Chicagoans love to commiserate about the character-building extremes of our weather, and chances are most of your conversations in the last week have involved some combination of the words “record-breaking cold,” “instant frostbite,” and “tissue-killing temperatures.”
You don’t have to suffer, Chicago, and there are free ways to cope with the cold other than burning all of your belongings in a bonfire in your living room.
Remind your landlord about the Heat Ordinance
If you don’t control the heat inside your unit, your landlord is required to maintain a temperature minimum of 68 degrees from 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM and 66 degrees from 10:30 PM to 8:30 AM from September 15 through June 1.
If you suspect your landlord isn’t complying with the ordinance but you don’t have a thermostat inside your place, several free smartphone apps measure indoor air temps. Landlords can be fined up to $500 every day per violation, so don’t be shy about reporting them to 311.
Take refuge in a warming center
Every winter, the city operates six free warming centers where residents can escape the cold, and this year the Chicago Park District has designated 62 field houses as centers for the rest of the season.
The six original warming centers are open from 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, and the park district field houses each have their own hours. Call 311 to get information about which warming center is closest to you and when it’s available.
Bundle TF up
This is no time to be fashionable (looking at you, person wearing sneakers and no socks on the el), and the best strategy may just be to pile on every ugly article of winter clothing anyone has ever given you.
According to the National Weather Service, at wind chills of minus 50, you’re susceptible to frostbite in as little as ten minutes. Be kind to your extremities, and they’ll be kind to you.
Stay warm, y’all. v