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20110201_WinterEDINBURG — Wednesday will usher in a blast of wintry weather, quite the change from last weekend’s unseasonably warm temperatures.

Overnight low temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s Thursday through Saturday, with daytime highs only creeping into the 40s. According to the National Weather Service, freeze warnings are likely to be issued across portions of deep South Texas Wednesday through Saturday morning, with some areas experiencing a hard freeze. Hidalgo County residents are urged to prepare themselves, their homes, pets and plants to cope with such the sudden change in climate.

The Hidalgo County Fire Marshal’s Office has issued the following precautions:

Freeze Tips:

• Fuel vehicles. If the electrical grid shuts down because of power overuse, fuel pumps will not be operational. However, if you don’t need to drive, stay home or find another warm place. (The Salvation Army, located at the intersection of 23rd St. and Pecan Blvd. in McAllen, serves as a shelter year-round. They can be contacted at 956-682-1468.)

• If you must drive, drive carefully. The roads, primarily overpasses and elevated areas, could become icy and hazardous.

• Have a family plan and kit, just like in a hurricane situation. Food, water, medications and a source of heat like blankets and coats are necessities.

• Keep pets and plants warm. Cover outdoor plants and bring pets indoors or provide them with adequate shelter.

• To avoid bursting and freezing pipes, let water slowly drip from the faucets in your home.

Heater Safety Tips:

• Use caution and carefully monitor your heater, especially if using a space heater. Keep flammable items and young children away from the heat source.

• If you are using a gas heater, ensure it is working properly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Do not use outdoor cooking utensils or your oven in your kitchen for heat.

• Do not burn charcoal or wood indoors.

• Ensure you have a working smoke alarm. Often, fires are caused by faulty heaters or unsafe methods.

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