CAPS suggestions for winter safety: Weather Preparedness

Winter weather preparedness is the key to winter safety according to Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies (CAPS). 

"Also, if you know of an elderly person who may need some assistance, please give them a call or stop by and say hello," suggests 12th Police District's CAPS Seargent Juan Clas. "It's times like these when we all have to work together and help each other.

"If you or anyone else needs assistance please call 311. If it's an emergency please call 911, so we can get the proper emergency vehicle to your location." 



  • - Stay indoors in a heated room as much as possible.
  • - When using alternative heat, such as heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc., use safeguards and ensure proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or creating fires.
  • - If you have no heat, close off unneeded rooms and place towels or rags under the doors.
  • - Hang blankets over windows at night, but let the sun shine in during the day. Cover cracks around doors with rugs, newspapers, towels, or other similar materials.


  • - Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. The body is already working hard to keep warm, so avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and hard labor could cause a heart attack at any age. This is a major cause of death in the winter. Do NOT ignore chest pain or tightness in your chest. If you must perform heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly.
  • - If you become stranded outdoors seek shelter to stay dry. Cover all exposed body parts.
  • - Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia:
    • Frostbite – a severe reaction of the skin to the exposure of cold. Frostbite can permanently damage fingers, toes, the nose and ear lobes. Symptoms are numbness and a white or pale appearance to the skin. When symptoms are apparent, slowly warm the affected areas and seek medical attention immediately.
    • Hypothermia – or low body temperature, a condition brought on when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees. This can be life-threatening!! Symptoms of hypothermia include slow or slurred speech, incoherence, memory loss, disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness, repeated stumbling and apparent exhaustion. If any of these symptoms are detected, begin to warm the body core first. Do NOT warm the arms and legs first – this can force the cold blood from your cold extremities back towards the heart and can lead to heart failure. Get yourself or the person into dry clothing and wrap them in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do NOT give the victim alcohol, drugs or coffee. These cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help maintain your body temperature.
    • o Wind Chill – Most of the time, cold is judged by a thermometer reading. Wind chill is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. The wind chill shows how cold the wind makes exposed skin feel and is a good way to determine the potential for frostbite or hypothermia.


  • - Wear loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. The trapped air between the layers insulates. When feeling too warm, layers can be removed to avoid perspiration which leads to increased heat loss. Do NOT ignore shivering! It is an important first sign that the body is losing heat.
  • - Wear outer garments that are tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
  • - Wear a hat. Half of our body heat is lost through the top of the head.
  • - Wear mittens that are snug at the wrist. Gloves allow your fingers to cool much faster than mittens. Mittens offer better protection against cold temperatures.
  • - Cover the mouth and nose with scarves to help protect lungs from cold air.
  • - Keep your feet as dry as possible. Wear wool socks.


   Keep several days' supply of these items:

  • - Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration, such as bread, crackers, cereal, canned foods, and drie fruits.
  • - Water stored in clean containers, or purchased bottled water (5 gallons per person) in case your water  pipes freeze and rupture.
  • - Medicines that any family members may need.


  • - an alternate way to heat your room
  • - electric space heater with automatic shut-off switch and non-glowing elements
  • - blankets
  • - matches
  • - multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher
  • - first aid kit and instruction manual
  • - flashlight or battery-powered lantern
  • - battery-powered radio
  • - battery-powered clock or watch
  • - extra batteries
  • - non-electric can opener
  • - snow shovel
  • - rock salt
  • - special needs items (diapers, hearing aid batteries, medications, etc.)


  • - Make sure your radiator system is serviced and add antifreeze, as needed.
  • - Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  • - Replace worn tires and make sure to check air pressure in your tires.
  • - During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.


  • - blankets
  • - first aid kit
  • - a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for water)
  • - windshield scraper
  • - booster cables
  • - road maps
  • - mobile phone
  • - compass
  • - tool kit
  • - paper towels
  • - bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice for added traction)
  • - tow rope
  • - collapsible shovel
  • - container of water and high calorie canned or dried foods and a can opener
  • - flashlight and extra batteries
  • - brightly colored cloth

The 12th District used information from the center for Disease Control and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to prepare this warning.


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