Making your home safe

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

HOLMES ON HOMES: Common sense is the best defence


Break-ins are a sad fact of life and protecting your family and your home should always be your top priorities.

That’s why home security questions often come up when people are planning their renovations. What kind of doors and windows are the most secure? Should I pre-wire my home for a future security system when I’m running telephone or speaker wire? Do I need exterior lighting?

The answer is yes. There are many security measures you can include in your renovation plans, beyond signing up for an expensive electronic security monitoring system.

But your first line of defence is common sense: Lock doors and windows, have good exterior lighting, add peepholes in doors, keep shrubs trimmed around doors and windows, take extra precautions when you go away (bring in mail, lights on timers, don’t let mail or newspapers pile up, keep lawn cut and snow shovelled.)

Most home break-ins are through front or back doors; next come basement or ground floor windows. Then — believe it or not — doors and windows left open.

Home security doesn’t have to be high tech. Burglars can be discouraged — by the extra time it’ll take to get in for a quick job — by noise that might draw attention to them, and by lights that reveal what they’re doing. So that means good locks, alarms and motion-sensor exterior floodlights. All of which are easy to install, and relatively cheap.

To make sure your home is hard to get into:

Make sure all of your exterior doors are solid, with good deadbolts. Your doors have to be strong.

Patio doors should have tight-fitting bars that prevent the door from sliding open — even a stick in the track will help.

Basement and ground floor windows — especially those hidden from view — are easy routes for thieves. Install security bars or grilles. These should be strong, custom made for your window and professionally installed and properly anchored into concrete or wood studs.

There should be an easy way to exit in case of a fire — no home security is worth the risk of someone being trapped inside should a fire break out.

Alarm systems only work after your home has been broken into. Think first of preventing the break-in.

Full electronic security systems come in every shape, size and price from easy-to-install boxes to centrally wired programs that are monitored by an external office. Everything from cameras, sirens, alarms and motion detectors can be installed in and around your property to make you sleep better at night — and give you the peace of mind you want when you are away.

The first thing you should really ask yourself when having a system installed is if you want it to be wired in to your central telephone line or not. With central telephone-wired surveillance systems, the alarm company will dispatch a patrol car if the alarm bells sound.

Watch Mike Holmes take on the biggest challenge of his career in Holmes in New Orleans on HGTV Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Visit for more information.

For more information on home renovations, go to

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