NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — You probably know to take crucial items, prescriptions and photos with you, but how do you prepare your home to leave it behind in a winter storm?

With the potential for hundreds of thousands of people to lose power over the next few days, leaving a home for a vacation means potentially returning to one that doesn’t have heat or electricity.

If you aren’t sure how something will fare in the cold, take it with you. This especially includes pets, fish and fragile plants.

With the state’s severe cold weather protocol in place, agencies are already prepared to step in to help those who are especially vulnerable. If you need help, call 2-1-1 to find out information about your local warming center and available resources.

Here are some ways to prepare your house for a power outage before you leave it behind:

Have a storm kit ready for when you return. This way, if you don’t have power, you can avoid trips to a busy store. You also don’t need to rummage through your home to find what you need. The kit should include items like flashlights, candles and batteries.

Prevent your pipes from freezing. Do not lower your thermostat below 55 degrees before you leave. Let your faucet drip while you’re gone to prevent freezing. If the pipes are frozen when you return, turn on the faucet and run water until it melts. You can also apply gentle heat to the pipes with a hair dryer.

Keep your electronics safe. If you’re leaving them behind, either unplug them or make sure sensitive electronics are in surge protectors.

Prepare your generator. Fill it with fuel so you don’t have to rush to find any later. You’ll likely be joining a long crowd if you wait.

Bring a key. Phone apps and other technology can make it possible to enter your home without a key. But while tapping a code into a pad on your garage is convenient, it might not work if you lose power. Be sure to pack a physical key so that you aren’t unexpectedly locked out.

Protect your plants. If you’re leaving them behind, move them away from cold windows and into an inner room. You can also try placing bubble wrap against the glass to keep the chill away. If the power is out when you return, bring the plants into the room where you’ll be. The extra body heat will warm them up and keep them from wilting. Do not water them with cold water. If you are using a fireplace, keep them at a safe distance so you don’t accidentally singe the leaves.

Save your fish. If you’re not taking them with you, cover the tank with a blanket and cut back on how much you’re feeding them. Having less food will slow the fish’s metabolism so that they use less oxygen.