By Mike Augustyniak

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Word of an arctic blast has many Minnesotans preparing mentally.

It’s also important to prepare tangible things like your home and your car.

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WCCO Director of Meteorology Mike Augustyniak talked to the experts with tips to keep you safe and warm.

“I was surprised, because I’m like, it’s February, it’s almost March and spring is coming,” Mai Ker Thao said.

The optimism is admirable, but spring is not coming yet.

The weekend forecast calls for subzero highs in the metro for only the 14th time in the past 10 years.

“We’re going to probably have a lot of dead batteries, people that don’t drive their vehicle as much anymore because of the pandemic,” Jordan Campbell of Bobby & Steve’s Auto World said. “They’re not going out, they’re not starting their car enough.”

Campbell said that cold-weather car care needs to be thought about differently this year.

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“I recommend going out and starting your car for a little bit every day. Try and run it for 20 minutes, if you can go maybe run errands or do something like that, just to keep the battery charged,” he said.

Of the most common mistakes people make, Jordan says, “Check your tire pressures. If you’re riding around on 4 or 5 pounds of air and you’re just getting by and not noticing a leak or maybe hit a block of ice or something like that it can crack a wheel, you can blow out a tire.”

At home or at the cabin, John Marshall of Xcel Energy says, “First and foremost from a safety standpoint, go out and take a look at your gas meter on the outside of your house. We’ve had a lot of snow the last few weeks and if it’s accumulated around there, keep that gas meter free and clear of snow and ice.”

“From a comfort standpoint, take advantage of the sun during the day,” he said. “It might be cold outside, but keep the drapes open, soak up that sunshine and that warmth in the house and at night, close the drapes, try and retain that heat as best as possible.”

Lows reached 20 to 40 below zero for three straight days to end January 2019, resulting in so much home heating demand that Xcel’s natural gas supply couldn’t keep up in Princeton, Minnesota, leaving homeowners in the cold.

Marshall said that won’t happen this time.

“We’ve made significant investments to kind of fortify our system, even more of the Princeton area has seen 13 miles of investment, larger pipes to manage and balance out those pressures,” he said.

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Click here for a list of cold weather resources.

Mike Augustyniak