AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – Forecasters predict an onslaught of heavy snow, ice, flooding and powerful winds from Thursday to Saturday in a broad swath of the country, from the Plains and Midwest to the East Coast. A surge of Arctic air will follow. The Christmas weekend could be the coldest in decades.
The National Weather Service said Wednesday the storm was so large and encompassing that around 190 million people are currently under some type of winter weather advisory.
So if you are preparing for a sizable temperature drop before Christmas, here are a few things experts say should not be on the checklist.
Don’t 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 the fumes from outdoor accessories such as grills and generators. CO poisoning is highest during severe and cold weather events; especially after winds knock out power and people are searching for alternative sources of electricity. Each year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning, while 50,000 people have to visit the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Common CO symptoms to look out for are: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Make sure to change or check the batteries in your CO detector at least every six months.
Don’t turn on your sprinklers
Temperatures are forecasted to stay well below freezing for over 48 hours in many spots. Water coming out of your sprinklers will immediately freeze. In fact, if you leave your irrigation system running there is a high likelihood it will get damaged. It is best to drain the pipes if possible.
Don’t drip your outside faucets
Your hose spigots need to be covered and turned off to protect the pipe from bursting.
Don’t keep your water shut-off valve inaccessible
It’s important to learn where this valve is located and make sure it is accessible and no junk or clutter is blocking it. Practice turning it off and on. Make sure it is not rusted. This valve is very important in case a water line freezes over and causes a pipe to burst, as it would allow you to shut off the water for the entire house.
Don’t keep your garage door open
It is important to keep it closed so your house will be able to remain warm more efficiently. This will help protect your interior pipes as well.
Exception: If you plan on running your car in your garage in order to allow your car to heat up, it is very important you then open your garage door to avoid CO poisoning.