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5 things NOT to do at home during the arctic freeze

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AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – Forecasters are predicting an onslaught of heavy snow, ice, flooding and strong winds Thursday through Saturday across a wide swath of the country, from the Plains and Midwest to the East Coast. A surge of arctic air will follow. Christmas weekend could be the coldest in decades.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday that the storm was so large and encompassing that about 190 million people are currently under some type of winter weather advisory.

So if you’re preparing for a major temperature drop before Christmas, here are a few things that experts say shouldn’t be on the checklist.

Do not bring your grills or generators into your home

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death and is produced from fumes from outdoor fixtures such as grills and generators. CO poisoning is highest during severe, cold weather events; especially after the wind can cut off your electricity and you are looking for alternative sources of electricity. Every year, at least 430 people die in the United States from accidental CO poisoning, while 50,000 people have to go to the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Common CO symptoms to look out for include: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Be sure to change or check the batteries in your CO detector at least every six months.

Don’t turn on your sprinklers

Temperatures are expected to stay well below freezing for more than 48 hours in many places. Water coming out of your sprinklers will freeze immediately. In fact, if you leave your irrigation system running, chances are it will be damaged. It is best to drain the pipes if possible.

Don’t run your outdoor faucets

Your hose nozzles should be covered and sealed to prevent the hose from bursting.

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Don’t leave your water shut-off valve inaccessible

It is important to know where this valve is located and to ensure that it is accessible and that there is no trash or clutter blocking it. Practice turning it off and on again (make sure it’s not rusty). This valve is very important in case a water main freezes and bursts a pipe – it will allow you to turn off the water for the whole house.

Don’t leave your garage door open

It’s important to keep it closed so your home can stay warm more efficiently. This will also help protect your interior pipes.

Exception: If you plan to drive your car into your garage to allow your car to warm up, it is very important that you open your garage door afterwards to avoid CO poisoning.

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