As you prepare to head out of town for the holidays, be sure your vehicle and home are in order before you leave. Avoid expensive and inconvenient issues by taking these four steps: 

1. Move your car off of the street 

Vehicles parked on the street must be moved every 48-hours to avoid a citation. If you plan to be out of town for more than two days, make sure your vehicle has been moved off the street. Vehicles that do not move face ticketing and towing at the owner’s expense.

In addition to the 48-hour rule, if a major snow storm happens while you are away, the City may declare a Snow Emergency, which means cars will need to get off of the street to accommodate snow plows. Cars that fail to move will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense. To learn more about Snow Emergencies in Iowa City, visit Sign up for email and text alerts at and select ‘Snow Alert.’

Save yourself the risk of tickets and towing, move your car before you leave.

2. Prevent frozen pipes 

Cold weather can lead to frozen pipes, which have the potential to burst and cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home or rental. Avoid frozen pipes with these tips:

  • Don’t turn your heat off completely, keep it set to at least 55 degrees
  • Close windows, but keep doors open to rooms that contain plumbing, like kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms
  • Ask someone to check on your home while you are away and show them where the water shut-off valve is located, typically in the basement between the water meter and wall

For water emergencies, call the Water Division Emergency Line at 319-356-5166.

3. Arrange for sidewalk shoveling 

If it snows while you are away, know that sidewalks must be cleared of a one inch or greater snowfall within 24-hours after it has stopped falling. The entire walk must be cleared to make room for all users, including strollers and wheelchairs. Snowy sidewalks can result in a $100 fine, plus the cost to clear the sidewalks.

If you are a renter, know if it’s you or your landlord’s responsibility to clear sidewalks. 

4. Protect your property 

Take a moment to ensure your home and belongings are locked. Avoid break-ins, theft and vandalism with these tips:

  • Make it look like someone is home
  • Arrange to have your newspapers and mail collected by someone you know
  • Set up lamps on timers so they turn on and off throughout the day
  • Move your garbage and recycling bins away from the curb
  • Lock vehicle doors
  • Move bicycles and other valuable items inside or lock them  
  • Ask a neighbor or friend to check on your home and to keep an eye out for anything suspicious

For more information, contact Communications Coordinator Shannon McMahon at or 319-356-5058.

Date of publication

Thursday, November 08, 2018