Archive for the ‘Home Security’ Category

Three Home Automation Technologies That Will Increase the Resale Value of Your Edmonton Area House

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Three Home Automation Technologies That Will Increase the Resale Value of Your Edmonton Area House | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re in the process of listing your Spruce Grove real estate, Parkland County real estate, Stony Plain real estate or other Edmonton real estate for sale, it is important to make property improvements that buyers are looking for and that will increase resale value. There is nothing worse than making a home modification or a property upgrade that will not offer you any return on your investment in the form of a larger offer. Some of the more popular upgrades to consider when you want a return involve modern home automation. Here are three home automation technologies that will bring your home into the 21st century while attracting buyers.

Appeal to a Buyer’s Desire for Safety with a Home Automation Security System

Home buyers who are looking to buy highly valued Parkland County acreages or other Edmonton acreages want to know that they will be safe and secure on their property. When you are selling a property, it is all about appealing to the buyer’s emotions, and all buyers want comfort and safety. The first home automation system all sellers should consider installing in their home is a security system. With the right home automation monitoring equipment, including alarms and security cameras, you can give all buyers setting foot on the property a feeling of relief as you show them how you can control, arm, disarm and view the property from a remote device installed with the home automation app.

More Dramatic and Efficient Lighting Systems

Selling your home or your acreage is all about making that first impression. Not only does your property need curb appeal, it needs to appeal to the growing market of energy efficient buyers that exists today. Home automation lighting systems are becoming the new craze, and these systems will offer you a return in two very different ways. The dramatic lighting dimming effects that you can dress your home with will set a mood to capture attention, and the energy efficient qualities of the system will reinforce just how great the home automation technology is.

Decluttering The Property With Whole Home Entertainment

More and more households are ditching the wires and the clutter of electronics and remote controls that once lined cabinets and cluttered tabletops. Cables have become eyesores and speakers needed in every room have become an unnecessary expense. If you are targeting a tech-savvy buyer who wants a whole-home automation entertainment system that allows them to ditch the wires and all of those remotes, this is a technology to add to your home. The speakers will be hidden in your ceiling, screens will be cleverly mounted, and buyers will pay attention to your tech-savvy listing.

Every seller wants to set a sales record and get the best offer on their home. To make this happen, you need to choose to invest in upgrades and updates that will bring your dated property into the 21st century while still ensuring it has character.

If you need help deciding which updates are best, I am always willing to help answer any home-related questions that you might have.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.

Lessons From Calgary: How Prepared Are You For a Disaster?

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Recent catastrophic flooding in southern Alberta has caused many people in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region to re-think their own emergency preparedness and to wonder just how well we would survive a disaster of this type.  If you Google “72 hour survival kit”, many worthy sites presenting much useful information appear.  But how many of us have actually followed through on this information to put together an emergency plan, emergency kits and the like?   How do you even get started doing this?

Start with a Plan

A very good site to begin with is  Download their publication 72 Hours: Is Your Family Prepared? Your Emergency Preparedness Guide.  Detailed instructions guide you through the creation of an emergency plan for your family, and the building of an emergency kit.  Most authorities recommend having enough “stuff” to keep you self-sufficient for 72 hours, the critical time period during which you may need to wait for help from emergency assistance providers, and during which time you may be without essential services of water, power and gas.

Build Your Survival Kit

Your emergency kit may be one you’ve assembled yourself or it may be a commercial one you purchase from an organization such as the Canadian Red CrossTheir basic 72-Hour Disaster Preparedness Kit sells for $59.95 and includes the following items:

  • 1 box of 45 waterproof matches
  • 1 wind-up flashlight/radio/alarm (no batteries required)
  • 1 50-hour candle
  • 1 multi-function knife
  • 1 S.O.S. sign
  • 1 emergency rescue blanket
  • 1 emergency preparedness guide
  • 20 water purification tablets
  • 2 biohazard waste bags
  • 1 collapsible water container
  • 1 whistle
  • 1 pair of work gloves
  • 1 12-hour light stick
  • 1 first aid kit:
    • 1 emergency plastic sheeting
    • 1 duct tape
    • 2 dust masks
    • 1 nylon backpack
    • 2 gauze pads 5 cm x 5 cm (2 in x 2 in)
    • 5 antiseptic towelettes
    • 1 proviodine swab
    • 4 alcohol swabs
    • 2 insect sting relief swabs
    • 10 plastic adhesive bandages
    • 2 fingertip bandages
    • 2 knuckle bandages
    • 1 first aid instruction card
    • 2 adhesive patch bandages 5 cm x 7.5 cm (2 in x 2 in)
    • 1 conform bandage
    • 1 roll of adhesive tape
    • 1 pair of nitrile examination gloves
    • 1 pair of tweezers
    • 1 pair of scissors
    • 12 safety pins

These items are just the beginning, of course.  Most experts recommend that your kit include enough non-perishable food for 72 hours, and at least 4 liters of water per person per day.  Seasoned backwoods campers and backpackers will have lots of other suggestions, such as warm, water-resistant clothing, a small tent and sleeping gear, food preparation equipment including mess kits and a tiny stove that fits in a backpack, and special dehydrated meals.  Whatever goes into your kit needs to reflect your careful consideration of your personal situation:  What would you need to have with you to be safe, comfortable and healthy during those 72 hours?  Study carefully the lists on the site as well as the following sites to devise the exact 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit that works for you and all family members (including pets).

Store your kit somewhere in your home where it’s readily accessible and hope you never have to use it!

Leaving Your Home

What if you had to evacuate your home as so many southern Alberta residents were forced to do?  What do you take with you when you escape?  Well, your emergency kit of course, and a few other essentials:

  • Identification (passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage licenses, insurance, wills, financial statements, etc.) Tip:  Scan all these documents onto your computer and then download them onto a memory stick which then goes into your emergency kit.  Check and update your digital records every 6 months.
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Important phone numbers (relatives, work, insurance, doctors, pharmacy, etc.)
  • Extra set of keys (house, garage, storage, lockbox, etc.)
  • Money $$ (cash, including coins, and credit cards)
  • Critical medicines & prescription glasses
  • Personal hygiene items and change of clothing
  • Computer backup
  • You can probably think of a few other easily portable and absolutely essential items.

People who have survived disastrous fires, floods and severe weather events will tell you that one of the hardest things about leaving behind their homes is the thought of losing the tangible evidence of precious and irreplaceable family memories.  These days, technology can help if you plan ahead and take the time to do things like digitizing family photos and then uploading them to online storage services.  Make sure a copy of your home inventory is there too.  (See my blog article “Home Inventory: Do You Have One?”)

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.



Apartment Dwellers, You Need Insurance!

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Apartment Dwellers, You Need Insurance! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWe hear about it all the time but this time the devastation hit a little close to home, affecting the daughter of one of my clients in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton region.  On Thursday, May 9, 2013, 36 units of the Sonora Apartments in Stony Plain were destroyed by fire, leaving 50 people homeless and wondering how they’ll survive with all their possessions gone.  $4 million in damage is the estimate, and the probable cause of the fire is “improper disposal of smoking materials.” 

It’s hard to imagine the horror and hopelessness experienced by the victims of this tragedy.  What makes it worse is that most of the people living in the apartment complex did not have insurance which could have minimized a great deal of their suffering. 

If you are a renter, please give yourself the gift of property insurance known as Renters or Tenant Insurance.  The cost is small and the benefit is huge. 

What does Tenant’s Insurance cover?

An excellent pamphlet from the Insurance Bureau of Canada entitled “What is Tenant’s Insurance?” explains that Tenant’s Insurance covers 3 main areas:

  • Replacement of personal belongings of all kinds, if stolen, damaged or destroyed by fire, water and the like.
  • Costs for temporary accommodation, meals, transportation, moving costs, etc. while your home is being repaired.
  • Liability coverage in the event that you cause damage to the property or to people visiting the building.

(Keep in mind that each policy will have its own rules, exceptions and limits as to what is covered and what compensation for damage there may be.) 

How much does Tenant’s Insurance cost?

When you hear how little Tenant’s Insurance costs, you’ll probably be shaking your head as I did, wondering how people could possibly think that not having this type of insurance makes sense.  Or maybe, as Dayle of The Co-operators Insurance Company in Spruce Grove suggests, they just don’t know it exists.  She says that for roughly $15,000 worth of coverage (and that includes some provision for living expenses and standard liability coverage) the cost is only $200 per year!  Surely one’s peace of mind is worth that much, and if you ever need to make a claim, there’s no question that getting your life back to normal quickly has to be worth putting that amount in your budget, right along with food, clothing and rent. 

For more information about property insurance, see my blog article ”Property Insurance: Are You Covered?”   

I welcome your comments or questions.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me, or contact me here

Should Your Home Have a Fire Sprinkler System?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Should Your Home Have a Fire Sprinkler System? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow protected from fire is your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area?  You have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers but should you do more? 

I recently watched a disturbing YouTube video entitled The Co-operators and the Guelph Fire Department Sprinkler Demonstration sponsored by The Co-Operators Insurance company and the Guelph Fire Department.  In the video I learned that deaths from fire occur most often in the home and usually when people are sleeping.  Those most affected are likely to be small children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 60.  It’s one thing to read in the video that fire departments typically respond in as little as 10 minutes but that conditions during a fire can become unsurvivable in under 2 minutes.   It’s a very different impression to watch the video and see the destruction and horror caused by a fire, how quickly it can spread, filling a home with toxic fumes and smoke, and how devastating the damage can be.   

The purpose of the video was to point out the difference sprinklers can make in saving lives and protecting property.  According to the video, damage in a sprinkler-protected home is generally 71% less.  Insurance claims in sprinkler-protected homes run around $1000 compared to $15,000 in those without.  Even more important than the decreased property damage is the life-saving aspect:  an 80% reduction in injury and death in a home with sprinklers. 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s website  has similar information:  “Most people don’t realize that 8 out of 10 fire deaths occur in the home.  They usually happen at night when people are asleep.  People also do not understand how fast fires spread and how they can go from a tiny flame to total destruction in as little as three minutes.  Fire sprinklers can suppress and often extinguish a fire before the fire department arrives, giving people time to escape.” 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, based in the US but with Canadian partners, reports statistics similar to those in the video.  The website also contains a wealth of other information and answers to questions people might have about home sprinkler systems:

  • Fires kill more people in the US every year than all natural disasters combined.  And 80% of those fire deaths occur in the home.  When combined with smoke alarms, residential fire sprinklers cut the risk of dying by 82%.
  • Fire sprinklers can save money for developers, builders, homeowners and communities.
  • Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire.  Sprinklers cause much less water damage than fire hoses.
  • Sprinklers are activated by high heat so sprinklers throughout a home are unlikely to go off.  The website notes that 90% of all home fires are contained with a single sprinkler.
  • Accidental discharge of sprinklers due to defective equipment is extremely unlikely.
  • Homeowners need not worry about the aesthetics of a sprinkler system as the hardware in a home system is small and easily concealed.
  • If installed in a new home, the cost may be about the same as an upgraded carpet, or about 1 to 1.5% of the building cost.  This cost may be offset over a number of years through lower insurance premiums.
  • Home fire sprinkler systems can be retrofitted into existing homes. 

In light of recent house fires in our province that caused tremendous damage and loss of life due to current new homes being built very close together and with flammable materials, the cost of installing a sprinkler system (running about $1.65 per square foot in the US for new home construction) seems well worth it.  I urge you to view the Co-Operators video  to get a feel for the true calamity of a fire in the home, and visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition website for more information about home sprinklers.  You can never be too safe! 

See also my blog articleFire Safety in Your Home”.   

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.




Home Inventory: Do You Have One?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHome Inventory: Do You Have One?As the holiday season approaches in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, you’re probably getting your home in shape for visits from family and friends.  This may mean adding new furniture or entertainment devices, as well as cleaning and organizing your current possessions.  Do you have a record of all your possessions, old and new?   

Your home and everything in it means a lot to you.  Sure, you have insurance in case anything should happen, such as a break-in or fire or adverse weather event.  But how would you let your insurance agent know exactly what you have that may need to be replaced?  As you go about your holiday preparations, it might be a good time to consider re-doing, or creating for the first time, an inventory of everything you own connected with your home.  Good idea, you say, but where to start? 

Luckily, the technical world can come to your rescue, both for creating the inventory and for storing it.  At its heart, a home inventory is a list containing various pieces of information such as name of the item, its location in your home, brand name, purchase price, current or replacement value, when and where acquired, serial numbers and so on.   

CAA Magazine’s “The Value of Your Home:  Tips on Creating a Home Inventory List” can get you going with a step by step process.  Another article on this topic is State Farm’s “Creating a Home Inventory”.

Here are some tools that can make your job easier: 

  • Spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or Google Docs Spreadsheet (see this home inventory template) can create a form on which to record the data.   
  • It’s also possible to find many pre-made home inventory templates on the internet, such as these examples:

Insurance Brokers Association of Canada Home Inventory Form 

State Farm Home Inventory Checklist 

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Insurance Division Home Inventory Checklist

  • A photo or video inventory is a good complement to a written list.  Today’s cameras and even phones make it easy and relatively fast to take stock of a home’s contents.  The pros recommend not just taking a picture of an item, but also zooming in on serial numbers and important details, such as the brand of an object (turn over a piece of china to show the manufacturer, for example).  It’s also a good idea to take pictures of receipts or appraisal reports, especially for high-value items purchased new, or antiques.  Audio can provide a running commentary of what the items are and their value.  Burn the pictures to a DVD for storage outside your home or upload them to an online account.
  • Home inventory software is another option, and some very good ones are free:

Know Your Stuff Home Inventory

What You Own Home Inventory

These packages allow you to create lists, add photos, receipts and the like, and generate reports.

  • To get really futuristic check out iTrackMine, a free web-based resource billed as the “ultimate collection manager”.  By typing in (or scanning with a barcode scanner or an Android phone) the ISBN or UPC numbers of items in a collection, such as books or movies, you can automatically generate a list containing all kinds of information, including pictures.  Where it’s really useful for home inventory purposes is its ability to produce an insurance-ready report.

Why not make the doing of a household inventory a family project this holiday season?  While giving new meaning to the expression “making a list and checking it twice”, you’ll end up with a worthwhile gift for yourself and your family!

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here. 

Locks, Keys and Making Them Work

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Locks, Keys and Making Them Work | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamA good solid lock is one of the best ways to secure the biggest investment most of us will ever make, whether it’s an acreage in Parkland County, a house in Stony Plain or a condo in Spruce GroveBut what if that lock is sticking and your key is not reliably locking and unlocking the door each time?  Are there some simple fixes, or do you have to get a locksmith to replace every lock in your home?

I recently ran across an article entitled “When your key doesn’t unlock the door” published in the January 13, 2012 issue of the Grove Examiner.  This article, also found online on the Edmonton Sun website, is well worth a read.  The author, noted security expert Frank Fourchalk, has numerous suggestions to solve the problem, from using good old reliable WD-40, to tightening various screws and filing the strike plates, to re-keying (not replacing) your locks, and more.  Read his excellent advice on everything relating to home security on his own website, Your Home 

If you’re concerned about security in your home, take a look also at my checklists:

Home Security Checklist 

Fire Safety Checklist 

Looking to buy or sell in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area?  Give me a call at 780-910-9669, email me at or contact me here.



How Secure Is Your Home?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

How Secure Is Your Home? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamDo you know anyone in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region who has been the victim of a burglary?  To ensure that this unpleasant experience never happens to you, take a look at our Home Security Checklist.

This list may be one of the most comprehensive you will ever find, starting outside your home with a look at your neighborhood in general, outdoor security and valuables, landscaping, exterior lighting, the garage and other outbuildings.  Focusing on your home itself, items to check here include entry doors and locks, windows, the home interior and its contents, and special circumstances, such as alarm systems, firearms, swimming pool safety, and fire safety.  The document concludes with a special checklist just for things you need to consider while on vacation.  Chances are there are a few things on the Home Security Checklist you haven’t thought of doing, and those things just might make your home more secure and less burglar-friendly!

You might also be interested in our Fire Safety Checklist.

Some related blog posts:

Looking for a new home, especially one with more security features?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me, or contact me here.


Cyber Security

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Cyber Security | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamLike most people, I use a computer and mobile devices daily for personal and business reasons, but I don’t consider myself an expert in any way, and to tell the truth, I find the whole cyber world a little worrisome.  I’m not totally comfortable putting my faith in the security of online banking sites, or giving out my credit card information to online vendors.  I think I’ve taken plenty of precautions by investing in good security software and by following the advice of computer experts for things like password choice, web browser settings and so on, but still, I worry that there are other things I should be doing. 

Recently I heard Get Cyber Safe  advertised on the radio.  Upon investigating it, I found it to be a great site that I would highly recommend to my family, friends and clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton area and elsewhere. 

Sponsored by the government of Canada, the About Us page of the site explains that:

Get Cyber Safe is a national public awareness campaign created to educate Canadians about Internet security and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves online. The campaign’s goal is to bring together all levels of government, the public and private sectors, and the international community, to help Canadians be safer online.

The campaign is an important component of Canada’s Cyber Security Strategywhich is dedicated to securing government systems, partnering to secure vital cyber systems outside the federal government, and helping Canadians to be secure online.

The campaign is being led by Public Safety Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada.”

Sections of the site take the reader through the risks associated with online activity, and then address protecting yourself (especially your identity, your money and your family), and your devices, including computers, mobile devices, home networks and data storage.  The website Get Cyber Safe has something for everyone, expert and novice computer users alike, with lots of information explained clearly and plainly. 

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here

Fire Safety in Your Home

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Fire Safety in Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAn article by Mike Holmes in the October 8, 2011 Edmonton Journal entitled “Simple lint can be serious fire hazard” [reprinted from an earlier article called “Lint isn’t just fluff; it’s a fire hazard”, Edmonton, September 29, 2011] reminded me that October is Fire Safety Month in Canada.  Is your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area as fire-safe as it could be?  Use this handy checklist put together by a member of my team to find out.

Fire Safety Checklist

Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, Escape Plan

___ We have at least one smoke alarm newer than 10 years old on every floor.  (Ideally, also an alarm in or near every sleeping area, near the family room and kitchen, at the top of each stairway, in the garage, wired in with battery backup.)

___ Carbon monoxide detectors newer than 7 years old are located in the same areas as smoke alarms, with an additional one near the furnace.

___ Batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are changed twice a year.

___ We test the alarms every 3 months.

___ We have emergency flashlights with fresh batteries in every bedroom and the kitchen.

___ There are fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, basement, and near each fire source (fireplace, wood-burning stove).  These are checked or inspected on a regular basis, and someone in the home knows how to use them.  (One in each vehicle is a good idea too.)

___ We avoid accumulating clutter, especially combustible waste.  Items of this type are never stored near a heat source or near the furnace or hot water heater, and we ensure that we have clear paths to all exits.

___ As a family, we regularly practice our escape.  All family members know what to do in case of fire or other emergency.

Fire and Heat Sources

___ Our wood-burning fireplace/stove is properly ventilated and there is adequate fresh air intake.

___ Our fireplace has a screen to prevent sparks, and we dispose of ashes in metal containers.

___ Our wood-burning fireplaces/stoves and their chimneys are cleaned and inspected every year.

___ Space heaters are kept at least 3 feet from flammable/combustible items, and they are placed where they cannot be knocked over.

___ Heat sources of any kind, including the kitchen stove, are never left unattended when in use.

___ We make sure things that can burn, such as dishtowels, paper or plastic bags, curtains and loose fitting clothing, are at least 3 feet away from the range top when we are cooking.

___ Our barbecue grill is at least 3 feet away from the house and any combustibles when in use.


___ Flammables are stored in original, marked containers away from sources of heat or flame.

___ If we must store gasoline and similar fuels at home, we do so in special safety containers, and never in the house.

___ We store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or similar secure location out of reach of children.

___ We do not allow smoking in our home.  But, if we did, there would be deep wide ashtrays available; lit cigarettes would never be left unattended; ashtrays and furniture would always be checked before we leave the house or go to bed; smoking is never done in bed.

___ Candles are used only by adults, out of reach of children and pets, placed in sturdy and stable holders made of glass or metal well away from flammable items, and never left unattended.

___ The lint trap on our clothes dryer is cleaned after every load of laundry, and dryer ductwork is cleaned and inspected every year.


___ Kitchen appliances, such as the kettle, coffee-maker, toaster oven and microwave, are plugged into separate outlets.

___ There are no frayed or cracked cords or exposed wiring in our home.

___ There are no outlets or switches that are unusually warm to touch.

___ All outlets and switches have cover plates so that no wiring is exposed.

___ No outlet has a smudge mark indicating that an electrical short has occurred around the socket where plugs are inserted.

___ Light bulbs are the appropriate size and type for the lamp or fixture.

___ No extension cord carries more than its proper load, as indicated by the rating labeled on the cord and appliance.  Cords are never run under rugs or hooked over nails, and are not used as a permanent solution.

___ We keep “air space” around electronic items such as TVs, stereos, computers, etc.

___ We replace any electrical tool or appliance if it causes electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.

___ We keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters, and we take special care with electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here. 


Summertime Home Security Tips

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Yahoo, summer in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area!  We wait all year for this time to relax and have fun in the sun.

Summertime Home Security Tips


But there are some things you shouldn’t relax.  The weather may be pleasant and life is more casual, but home safety and security should still be a priority, whether you are leaving home for a well-deserved vacation or simply spending time in the backyard.  It’s a fact that more home break-ins occur during the summer, but there are things you can do to lessen the chance of becoming a target.


Think like a thief

  • How would you go about breaking in to your home?  Are your doors unlocked or windows unlatched?  Are there bushes to hide behind or trees to climb that would give easy access to upstairs windows?  Any large vents, a pet door or easily opened basement windows?
  • Think about your habits.  Do you regularly leave your garage door or windows open when you’re home and close them only when you leave?  Someone watching might clue in to the times when a break-in would be easy.  You may also have heard the recent news story from St. Albert of a ring of thieves targeting owners of motor homes.  When the vehicles were gone from the driveways, the thieves took this as a sign that the homeowners were away, leaving them free to loot and plunder.
  • Think also about the inside of your home.  How visible are your possessions from the street?  Hide the valuables most targeted by thieves (cash, jewelry, financial papers, electronics, sports gear and the like) in creative or hard to get at places (not the bedroom or office as these are the first places burglars look), or position them away from windows.  Close your curtains at night.  Don’t tempt thieves by dropping your car keys and wallet next to the front door or on the kitchen counter right beside an open window.

Lock it up

It might surprise people to learn that the most common point of entry by burglars is the front or back door of a home, so why make it easy by leaving a door unlocked?  Maybe you never forget to lock up when you leave home for the day or when you go on vacation, but what about when you are at home?  Can you see the front door when you are in your basement family room?  Can you hear someone at the door when you’re relaxing on your back patio?  The best protection is a good solid door (hardwood or metal-clad) armed with a good solid lock (sturdy keyed deadbolt) that you keep locked all the time.

Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamCheck those keys

Do you know where your keys are?  People you’ve given them to?  “Hidden” outside your home?  Labeled with your name and address?  It might be time to change the locks if you can’t account for every key, and then change a few habits.  First, limit the number of keys you have.  If you find yourself needing more than two or three, you may want to consider a keyless entry for one of the entry points to your home.  (Tip: This works really well for houseguests or service people or anyone who needs temporary access to your home.  When the need for access is done, change the code.)  Secondly, do NOT “hide” a key outside your home!  Burglars generally aren’t too smart, but they know all the hiding spots.  Instead, give a key to a trusted neighbor or friend.  Third, get rid of any key chains that have your name and address on them.  If one of these gold-plated burglar invitations goes missing… well.

Stranger danger

Who says you have to open your door when someone rings the doorbell?  Consider installing a wide-angle peephole in your front door so you know who’s standing on your doormat without having to open the door.  Not a bad idea to have a peephole also in the door that opens into your attached garage.  A security chain on the front door is another good measure to prevent people you don’t know from barging in, or a screen door with a lock.

Window pains

Summer is the time to open all the windows wide and let in the sunshine and fresh air.  But those open windows might provide easier access to burglars too.  Here are a few things you can do to limit that access:

  • Make sure all windows are closed and locked when you are away.  Same rule as with doors when you are outside in the backyard.
  • Outfit ground-floor and basement windows with security grilles that need a key to open.  But just be sure that these security measures don’t compromise your ability to get out of your house should you need to escape!
  • To prevent sliding glass doors from being lifted out of their tracks, block the track with a bar or wooden dowel.  Patio doors should also be fitted with special locks top and bottom.
  • We’ve all seen the TV shows where someone breaks into a house by smashing the window located conveniently next to the (locked) doorknob, reaches inside and lets himself in.  Any windows like that in your home should be replaced with thick glass block or other burglar-proof glass, or thick Plexiglas.

Get lit

Burglars prefer to strike when no one is home.  That could mean during daylight hours when homeowners are away at work, but nothing says empty like a dark house and unlit yard at night.  One of the best security measures you can put in place is good interior and exterior lighting to lessen the appearance that your home is vacant, and increase visibility of vulnerable areas.  Inside your home, use timed switches on selected lights, TV and stereo to make it look like you are at home.  Look for timers that turn on and off at random times.  And don’t save these timers just for when you are away overnight or on vacation.  Remember that you want to avoid becoming predictable to would-be thieves.   Outside, aim for lighting immediately outside your home (front and back doors, and garage) and strategic lighting in the yard.  Pay attention to any pathways, recessed areas, or potential hiding spots, such as clusters of shrubs or free-standing structures, like a garden shed or gazebo.  Two types of lights to avoid for security purposes are solar-powered ones (too dim) and high-beam spotlights (too annoying to the neighbors).  Instead, opt for motion-detector lights which will save energy and the patience of your neighbors.

Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMake some noise

Got a big dog with a booming bark that wakes up the neighborhood when someone comes to your door?  Excellent.  You’ve got a built-in crook deterrent.  If you’re not a dog person, there are still things you can do to persuade would-be burglars to give your home a pass.  Wireless battery-operated door and window alarms that emit an ear-splitting noise when the door or window is opened are cheap to buy, easy to install, and serve as both an alerting device to you and a deterrent to anyone trying to enter.  Outside your home, use gravel around the sides of the house for a good and cheap sneak-resistant security measure.

Outside security

  • Your house is locked but what about everything else on your property, such as garden shed, garage, vehicles?  Consider your unlocked car sitting in your driveway – with your garage door opener in plain view on the visor.  Battery-operated alarms can work on garden sheds and garages as well.
  • Take a look at the windows in your garage.  Is a passer-by able to see what’s in your garage?  More importantly, is that passer-by able to see what isn’t there, like a vehicle or two?  No vehicles in garage or driveway tells burglars the coast is clear.  Consider covering up or frosting garage windows to spoil the view.
  • What’s in your yard?  Expensive patio furniture that is easily carted away?  A barbecue that isn’t attached to a ground anchor?  Gardening tools and machinery not locked away in the garden shed?  Make sure all tools are painted or etched with identifying marks.
  • Instead of an easy to climb solid wood fence around your property, you may wish to install spiky chain-link fencing or a prickly hedge.  Check the vegetation on your property, especially immediately around your house.  Would it hinder or help a burglar case your house and then get in?
  • Help emergency responders to help you by making sure your house number is prominently displayed:  numbers at least 4 inches high and in an easy to see location.

Make friends with your neighbors

Especially strike up a relationship with that curmudgeon down the street who complains about everybody’s shortcomings or the nosy old lady next door who knows everybody’s business, because they will be the first ones to notice if something in the neighborhood is not as it should be.Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam


Your house needs to look occupied.  This means no newspapers left to pile up on the front step, flyers sticking out of the mailbox, or a lawn left too long unmowed.  Ask a good friend or neighbor to look after these chores for you.  A few other tips:

  • Ask that same friend or neighbor to check inside your house as well (plants to water? fish to feed?), especially after a storm.  The last thing you want to come home to is a flooded basement, or the signs that someone unauthorized has been in.  Make sure to leave your cell phone number with your friend or neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  • If you have a pet, consider hiring a house sitter.  Your pet will be happier and your home will look lived in.
  • Unplug electrical appliances that normally sit on standby to lessen fire risk.
  • Lights on timers.
  • Put your name, address, phone number, etc. on the inside of your luggage rather than on the tag hanging on the outside for the world to see.
  • Something new we never had to deal with before is social media.  Don’t advertise your absence by telling all your Facebook friends about your vacation plans.  Wait until you get back to share your news.  Likewise, don’t announce it through an answering machine, voicemail or an automated email response.  Only tell people you trust that you will be away.

Summertime Home Security Tips | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAlarm system

Should you or shouldn’t you?  To be effective, an alarm system has to be well advertised and well used.  That means prominently displaying the warning signs that your home is armed with an alarm system, and educating all family members in the proper use of the system at all times.  Potential thieves are less likely to target a home with an alarm system.  If a break-in does occur, help will be on the way faster.   But there are disadvantages to consider too.  Alarm systems and the monitoring fees can be costly.  It can be inconvenient to arm and disarm the system numerous times a day, and false alarms can be bothersome.  Only you can decide if the potential protection and peace of mind are worth the hassle.

Comments or questions about this article or about real estate in general?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here


Summertime Home Security Tips

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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