University Park, IL,
16:27 PM

Weathering Winter

Although the recent bitter cold is moving out of the area, winter is far from over. With classes just beginning, the notorious changeability of Chicago weather shouldn’t be overlooked (or underestimated).

Whether the Polar Vortexes of the past bring you joyous or miserable memories, there are five steps the Governors State University Emergency Response Team would like to remind the community to take before the bitter cold snaps.

1. Take precautions. ERT Co-Chair Corey Williams encourages staff and students to have water, blankets, and emergency kits in their cars in the event an emergency finds you stranded in your vehicle with no gas or as a result of an accident. "Being prepared for winter is part of being safe,'' Williams warns. At minimum, the National Safety Council recommends keeping these items in your car or trunk:

  • Blankets, mittens, socks and hats
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Flashlight, plus extra batteries (or a hand-crank flashlight)
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit (band-aides, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic cream, medical wrap). 
  • Bottled water
  • Multi-tool (such as a Leatherman Tool or a Swiss Army Knife)
  • Road flares or reflective warning triangles
  • Windshield cleaner

Additional tips to stay safe and warm on campus are available at on a six-minute ERT emergency preparedness video.

For faculty and staff, Facilities, Development and Management (FDM) advises windows should be closed when they leave the office for the day. FDM also recommends fan be set to the lowest set point 24/7 to prevent frozen coils and burst pipes.

2. Adjust your driving habits. “Snowy or ice-coated roads and reduced visibility due to fog or blowing snow result in thousands of motor vehicle crashes in Illinois every year. Many of these can be avoided by simply slowing down on city streets, rural roads and highways. Recent traffic studies have shown that many times, minor accumulations of snow or ice on roads can be just as dangerous for motorists as major snowstorms," according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency site.

3. Get the flu shot. Winter weather means flu season is here! Take care to prevent illness due to colds and flu. Remember to cover coughs, wash hands frequently, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Consider staying home and using sick leave if you are contagious or have the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Frequent cough
  • Any rash with a fever
  • Ear pain and/or eye drainage
  • Sore throat with a fever and/or rash

4. Update your contact information

A few times a year, severe weather can lead to campus closure, a delayed start, or a suspension of classes for all or part of the day. This only occurs when weather conditions are such that it would be very unsafe for students or employees to attempt to go to work or class, but it does happen. Make sure we know how to reach you so that you don't try to brave potentially treacherous winter roads unnecessarily.

If you are a student, please complete a Change of Student Information form and submit it to the Registrar's Office. You may submit the completed form, including a copy of your picture ID, via fax to the Registrar's Office at 708.534.1640, or you may drop it off in person at C1300. If you have any questions, please contact the Registrar's Office or call 708.534.4500.

If you are a faculty or staff member, please complete a Name/Address/Phone Change form and submit it to Human Resources. You may submit the completed form to the Human Resources department in person in C1360 or via email. If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources at 708.534.4100.

5. Check for closure notifications

Emergency Management updates the weather advisory page with resources to check on weather watches, warnings, and advisories, but you can also download myGSU Mobile (available on iTunes and Google Play), the official mobile app of Governors State University. The app provides weather alerts and emergency communications and can also be used to check grades, see course schedule and keep up with all GSU news and events.

Administration aims to make the decision by 5:00 a.m. for overnight storms. On rare occasions, some circumstances push the decision to a later time.

When on-campus evening classes are canceled, announcement of this decision will normally be made by 3:00 p.m. and all classes starting at or after 4:30 p.m. will normally be affected.

Please note that when the campus is closed preventing a class from meeting at its scheduled time, professors may opt to conduct classes or provide assignments online. Students should plan to check Blackboard and their email regularly on such days to learn of any alternate arrangements.

In addition, check Instagram and Facebook for communications. In many instances, emergency communications and alerts regarding weather delays or campus closings are being reported on social media.

Stay safe and warm, Jaguars!