The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Preparing for Cold Weather in Illinois

Be Careful in Winter Temperatures in Chicago

During the winter, the temperatures in Chicago can become really cold. Every year, people in Chicago lose their lives due to the cold temperatures. It’s important to know the temperature outside so you can plan your activities and dress appropriately. Staying outside for too long in cold temperatures is very dangerous.

It's best to stay indoors if the temperature falls below 0°F (-18°C).

Read more to learn how to protect yourself and your family from the cold.

Know the Temperature

In the United States we measure temperature in Fahrenheit. The chart below shows the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius.



















Wind Chill

When the wind is blowing the air will feel even colder! The wind blows the warmth away from your body, which can make your colder faster and make the conditions outside more dangerous. This is called “sensación térmica.” In English, we call this “wind chill.”

How Do I Know if I'm Too Cold?

Know the symptoms of hypothermia and frost bite.

  • Hypothermia

Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A body temperature below 95° Fahrenheit (35° Celsius) is considered an emergency. 


  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion 
  • Clumsiness 
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech or drowsiness


  • Go to a warm room
  • Warm the core of your body first - chest, neck, head and groin 
  • Stay dry and wrapped in warm blankets, including your head and neck
  • Stay hydrated with warm drinks. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. 
  • If severe, call 911


  • Frostbite

Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes. In severe cases, frost bite can lead to loss of fingers, toes, and skin on the face. 


  • Numbness
  • White, grayish-yellow or waxy skin 
  • Firm/hard skin


  • Go to a warm room
  • Soak in warm water 
  • Use body heat to warm up. Do not massage or apply heat pad.  
  • If severe, call 911

Dress for the Cold Weather

Dressing appropriately for cold temperatures is important to keep you and your family safe. If you do not have the clothes and boots you need to stay warm, do not go out when the temperatures are very low.

  • Free Winter Clothing

There are two places in Oak Park that have free winter weather clothing and shoes. Ask for help with clothing so you are prepared for the winter weather in Chicago.

Centro San Edmundo

Open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30 am to 11 am

200 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, Illinois 60302


St Christopher’s Episcopal Church

St. C.'s Community Migrant Closet | St. Christopher's Oak Park (

Fill out the form to request clothing and follow the instructions to email it.

Inside your home

Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Never use a generator, grill, or any other device that burns fuel of any kind indoors, as it can produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning can make you feel sick and sleepy, can cause you to pass out, and can lead to death.

If using a space heater, be sure to keep it on a hard, level surface and keep it away from anything flammable.

Prevent infant deaths during sleep. Dress your baby in layers of warm clothing. Use a tight-fitting flannel sheet for the crib. If you need to use a blanket, place the baby with feet at the end of the crib and tuck the edges of the blanket under the mattress. Cover your baby only up to the chest. Always keep the blanket away from your baby's face to prevent suffocation.

Leaving Your Home

Do not go outside if you’re not dressed appropriately for cold temperatures.

Stay hydrated. When you are cold, you may not notice when you are thirsty. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine.

It is always best to avoid driving during extremely cold weather, however, if you must travel, be sure to keep blankets, flashlights, and snacks in your vehicle in case you get stranded. 

You should also make sure your cell phone is charged and someone knows where you’re going before you leave.

Shoveling Snow

When shoveling heavy snow or walking long distances in deep snow, make sure you do not overexert yourself.  Sometimes people suffer heart attacks while doing work outside in very low temperatures.  If you must work outside in very cold conditions, wear layers of dry, warm clothing, take frequent breaks, and sip warm beverages that do not contain caffeine or alcohol.