Holmes : Keep your house safe while you're on holidays

For those of you lucky to be getting away this year, make sure you’ve got peace of mind when you leave, knowing that you’ve taken steps to keep your home safe while you’re gone.

Lights, camera, action

Smart, well-placed lighting around your home makes a big difference in creating some much needed security on your property. I’d start by installing motion-activated lights around your entryways, garage and even above windows. This will light up those dark corners — and make somebody think twice before they stalk around your yard.

At minimum, I would recommend having your lights on a timer to make the house look lived in while you’re gone. One concern I have about this is that if someone is savvy enough to watch your home for a few days, they’ll recognize a pattern when the house lights up at the same time each day and may be able to deduce that the homeowner is gone.

If you’re a security nut, you can go one step farther. With smart lights, you can control which lights go on and when, right from your phone. You can switch up when the lights flick on and off each day to keep them guessing.

Smart locks and home monitoring

Have you ever been a thousand miles from home and a cold shudder runs through you because you can’t remember if you locked the door or not? When I get that panic, all I have to do is open up my phone, and check the app I have for that.

It’s no secret that I love my smart locks — and I’ve heard from a lot of concerned homeowners about security concerns, but, believe me, there are some good ones on that market that are secure from hacking. As long as they’ve got a good deadbolt to go with it, you’ll have a pretty safe door.

They also let me hand out digital keys to my friends and neighbours in case I need someone to stop by and bring in my mail or water the plants every few days. I’ll even get a notification when their key is activated. Once I’m home, I can deactivate the key and not have to worry about tracking down a physical copy.

With some smart locks, you won’t be able to differentiate it from a regular lock — and neither will a burglar. Investing in a smart home security system will also notify you in the event that a door or window gets busted, keeping you updated of any security breaches while you’re away.

Keeping your home safe from Mother Nature

Securing your home goes beyond deterring any would-be thieves. You want piece of mind that your home is fully protected while you’re gone — and that includes whatever nature can throw at it.

I always say that water is your home’s worst enemy, but you definitely don’t want to come home from a relaxing trip to a flooded basement.

What’s one potential cause of that? When too much water flows into the city sewers, beyond its capacities, that water may go right back up your sewer drain.

You can prevent that from happening by installing a backwater valve, which when it detects water creeping back up your sewer line, it closes, only allowing water to flow one direction: out of your home.

There are a lot of these on the market, but there are some you’ll be able to install yourself for less than $50 — and doing so can save you from a wet disaster.

And finally, I say this every year:

Take all the pictures you want when you’re away — but keep them off your social media pages until after you come home. It might not just be your friends who can see it.

Safe travels.

Mike has been making it right for homeowners for over 15 years on television. To learn more, visit

Phase 2 - Ottawa LRT

Stage 2 will change the way we move around Ottawa. Think about it: Over 40 kilometres of rail and 23 new stations. That means shorter commutes, cleaner air, and a stronger economy.

You will be able to get on a train as far east as Trim Road, travel traffic-free through the downtown tunnel, and arrive as far west as Algonquin College or Moodie. If you’re coming from the south, Stage 2 will extend the existing O-Train Trillium Line to Riverside South, while adding stations along the way at Walkley and Gladstone, along with a link that will take you all the way to Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.

The Stage 2 LRT project was approved unanimously by Ottawa City Council in 2013. We plan to start construction in 2019. Upon completion in 2023, Stage 2 will bring 70% of residents within five kilometres of rail.

We need to stay ahead of the gridlock being experienced in other cities. With Ottawa projected to grow to 1.14 million people by 2031, we need to make sure the nation’s capital continues to be one of the best places in the world to live and work.

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