CHICAGO (CBS) — The race is on to get homes ready for the dangerous freeze, and experts have some advice on what you can do to protect your home from the extreme cold.

Tele-Tron Ace Hardware in west suburban Berwyn was a popular spot on Tuesday, as shoppers flocked in ahead of what could be record-breaking temperatures the next few days.

“They’re coming in for salt, also coming in for pipe installation. They’re coming in for heaters. Definitely salt. As we see, we’re out of it at the moment, but we’re expecting a delivery later on today,” owner Macario Rodriguez said.

The arctic front is expected to be so cold that salt can lose its effectiveness in preventing ice on sidewalks.

Home heating systems can malfunction, and water pipes can burst in the extreme cold, so contractor David Schwager, owner of QBR Services, offered some simple steps to protect your home.

“The first thing you want to do is make sure your windows are closed, secured, and locked. This is going to keep the seal on the window. It’s going to keep your windows efficient as possible. Next thing you want to do, you want to close all your window treatments,” he said. “

Schwager said you also should open all the vents from your furnace, and place towels in front of the spaces on drafty doors.

Most importantly, you should make sure your furnace filter is clean, so it will run as efficiently as possible.

If you have a lot of snow built up outside your windows, you should clean it off to prevent ice damming; when water backs up behind ice and leaks into walls, ceilings, and insulation.

Schwager said you should not only have your thermostat set at a comfortable temperature, but make sure you have extra batteries. If the thermostat goes out, your furnace or boiler won’t run, “and you’re in a world of hurt.”

You should also keep a faucet or two at a slow drip when the temperatures get well below freezing, to keep water moving in your pipes and prevent freezing. Single handle faucets should have a slow drip of warm water, dual handle faucets should have a slow drip of cold water.

If your kitchen or bathroom pipes are on an exterior wall, you should also make sure they’re exposed to warm air. So, if they’re in a cabinet, you can drape a towel over the cabinet door to keep it open a crack so air can get in.

“You want to try to keep all this area as warm as possible. If you do see that they’re actually getting a little bit of frost on them, you can use a hair dryer and actually kind of warm them up a little bit. Get that frost off, and make sure they don’t freeze up,” Schwager said.

Also, make sure you have a clear path to the water meter and shutoff valves, so if you do have a broken pipe, you can turn off the water as quickly as possible to minimize damage from a leak.