Iowa City residents as well as University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College students who are leaving town for the holidays or the Rose Bowl are reminded of a few things to do before they go:

Prepare for a possible snow emergency

If a major snowstorm occurs while you’re gone, the City of Iowa City may call a snow emergency, which means cars will need to be moved off the street to accommodate snow plows. To avoid being ticketed and towed and having to pay $200 or more in fines and fees, move your car off the street if you don’t plan to take it with you, or arrange for someone to move it in your absence. For more information on snow emergencies and what to do in case one is declared, visit You may also sign up for snow emergency notifications at

Prevent household pipes from freezing

Just in case a bitter cold spell blows into town while you’re gone, take measures to protect your home or apartment from freezing pipes that can burst, causing thousands of dollars of damage to your home or apartment, as well as apartments adjacent to yours.

Some tips to avoid freezing pipes:

  • Never turn your heat completely off. While you may want to lower your thermostat, never set it lower than 55 degrees.
  • Close windows and storm windows, but keep doors open to bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms that contain plumbing or water fixtures open to keep warm air circulating.
  • Arrange for someone to check your home while you’re gone. Show them where the water shut-off valve is located (usually in the basement, between the water meter and a wall). In case of a water emergency, they should call the Water Division’s emergency line at 319-356-5166.


Homeowners and tenants who are responsible for shoveling the walk and crosswalks should find someone to cover that chore while they’re gone. If there’s a fire hydrant on your property, ask them to clear a path around that, too.

Home and property protection

Before you leave town, take measures to protect your home from break-ins, vandalism, or other crimes. Lock all doors and windows, including those to the garage. Arrange to have your newspapers and mail held or picked up each day by someone who’s checking your house. Set up some inside lamps on timers so that they turn on and off throughout the day, and move your garbage can and recycling bin away from the curb. Lock your vehicle doors. Move bicycles and other valuable items inside or lock them up. Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity at your home while you’re gone, and let them know if you will be having someone check the house. You’ll enjoy your time away even more, knowing that you’ve taken measures to protect your home and property while you’re gone.

For more information, contact Carol Sweeting with the City of Iowa City Public Works Department at 319-541-2385 or


Date of publication

Wednesday, December 09, 2015