SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued a statewide disaster proclamation following Monday evening’s winter storm that left several counties with power outages, massive snowfall, and life-threatening wind chills.
The administration reported an estimate of 7,000 Illinois households without power as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16. That number is expected to vary with arctic temperatures and extreme weather persisting into the evening.
Pritzker said all residents are encouraged to take appropriate measures to safely conserve energy.
“I have directed my administration to use all resources at our disposal to keep our communities safe amid dangerous and ongoing winter weather,” Pritzker said. “We are in communication with local governments to ensure they have the support they need in disaster response and recovery operations. We are also working with our federal partners to pursue federal assistance to help communities recover and to do what we can to protect ratepayers from soaring utility bills. I urge all Illinoisans to take this extreme weather seriously, avoid all unnecessary travel and check in on your neighbors.”
Extreme weather conditions also froze wells in states producing natural gas, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Sub-zero temperatures are driving increased demand and decreased supply, meaning natural gas prices will spike.
Meanwhile, utility companies are reporting soaring wholesale costs nationwide. The administration said those increased prices could result in higher utility bills for Illinois residents in the coming weeks should the federal government not intervene.
“Proper home heating is a critical issue during the winter months, and over time has proven deadly for many families,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “If using an alternative heating source during this extreme weather, take a moment to ensure that your carbon monoxide detector is working properly. The proper safety precautions can save lives during extreme weather.”
The administration offered tips for residents to stay warm as the freezing temperatures continue to linger:
WINTERIZE YOUR HOME: Winterize your home to extend your fuel supply
- Insulate walls and attics
- Caulk and weatherize doors and windows
- Hang blankets over windows at night but let the sunshine in during the day
- Cover cracks around doors with rugs, newspapers, towels or other such material
WHEN AT HOME: Safely conserve energy
- Stay indoors in a heated room as much as possible
- If you have no heat, close doors and vents in unused rooms and shut the doors
- Turn down your home’s thermostat just a few degrees and bundle up with layers or a thick blanket
- Lower the temperature on your home water heater a few degrees
- Avoid using large appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, or dryers
- Reverse your ceiling fan to turn clockwise, producing an updraft that will move the warm air that collects near your ceiling down to the rest of the room
- If using alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc., use safeguards and ensure proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
Pritzker encouraged Illinoisans to check on their neighbors during this time, especially elderly neighbors who may need assistance.