Spring & Winter Break Tips for Residents

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Many residents, including college students, leave town for spring and winter break. No matter where you go, it's important to prepare your home for your absence, especially during periods of potentially cold and snowy weather.

Follow these preventative steps to make sure your car and home are taken care of during break.

  • Arrange for someone to shovel your sidewalk.
  • Make sure your home and property are secure.
  • Prepare for a snow emergency: move your car off the street.
  • Take all precautions to prevent household pipes from freezing.

Prepare for a Snow Emergency

cars parked on side of snowy roadDuring winter break, and even during spring break, Iowa City can expect snowstorms. If a snow emergency is declared, and your car is left parked on the street, it can be ticketed and towed. You could also incur $200 or more in fines.

Be sure to move your car off the streets before heading home for a long break, or arrange for someone to move it for you. More information about snow emergencies can be found on the Snow Emergency page and you can sign up for snow emergency notifications.

Snow Shoveling

boots and shovel in snowEven when you're away, tenants or property owners are still responsible for shoveling their sidewalks after snow accumulates. Plan ahead with your landlord, roommate, neighbor, or someone else to be sure your sidewalks are shoveled.

Sidewalks must be cleared of snow 24 hours after the snow has stopped. Failure to do so will result in the cost to have your sidewalk cleared, plus a $100 fine. More about the ordinance can be found on our Good Neighbor Property Management page.

Prevent Household Pipes from Freezing

faucetIt can be tempting to turn off your heat completely when vacationing to save money, but such a decision could be disastrous. If cold enough, pipes throughout any property could freeze or burst. Take these steps instead to ensure pipes remain working while you are gone.

  • Never turn your heat off completely. You can lower it, but never lower than 55 degrees.
  • Close windows and storm windows, but keep doors open to bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms that have plumbing or water fixtures.
  • Arrange for someone you trust to check your home while you're away and show them where the water shut-off valve is, just in case.

In case of a water emergency, call the Water Division's emergency line at 319-356-5166.

Home and Property Protection

open doorBefore leaving town, take measures to protect your home from break-ins, vandalism, or other crimes. 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. Here are some tips that you can follow to keep your home safe while you're away.

  • Lock all doors and windows, including those to the garage.
  • Have newspapers and mail held or picked up each day by someone who is checking your house.
  • Set up some inside lamps on timers so that they turn on and off throughout the day.
  • Move your garbage can and recycling bin away from the curb.
  • Lock vehicle doors.
  • Move bicycles and other valuable items inside or lock them up.