Before traveling for the winter break, the University of Missouri Police Department recommends a few simple steps to safeguard your home and belongings while out of town.

“If you’re driving to your destination, make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip,” said Crime Prevention Officer James Young. “And always let someone know when you’re leaving and when you are expected back.”

Picture of Francis Quadrangle, Jesse Hall in feb snowstorm

The University of Missouri Police Department share tips for preparing home and vehicle for winter weather and travel.

Enjoy safer travels and a happier return by following these tips:

Before leaving, unplug — it saves energy

  • Laptops/desktops
  • Televisions
  • Modems
  • Coffeemakers
  • Lamps
  • Microwaves
  • Cellphone chargers
  • Surge protectors (flip switch)
  • Space heaters

Secure belongings

  • The best thing to do with valuables is bring them along or stow them out of sight in a closet, locked trunk or lockable storage area.
  • Take bicycles home or inside and lock them to a stationary item.
  • MU students, faculty and staff can register bicycles and electronics with MUPD. If property is lost or stolen, registration increases the chance of getting items back.
    Note: An active MU pawprint and password is required to register.

Lock up

  • No matter the floor, lock all windows and doors and remind roommates/other family members to do the same.

Prepare room/apartment/house

  • Take out the trash.
  • Clean the refrigerator, and remove anything that has the slightest chance of going bad.
  • Remove any other perishable foods from home.
  • Turn down the heat, but not too low so pipes don’t freeze. Experts recommend no lower than 50 degrees.
  • Place mail on hold with United State Postal Service.

Prepare vehicle

  • Check fluid levels (especially windshield washer fluid), belts/hoses and tire pressure.
  • Make sure cellphone is fully charged and take a portable charger.
  • Keep an ice scraper, flashlight (with extra batteries), jumper cables and bag of rock salt, cat litter or sand.
  • Maintain at least a half-tank of gas to avoid getting stranded or forced to stop someplace unsafe.
  • Have provisions on hand in case of getting stranded — blankets, water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, coats, hats, boots and mittens.
  • If stranded and have to stay in vehicle, run the engine for heat, but make sure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed by snow or mud. If not running the engine running the whole time, close the windows to keep heat inside, and run the car for 10 minutes every hour, cracking open a front window while doing so.

If leaving a vehicle in a university parking lot or garage over the winter break, remove all valuables, close the windows tightly and lock the doors.