October: The month our days get noticeably shorter and you’re shaking your head wondering why it’s so dark so early. Honestly, October is like a transition month for me, taking me from summer to fall. By November, I am used to the shorter days and early darkness. In October, however, I am still in denial. Every evening I am surprised at how early the sun goes down.
And these shorter days and longer nights lead to one big huge home security concern: lighting.
You can invest in a really good home security system, clean up all the hiding places around your yard, maintain good communication with your neighbors, and teach your kids great safety and security habits. But if you neglect lighting as a home security measure, you might as well leave the front door unlocked when you leave for work in the morning!
Lighting serves an important role in two different ways to help keep your home safe:
1) Inside, it deters burglars by giving the impression that someone is home.
2) Outside, it deters burglars by taking away hiding spots in the darkness.
If your home is being watched by someone with ill intent, leaving it sitting dark and therefore obviously empty is like extending an invitation to “come on in.” Your interior lighting can be used to confuse would-be burglars, making them unsure about the vacancy of the home. Use timers or your home automation system to set up lighting that comes on at different times of the day. Even when it’s daylight, consider having a light or two come on (especially if you live somewhere with gray days meaning you would have lights on if you were home during the day).
Vary it up, however. If the same lights come on at the same time every day, guess what that tells the burglar? You’re not home.
There’s an added benefit to having lights set up to come on automatically: You and your family get to come home to a welcoming home, not a dark one! This is particularly nice for families with kids getting home first.
Your exterior lighting can also provide a welcome home at the end of a long day! But it—like the interior lighting—also helps to keep your home safer, although in two different ways:
1) As a deterrent to burglars who can’t find a hiding spot in your yard that will give them time and space to “work.”
2) As a safety feature for your yard, decreasing the chances of someone tripping or falling in the dark.
If your outside lighting is currently limited to one porch light at the front door and one porch light at the back, rethink your lighting (and by that, we don’t mean using brighter bulbs). At night, check your yard for dark areas that provide good cover for someone trying to break into your house without being seen. Check around your house and also around your garage or any other buildings that are tempting to thieves. Then come up with a plan for improving lighting to those areas, perhaps with motion detector lights so your yard doesn’t end up looking like an airport runway once you’ve eliminated all those wonderful hiding spots.
Also check for safety hazards. Check the lighting on stairs and walkways in particular. Are there any blind spots that would be safer with more lighting? Is your yard clearly lit for any visitors who aren’t familiar with trip hazards like your family is, say an uneven sidewalk leading to your front door? Can someone easily find their way from the garage to the house in the dark? Find places that need to be “enlightened” and make plans to make it so.
For this kind of lighting, however, we are less keen to recommend motion sensor lighting. For this kind of lighting, since we are doing this to keep people safe, we recommend lights that stay on rather than only come on once the person is already in range. Motion sensor lighting has a great “surprise” factor, but we’re going for the safety factor here.
For more advice on improving your outdoor lighting for both home security and personal safety reasons, see the tips here.
And now, let’s just accept the fact that it’s October, shall we? Pumpkin pie, anyone?