Guest blog: Danny Starr- 5 Tips to Keep Home Safe While on Vacay

It’s guest blog Monday, and today I’m honoured to have my friend Danny Starr write a guest post for me.

Danny is the Director of eCommerce at iWatchLife, a smart video monitoring company based in Ottawa, Ontario. Danny’s contact details are at the end of the blog post.


Whether you are away for a week or a month, there are a few things you can do to be sure that your home is OK while you’re away.  Typically people think about security but it’s not just about being broken into.

Have you ever come home from a holiday in the sun to find your basement flooded? Any number of things can happen but you can be more prepared by following these simple tips.

Appearance Matters

The easiest way to let people know that you’re away is to let the appearance of your property slip.  In the winter, make sure your driveway is being shovelled.  In the summer, make sure your lawn in being cut and your mail and newspapers don’t pile up on your front doorstep.  It is common for thieves to watch properties before they attempt to break in.  If you are leaving cars or if your laneway will empty, have somebody park there to make it look like somebody is visiting. 

It almost goes without saying that you should have some of your lights on timers.  Leaving them on all of the time is an obvious signal that you’re away. 

Take Out the Papers and the Trash

If you have ever returned home to the smell of rotting food or garbage then this one is a no-brainer.  Be sure to throw away any perishable food from your fridge or counter before you leave and take the garbage out.  If you’re in a pinch and can’t do this, then a trick I have used is putting things in the freezer until I get home so that they don’t stink up my house.  Ask a neighbour to take out the trash if you are away on garbage day, but make sure they don’t forget returning the cans to storage after pick-up!

Here’s another bonus tip: flush all of your toilets and make sure they are clean.  A toilet that is even a little bit dirty can get pretty nasty in a week or two. 

Love Thy Neighbour

It is always handy to have a friendly neighbour keep an eye on your place.  If you are worried about your furnace turning off and your pipes freezing, then this is even more important particularly for insurance purposes.  Those of you with sump pumps will be experienced at making sure somebody checks to make sure your basement isn’t flooded.  Just make sure your neighbour can contact you or somebody else that can deal with any issues that may arise. 

Security Company Contact Information

If you have spent the money to get a proper security system installed, make sure you notify them and that they have the contact information for somebody you trust in the event that the alarm goes off.  Let this individual know that they might get a call if the alarm is tripped.  Most companies charge a fee for having the police come to your house and having this sorted out in advance might save you a few hundred dollars.

Use a Webcam for More Than Video Chatting

More and more, people are starting to realize that they can keep an eye on their house with nothing more than a simple webcam on software that gives you access to the camera view from any Internet connected computer.  Some people will point the camera at their thermostat or heat pump while they are away so that they can make sure everything is fine.  It is also worth pointing out that there are some smart video monitoring solutions that include motion detection and email alerts so that you get an email if something happens. 


Your vacation should be about relaxing and enjoying yourself, not worrying about what is happening for your house.  If you follow these simple tips, you reduce the chances that you end up with a surprise when you finally get home. 

Danny Starr is the Director of eCommerce at iWatchLife, a smart video monitoring company based in Ottawa, Ontario.

@iwatchlife on twitter