The forecast for St. Charles calls for dangerously low temperatures and winchills. The St. Charles Fire Department would like to remind everyone of some basic precautions that should be taken when temperatures plunge below freezing.
Cold Weather Safety Tips
- Dress in layers and limit exposed skin. Limit outdoor activity to only what is necessary.
- Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms: numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin. More information from the Center for Disease Control here.
- Check local weather forecasts and limit travel when weather is severe.
- Be extremely careful using space heaters and allow for proper distances between the unit and anything combustible. This includes furniture and bedding materials.
- Do not use the oven or other makeshift devices to heat your apartment or home.
We advise people to stay indoors. But if you are out and need a break from the cold, visit these facilities during normal operating hours to warm up:
- St. Charles Public Library, 1 South 6th Avenue PLEASE NOTE:The library is closing at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 and will be closed all day Jan. 30. However, one meeting room will be open Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as an emergency warming shelter.
- Municipal Building, 2 E. Main Street
- St. Charles Park District Pottawatomie Community Center, 8 North Avenue
- Lazarus House, 214 Walnut Street offers shelter overnight, based on availability
Assume All Ice is Dangersous Ice
Be very aware of the dangers of walking on ice-covered bodies of water. Ice thickness and stability are never guaranteed. There is simply no such thing as “safe ice.”
Conidtions Affecting Ice Stability
- Temperatures of the preceding days as well as on the day you are on the ice
- The depth of any snow cover
- The depth of water under the ice
- The size of the body of water
- Any sustained fluctuations in temperature
- Extent of ice coverage
Warning Signs of Unstable Ice
- Flowing water near or at the edges of the ice
- Water flows in an/or out of the iced-over water body
- Cracks, breaks or holes
- Ice that appears to have thawed and refrozen
- Abnormal surfaces that you have not seen before –e.g., pressure ridges caused by currents or winds
"Stay away from the river or other bodies of water, even if they seem frozen. The threat of hypothermia escalates when you are submersed in icy water," advises St. Charles Fire Chief Joseph Schelstreet. "If your pet runs out on the ice, DO NOT follow it. If it does fall through the ice, DO NOT attempt to rescue the animal yourself. Call 911 and the Fire Department will evaluate and aid in the effort to rescue pets in the water. Firefighters have the appropriate protective equipment for cold water rescue and are ready to assist. Anyone with questions regarding cold weather issues can always call the Fire Department at 630-377-4457."
Ice Jams Create Flooding Risk
Ice can form on the river or streams, obstructing the water flow and creating flooding. If you come across a flooded road, don't drive on it. Call 911 to report the flooding and then turn around and find a different route.
Be sure to check on elderly neighbors and relatives, or anyone living alone during these extreme weather conditions. Pitch in to help clear neighborhood sidewalks and dig out fire hydrants so they are ready in an emergency.