Winter is (almost) here! Here’s everything you need to know to prepare.
The Department of Streets & Sanitation (DSS) coordinates Chicago’s snow and ice control efforts from Snow Command (yes, it’s called Snow Command). When it snows, DSS’s first priority is to clear arterial streets (e.g. Foster, Damen, or Lincoln Ave). Once arterial streets are deemed safe, Snow Command takes care of residential streets.
For major snowstorms, Streets and Sanitation also has the capacity to equip as many as 200 garbage trucks with “quick hitch” plows to supplement the fleet. Since these don’t have salt spreading capability, they are run in tandem with trucks that do. In addition, heavy equipment and labor is available from other municipal departments for snow clearance during and after a blizzard.
DSS crews make every effort to remove snow and ice from streets as quickly as possible during the winter months. However, if your street requires snow removal, you can file a 311 Ice/Snow Removal Request.
A couple of things to note:
- The city does not plow alleys, because plowed snow can accumulate against garages and can cause structural damage or collapse. Instead of plowing, DSS sends garbage trucks down alleys to compress the snow, making alleys easier to navigate. If you’d like your alley to be plowed, we recommend organizing your block to pay for snow removal services.
- Bridge sidewalks and bike lanes require special snow equipment, and cannot be plowed by typical snow plows. To request snow removal, please file a Snow Removal – Protected Bike Lane or Bridge Sidewalk service request via 311. Please note that CDOT has limited capacity to prioritize these requests, so snow removal may take longer than usual. Reach out to our ward office if snow isn’t removed within 72 hours after the stated completion time on 311.
- Sidewalks are also not cleared by the city; Chicagoans must clear a path at least 5 feet wide on all sidewalks adjacent to your property, including any crosswalk ramps. They should not shovel the snow into the right-of-way, which includes: transit stops, bus pads, parking spaces, bike lanes, bike racks, Divvy stations, and any other space where snow impedes traffic. If you notice a sidewalk in the public way that has not been shoveled or salted within 15 hours after a snow event, please file a Snow – Uncleared Sidewalk Complaint via 311. You can also contact our office, so we can submit a 311 request and then escalate to our Ward Superintendent, who has the authority to issue tickets. Our Ward office prioritizes ticketing businesses / apartment complexes, instead of single family residences.
The Chicago winter overnight parking ban begins on Friday, December 1, 2023 (overnight Thursday-Friday), and is in effect through April 1, 2024. The parking ban is enforced regardless of snow on main streets throughout the City during the hours of 3-7AM. Foster and Ridge Avenues are the only streets within the 40th Ward to which the parking ban applies, but you can see a full map of affected streets here.
There is a separate snow-related parking ban that can be activated regardless of date on arterial streets where there are at least two inches of snow on the street. While it isn’t activated often, cars parked on these street may receive a ticket to facilitate snow removal. Affected streets will be marked with signs like the one below:
Heating Guidelines and Warming Centers
Remember that you have a right to stay warm! The Chicago 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. From September 15th through June 1st, the temperature inside a rental residence is required to be at least 68 degrees from 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 PM to 8:30 AM. Landlords face fines of up to $1000 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.
If your apartment is insufficiently heated, please file a No Heat Complaint via 311. The Department of Buildings (DOB) will inspect your unit and will take action against delinquent owners. Another resource is he Chicago Tenants Movement who can help counsel tenants and inform them of their rights around winter issues. The hotline is 773-657-8700. They may be able to donate an indoor thermometer to tenants so they can more effectively report complaints to 311 (while supplies last).
When temperatures are at 32 degrees or below, warming areas are also available at the City’s six community service centers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The warming areas are available for all residents in need of safe refuge and relief from extreme cold weather. Learn more at the city’s website.
Seniors Staying Connected
The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) provides programs and supports to older adults aged 60 and better to keep them healthy, active and engaged. Check out the winter edition of the “Chicago Seniors Connected” program brochure to learn about virtual and in-person senior program offerings, including:
- Brain Health Series 1-6 provides techniques to support healthy cognitive development and possibly reduce the risk of dementia.
- Passport to the World Congregate Dining Program, featuring culturally diverse meals to seniors, representing the rich cultural and ethnic diversity found across the city. Menus and the site listing are included in the Winter Brochure. To date, 10,000 meals have been provided through this program.
- What’s in Your Closet? An outreach program to discuss services and strategies to help organize items and discard clutter within homes. This feeds into our virtual winter sessions of Buried In Treasures providing facilitated peer discussions on clearing and cleaning spaces to support the ability for seniors to age safely within their homes and communities.
- Programmatic opportunities available both virtually and in-person including fitness, recreational classes and health and wellness sessions (e.g., dietitian presentations such as Healthy New Year, Healthy New You on dietary changes and improved health as well as pharmacist presentations on stroke awareness and controlling diabetes).
The Shovel Squad is a volunteer-led program in the 40th Ward that pairs volunteers with a senior neighbors and folks with disabilities who are unable to shovel their walks. We dispatch shoveling volunteers when snowfall is 2 inches or more, or when conditions are particularly treacherous. We still need volunteers, so if you can commit to partnering with just one household to shovel their walks throughout the Winter season, sign up here! You can also see more details on our Volunteer Opportunities page.
40th Ward neighbors who qualify for can sign up for shoveling assistance here. Please remember that signing up is not a guarantee of assistance! This is a volunteer-led program, so the amount of neighbors we’re able to assist depends on the amount of volunteers who sign up.
Other Safety Tips
If you experience a power outage, contact ComEd immediately. You can text OUT to 26633 (COMED) to report an outage and receive restoration information, or call 1-800 EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661), or report outages via the website at ComEd.com/report. For Spanish-speakers, please call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237). You can also follow the company on Twitter or on Facebook for updates, or view ComEd’s interactive outage map.
Some things to keep in mind: when responding to power outages caused by storms, ComEd’s priority is to restore critical facilities such as police and fire stations, nursing homes and hospitals first, followed by repairs that will restore power to the greatest number of customers.
Public safety is paramount, so in the event of an outage, please take the following precautions:
- If a downed power line is spotted, immediately call ComEd at 1-800-EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661). Spanish-speaking customers should call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237).
- Never approach a downed power line. Always assume a power line is extremely dangerous and energized.
- In the event of an outage, do not approach ComEd crews working to restore power to ask about restoration times. Crews may be working on live electrical equipment, and the perimeter of the work zone may be hazardous.
Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind this winter:
- Keep your tailpipe clear when shoveling out your car. When you’re clearing snow from your car, start in the back and move forward, and take extra care to ensure that your tailpipe is clear of snow. A clogged tailpipe can have lethal consequences, by forcing carbon monoxide into the car.
- Keep ComEd equipment clear. In order to avoid losing power, please make sure not inadvertently bury your ComEd transformers and/or switchgear under snow! It’s important to make sure your equipment remains accessible in case they need to be accessed. ComEd requires at least 10 feet of open space in front of the equipment doors, and at least 1 foot of clearance on the other three sides.
- Check your phone or the television or radio for the weather. Make sure you’re informed so you can plan ahead for any major snow events!
- Make sure you stock up for any large snowstorms. Plan ahead by keeping a supply of shelf stable food that does not require cooking, such as cereal, crackers, tuna, nuts, dried fruit, canned goods, and water. If you normally get 30 days of medication, request larger supplies (e.g., 90 days) or look into having medication mailed to you. Make sure you have extra blankets, flashlights, and extra batteries.
- Make sure your carbon monoxide and fire detector are working. Don’t forget to stock up and batteries as well!
- In times of extreme cold, leave your water taps slightly open. Leaving a constant drip of water will protect your pipes against freezing.
Stay warm this winter! As always, you can contact the 40th Ward office at 773-654-1867 or submit a constituent request if there’s anything we can help with.