Homeland Security and Emergency Management Cautions Residents to Prepare for Winter Weather Challenges
The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, and other county departments have been working to ensure that Cook County is prepared to assist residents during winter months.
“Cook County is better prepared to handle winter weather challenges than ever before. Thanks to the leadership of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle we are now able to respond to and assist our partners if and when critical incidents occur in Cook County,” said DHSEM Executive Director Michael Masters. “Our new state of readiness has been developed in partnership with other entities and allows us to anticipate and respond to problems faster, which means getting needed services to residents quicker.”
Cook County departments, such as the Medical Examiner’s Office and other sister agencies are communicating with each other on a regular basis to ensure effective and efficient response. Improved outreach to local jurisdictions, continued enhancements to the County’s Extreme Weather Operations Plan, and the use of technology to better analyze and predict weather patterns allows Cook County to prepare to respond to issues before they arise.
“Cold-weather related deaths take place every year in Cook County. It is important that residents take steps to be prepared,” said Dr. Stephen Cina, Cook County Medical Examiner. “This includes ensuring functioning and safe heating for homes as well as checking on friends and neighbors during extreme cold.”
Residents are reminded to prepare emergency kits for their homes and vehicles, which include water, flashlights, blankets, and a weather radio. “We urge residents to make sure they have a family preparedness plan in the event of an incident. With dramatic swings in weather, such as what we have seen in the last few weeks, it is easy to think this is less important than in other years, but preparation remains vital. For the safety of you and your families, as well as our first responders, please make sure that your home is ready for winter, by making sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.” Masters said.
The National Weather Service is predicting average to above average temperatures and snowfall for this winter. The County’s Department of Transportation and Highways has been planning extensively for the winter weather season. “Our department has worked to ready equipment and obtain supplies to ensure we are ready whenever winter weather may strike.” Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways Director John Yonan said.
Warming centers are also available throughout the County; please consult the attached list. During particular times, County-operated facilities, including court buildings, hospitals, and others might also serve as warming centers, if they are needed. Please contact individual facilities to see if they are open and available.
Below is a list of suburban Cook County Warming Centers: