Winter break is not normal this year due to COVID-19, but some may still be leaving Iowa City over the holidays. If you're leaving town for an extended period, be sure your vehicle and home are in order before you leave. Avoid expensive fines and inconvenient issues by taking these four steps:

1. Move your car off 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, move your vehicle off the street. Vehicles that do not move face ticketing and towing at the owner’s expense.

If a major snow storm hits while you are away, the City may declare a Snow Emergency, meaning cars will need to move off of the street for snow plows. Vehicles that do not move will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

To learn more about Snow Emergencies in Iowa City, visit www.icgov.org/snow. Sign up for email and text alerts at www.icgov.org/subscribe and select ‘Snow Alert.’

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 24/7 Water Division Emergency Line at 319-356-5166.

3. Arrange for snow 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, making them accessible to everyone, especially for pedestrians with limited mobility.

Snowy sidewalks can result in a $100 fine, plus the cost to clear the sidewalks.

If you are a renter, be sure you know if it is you or your landlord’s duty 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 suspended or collected

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.

Date of publication

Friday, December 11, 2020

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