If you need to leave home for a while, whether for travel or an emergency, there are a few things you should do before you go.

Something you might not think about is how to check to ensure your refrigerator has been running the whole time you’ve been gone. If you live in an area where there are frequent power outages—say from ice storms or a hurricane—there’s a real possibility that your freezer might be off for an extended period.

Fortunately, there is a very simple tip that will let you know if your frozen foods have been compromised. You’ll only need three things for this: a mug, a coin, and some water. The first thing you’ll do is to place the mug full of water in your freezer. Once it’s frozen, just lay the coin on top of the ice. That’s all you need to do.

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When you return, if the coin is still on top of the ice, you’ll know that your freezer has been working the whole time you’ve been gone. If the ice is completely melted or if the coin is now at the bottom of the ice, you’ll know that your food has been compromised and should probably be thrown away.

If the coin is frozen in the middle of the ice, your food should probably still be safe.

That means your freezer went off for a little bit, but likely turned back on before the food could spoil. This ice block provides a great snapshot of how well your freezer functioned while you were gone.

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This trick can be very helpful if you need to evacuate due to a natural disaster. If you aren’t sure whether the power went out, the frozen coin trick will tell you everything you need to know.

Being certain that your freezer has been working is just one thing you’ll need to do if you have to leave home for a few days. There are some other tricks a homeowner should do to try to prevent an emergency while the house is unoccupied.

Aside from leaving the ice in the freezer with the coin, the homeowner should leave a little bit of water running in the wintertime.

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If the house loses power and loses heat, water in the pipes may freeze, causing the pipes to burst. Leaving just a little bit of water running ensures that there is water flowing through the pipes, which should prevent them from completely freezing.

If the there is a stack of mail or newspapers outside a house, that sends a loud message that there’s no one home.

This tells the robbers to come on in, but these quick and easy steps will help ensure your home doesn’t appear unoccupied. Fill out a simple form on the U.S. Postal Service website to have your mail held for you. If you get your local daily paper, contact their subscription office to let them know not to deliver when you’re gone. 

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A lived-in home has lights that go off and on, not lights that sit in the same position for days at a time. Put your lights on a timer. You can buy very inexpensive timers at any discount department or hardware store. That way if someone is casing your home, it will appear that there are people inside. This may ultimately cause robbers to move along and look for another target that appears unoccupied.