The kids are out for summer break and you’ve packed up your suitcase and planned your itinerary. But before you leave for vacation, take the time to protect your home while you’re away.

Use this checklist as a quick and easy way to make sure everything is ready to go before you’re ready to go. 

Inside the house

•Set timers on interior lights — This goes a long way in deterring burglars, who often look for crimes of opportunity. Don’t allow your house to appear as if no one is home.

•Prevent power surges — You never know if a power surge will occur, so be prepared. Disconnect the computer, TV, stereo and other electronics, or make sure they are plugged safely into a surge protector.

•No status updates — Never broadcast your location on Facebook or Twitter. Even if you think it’s only your friends or colleagues viewing your online profiles, it’s safest not to leave any sort of opening for a possible burglar.

•Alert your alarm company — If you have an automatic security system in place, call your representative, announcing you’ll be away from home for an extended period of time.

Make sure the alarm is set properly when you leave.

•Secure valuables — If you don’t already have your jewelry or other valuables in a safe-deposit box, now might be the time to do so. Doing this also ensures that you don’t leave out anything valuable in plain sight that a burglar might be able to see from a window.

•HVAC — Set a programmable thermostat to lower your heat or air-conditioning usage.

•Protect your pipes — Make sure pipes in vulnerable areas such as attics, basements and crawlspaces are insulated. In unusually cold weather, set your thermostat at 55 degrees or above.

Ask a neighbor or trusted friend to stop by and check on the house and periodically turn on the faucets to ensure the pipes don’t freeze.

•Lock all doors and windows — It might seem obvious, but double-check the windows and locks just to be sure.

Outside the house

•Arrange for lawn care — Have your landscaping tended to by a friendly neighbor or local service.

Before you leave, trim tree branches that might allow access to a climbing burglar.

•Newspaper and mail — Stop mail and newspaper deliveries, or have them regularly picked up by a neighbor. You don’t want to easily clue in a burglar to your absence by the mounting newspapers on your doorstep.

•Exterior lighting — Set these lights on timers to deter burglars.

•Don’t leave spare keys outdoors — Collect any hidden spare keys from around the exterior of your home. Remember, burglars know the most popular hiding places, like beneath mats and in potted plants.

•Lock up your garage — Even if there is no entrance to your house from the garage, there’s still a chance for numerous things to be stolen. Secure the door and any entrances to the garage.

When you’re away on vacation, you don’t want to worry about things back home. Think practically about the neighborhood you live in and the resources you have close by to help while you’re gone. 

EMILY WANG HAWKINS is a State Farm agent in Madison Park. To suggest future topics or for more information, visit www.myagentemily.com, or call (206) 588-0416. To comment on this column, write to MPTimes@nwlink.com.