Health experts warn of dangerously cold temps in Chicago

With dangerously cold temperatures expected to hit Chicagoland Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, health experts are urging caution for those heading outdoors.

A Wind Chill Advisory, which took effect at 8 p.m. Tuesday, will last until noon Wednesday, Jan. 26 – with wind chill values reaching as low as 25 degrees below zero. 

"You could definitely get frostbite in half an hour," said Dr. Robert Feldman, Stroger Hospital.

Feldman said the first signs of frostbite are pain and burning sensations on the skin. If that pain turns into numbness, he said serious damage may lie ahead.   

"Unfortunately we sometimes see people who manage to get their feet completely frozen and end up losing tissue," said Feldman.

Still, for many without stable housing, being outside is unavoidable.

The city and suburbs have activated numerous warming centers. Those looking for shelter and refuge from the cold are encouraged to call 311.

"With the extreme cold, just as with the heat waves, it’s really important to check on people," said Feldman.

Feldman said in extremely cold temperatures, checking on your elderly neighbors can save a life.

"Make sure they have heat, and if for some reason the heat is interrupted, they have to get somewhere, whether to a warming center or with family," said Feldman.


The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend the use of space heaters. If used – they should be UL certified and at least three feet from anything that can ignite. Space heaters should also be monitored closely while in-use.

In order to avoid freezing pipes, Chicago’s Department of Water Management suggests that residents keep a trickle of water running.

Due to the frigid temperatures, some school districts are closing their doors or transitioning to e-learning on Wednesday. Joliet School District #86 announced classes and after-school activities are canceled Wednesday. The district has already set a make-up date for June 1.

Schools transitioning to e-learning on Wednesday include River Forest School Corporation, Charter School of the Dunes, Crown Point Community School Corporation, Gary Community School Corporation, and Joliet School District #204.

For a full list of school closures, click here: