CHICAGO (CBS) — On the heels of a historic winter storm that blanketed much of Illinois in several inches of snow, and brought dangerous wind chills, Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday issued a disaster proclamation for the entire state.

More than 18 inches of snow fell on some parts of the Chicago area since Sunday, including 17.7 inches at Midway International Airport. Tuesday was the 9th day in a row with measurable snowfall in Chicago, tying a record set in February 2018. Most of the state got at least 4 inches of snow from the storm, according to data from the National Weather Service.

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Pritzker’s office said the heavy snowfall left approximately 7,000 households across the state without power as of late Tuesday morning, “and that number is expected to fluctuate as the strain of arctic temperatures and extreme weather continues.”

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Frequent sub-zero temperatures across the state over the past couple weeks also have caused a spike in demand for natural gas, while wells have frozen in key natural gas-producing states — such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas — causing a spike in natural gas prices.

The governor’s office said, without intervention from the federal government, rising natural gas prices could result in higher utility bills across Illinois in the coming weeks.

“Proper home heating is a critical issue during the winter months, and over time has proven deadly for many families,” Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said in a statement. “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.”

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The state offered the following tips to help households conserve energy while keeping winter safety a priority.

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

Meantime, the Illinois Department of Public Health warned the severe weather could result in reduced shipments of COVID-19 vaccines in the next few days. Chicago closed its city-run vaccination and virus testing sites on Tuesday, and warned vaccine shipments are being delayed, and some upcoming appointments may have to be rescheduled.

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Chicago Public Schools also canceled in-person classes on Tuesday due to the weather.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff