivers safe:

-If drivers’ vehicles become disabled on area tollways, they are urged to activate their hazard lights and to call *999 from their phone to receive assistance from Illinois State Police.

-Real-time information on pavement conditions and roadway incidents are available on the Twitter accounts of the individual tollways, or on the Tollway’s website.

If drivers are using roadways during cold weather, they are advised to do the following:

-Be sure to fully charge your cell phone.

-Be sure to fully inflate tires.

-Keep gas tanks at least half-full to avoid gas lines freezing.

-Keep a cold weather safety kit that includes gloves, boots, blankets, road flares, water and a flashlight.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster declaration Tuesday afternoon ahead, activating the Illinois National Guard, ahead of an anticipated severe winter storm.

Tips for Pet Owners

While humans aren’t exactly huge fans of snowy and icy weather, our pets aren’t either, and officials with the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control are offering tips to keep animal friends safe during the coming storm.

-All dogs and cats should be brought in whenever possible during cold weather.

-Both salt and ice can irritate your dog’s footpads, and foot coverings are strongly advised if your pet will tolerate them. If not, then owners are advised to avoid salt whenever possible, and to wash their pet’s paws with warm water when coming back inside.

-Dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite, and owners are urged to check their foot pads when they come inside and to wash them with warm (not hot) towels.

-Antifreeze is extremely toxic to animals, so residents are urged to clean up spills immediately.

-Honk your horn before starting the ignition of any vehicles parked outdoors, as feral cats and wild animals will sometimes seek shelter in a car’s warm engine block.

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