Make sure your smoke alarms are in working condition. Wisconsin state law requires a smoke alarm on each floor level, and one should also be installed in the area adjacent to your furnace.
Make sure that your furnace is operating properly and safely, and furnace flues, pipes, and chimneys should be inspected as well. Madison Gas and Electric, Alliant Energy, or a heating contractor should be contacted if you have questions or problems regarding the heating unit in your home. In homes with gas furnaces, carbon monoxide detectors are strongly recommended.
Filters should be changed at the beginning of the heating season and then checked monthly to make sure there is adequate air flow.
If you have to leave your home unattended for several days, keep the thermostat set at 55 degrees or higher, and have a friend check your house to make sure it is warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing.
If you will be away for a substantial length of time, you can also shut off and drain your entire water system. Consider having the water shut off at the street, the water meter removed and the plumbing drained and winterize.
Be aware of homes in your neighborhood that might be vacant and the plumbing unprotected for the winter season. Contact the Water Utility if you suspect a problem.
If you believe your pipes have frozen, turn off the water at the main valve to your home and call a plumber.
Make sure the water line to outside faucets is turned off, the hoses disconnected, and the line is drained.