How to stay safe on dark nights

Posted November 9th, 2023 by SimpliSafe

Protect yourself and your home, especially when the sun goes down, with SimpliSafe’s top tips for staying safe on dark nights.

Original publish date: 28th October 2022 Last updated: 9th November 2023

As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to plummet, making your way home from work or heading out for the evening can sometimes be daunting. The arrival of winter may bring a new host of risks and security threats, but we have some tips to help keep both you and your home safe - whatever the season, or time of day. 

In this post, we’ll cover how you could stay safe at night when you’re walking in the dark, how to keep your home safe in the dark with smart home security solutions, and a “dark nights security checklist” you can refer back to whenever you need it.

Staying safe when walking in the dark

Dark nights can’t (totally) be avoided – especially if you commute to work on those dark mornings and evenings. As the days grow shorter and the evenings become darker, it's important to take steps to keep yourself as safe as can be when you’re walking in the dark. Here are some ways you could increase your personal safety during the darker hours:

1. Be wary of your surroundings

Whether you’re walking home at night or going for your evening run; stay alert and aware - which may mean taking a break from scrolling on your phone, or putting the headphones away. Listening to music at a high volume can distract you from your surroundings, or block out the noise of oncoming traffic, so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to enhance your safety. You should also avoid shortcuts, especially if they’re in dimly lit areas.

We’d also recommend trying to walk with confidence and keep a fast yet steady pace so you can get home as quickly as possible. Not convinced this will help? This BBC article discusses how changing the way you walk to appear less vulnerable can help deter potential muggers. Using a point light walker, they were able to determine things like mood, coordination and other attributes, just by looking at the joints that were lit up. 

2. Walking in areas that are well-lit

When heading out for a walk at night, try to stick to well-lit public areas. Not only is crime less likely to occur, but your vision will also be improved, allowing you to keep an eye on your surroundings. 

If the area you’re walking in isn’t well lit, you could carry a lightweight torch with you; this will ensure that you can clearly see your surroundings, as well as avoiding any tripping hazards. If you’re jogging and would prefer to keep your hands free, opting for an LED headlamp is a good alternative. It’s also a good idea to let your household or someone close to you know when you’re due to come back home after you’ve been outside in the dark.

3. Keep family and friends updated

If you’re out late and perhaps feeling nervous about your journey home if it’s dark, keep family and friends updated on your location as it is one way you could put your mind and theirs at ease. Either send them a text to let them know you’ve arrived at your destination safely, ask them to call you on your journey, or use an app to share your location. 

4. Travel in a group if you can

Worried about walking in the dark alone? If you’re heading home from a night out, stick with friends as far as you can before you part ways, or arrange to walk with colleagues finishing at the same time as you.

5. Plan ahead

Planning your route in advance is a safer alternative, allowing you plenty of time to choose the one that looks the safest. Try to avoid darker areas - such as deserted pathways or alleyways - all of which could reduce your visibility. Instead, opt for well-lit, public areas that allow you to walk away from oncoming traffic. 

6. Stick to the pavement, or walk against traffic flow

Keep to the pavement where you can to enhance your safety, but if you have to walk on the road, be sure to walk against the traffic flow. This will improve your visibility on the roads, allowing you to keep an eye on - and avoid - any oncoming vehicles. The Highway Code advises that walkers should stick to the right-hand side of the road, walking in single file when in a group. 

7. Protect your valuables

As some criminals prefer to operate at night due to decreased visibility, it’s important that you keep your valuables - such as your mobile phone or wallet - close to you when walking at night. Keep these securely zipped away in a pocket or rucksack, which will make it harder for thieves to grab them, and they’ll be less likely to slip out. 

8. Practise public transport safety

When using public transport like buses, trains and trams on dark nights, it’s a good idea to place yourself in well-lit areas near other people. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid displaying valuable items such as smartphones, headphones, expensive jewellery, branded shopping bags and the like in your presence. If you feel unsafe on public transportation, consider moving to a more crowded area or notifying the driver or conductor as soon as you’re able to.

9. Consider using personal safety apps

Technology has many uses - including the enhancement of our personal safety! They have tons of features such as location sharing, emergency contacts, one-touch emergency assistance and much more. Not sure where to start? Here is a list of apps to look up on iOS or Android stores:

  • Noonlight

  • Life360

  • bSafe - Never Walk Alone

  • Shake2Safety - Personal Safety

  • BeeSafe

  • One Scream - Personal Safety

  • My Safetipin

  • Kitestring

  • Safety App for Silent Beacon

Keeping your home safe on dark nights

Outdoor safety in the dark is one thing, but dark nights calls for home security measures too. While most of these tips cover general home safety, dark nights call for extra precautions. Here are our tips to keep your home safe on dark nights.

1. Install a burglar alarm

Just as it’s important to keep yourself safe when you’re out and about at night, you can also enhance your protection by taking necessary steps to optimise your home’s security. With SimpliSafe, you can build a reliable home security system that caters to your individual needs, which can be customised as you please.

By installing a burglar alarm, you can go to sleep knowing that your home is secure. You’ll also have the option to add additional Entry Sensors, Motion Sensors and other sensors to enhance your system, which will activate in the event of a break-in. 

2. Lock up 

Before heading to bed for the night, make sure that you lock up all windows and doors - and don’t forget to secure your garage, too. This should be part of your daily routine, regardless of the time of day. Think deadbolts, door chains and even smart locks on your entry points. After all, you can never be too careful.

It’s absolutely worth investing in a Smart Alarm Wireless Indoor Camera that’s designed to instantly detect movement and trigger an alarm in case the worst happens. You can point them towards the entry points within your home so that your bases are covered. Plus, the loud siren that will trigger when movement is detected can help alert you (and even surrounding neighbours) that there’s an intruder.

3. Lock your valuables away and out of sight

This is a given, but something that may be easy to forget. If you have anything valuable in your home that’s easy to see through windows, consider keeping it placed out of sight. This goes for PCs, laptops, TVs and the like. It goes without saying that smaller, precious items like jewellery or gadgets should be locked away to reduce their chances of being taken should the worst happen. Consider a safe that you can bolt to the floor or wall to reduce the chances of it being broken into.

4. Lock up garden tools

Dark nights provide cover for thieves targeting outdoor possessions such as bikes, lawnmowers, garden tools and furniture. Absolutely secure these items by locking them in a shed or garage, or consider using sturdy chains and padlocks to prevent thieves from taking them away. If possible, anchor larger items to the ground or a fixed structure to make them more difficult to steal.

For sheds and garages, you may want to use our Motion Sensors as an extra layer of protection.

5. Optimise bedroom security

There are also ways to improve your bedroom’s security so that you’re able to act quickly if someone does manage to break into your home. For an additional layer of protection, keep a Panic Button on your bedside table - or anywhere that’s easily within reach. With the hit of a button, you can immediately activate your alarm system - either silently or audibly, depending on your preference. 

For those on our professional monitoring plan, our monitoring centre will call you to confirm your well-being, but if you don’t answer and are unable to provide your ‘safe word’, they’ll check your SimpliCam to visually verify an incident. If they can see that you’re in danger, they will alert the local authorities as soon as possible. 

6. Set up security cameras

Burglars climb walls and fences to access properties. To reduce the risk, a security camera is another major crime deterrent that will help to put your mind at ease on a dark night. Install indoor cameras in rooms that house valuables to ensure that they remain protected and near entry points, and also install an Outdoor Camera to keep the outside of your property safe. Equipped with high-definition video that’ll ensure that nothing goes unseen, and built-in spotlight and HDR that allows you see clearly 24/7, they’re a great way to improve your home’s security. 

7. Get a Bell Box

As the name suggests, a Bell Box is a box that sits outside of your home and emits a loud siren to alert your household and surrounding neighbours when there’s been an intrusion. What’s great is it’s visible day and night, meaning your safety is reinforced on those dark nights too - as the Bell Box is visible by anyone outside of your home. The very presence of one may be enough to deter burglars - and if they take their chances, they’ll wish they hadn’t!

8. Park with caution

Cars and other vehicles are a prime target for thieves, especially during the darker months. Try and park your vehicle in a well-lit area, preferably under a streetlight or near CCTV cameras where possible. Always lock your car and ensure that windows are fully closed. Avoid leaving valuable items in plain sight, and consider installing a car alarm or steering wheel lock for added security.

Got a driveway? Install a porch light to automatically switch on when someone approaches your home. You may also wish to install a Video Doorbell or Outdoor Camera that can cover footage of your vehicle at all times.

9. Use landscaping to your advantage

Garden security shouldn’t be neglected on dark nights. Tall hedges and bushes may be prime locations for burglars to hide, but if you consider the type of shrubbery you plant, burglars may think twice (especially if they’re going to get a prick or two!) FIrethorn, Holly, Hawthorn and Blackthorn can act as a line of defence. But when it comes to front garden security, a low fence or hedge (ideally under a metre or lower than your waist in height) can make burglars more likely to be spotted by you or your neighbours.

Home safety for dark nights checklist

Now that you know a few more of the possible ways to keep yourself and your home as safe, it’s worth keeping this dark nights safety checklist on hand in case you ever need a reminder:

General home security on dark nights

  • Check all locks on doors and windows, ensuring they are in good working condition

  • Install motion sensor lights, porch lights or floodlights around your home

  • Consider installing a smart home security system to monitor your home

  • Install an alarm system with motion sensors and door/window sensors

  • Secure outbuildings such as sheds and garages with sturdy locks

  • Lower shrubbery in your front garden but consider keeping it higher in the back

  • Avoid leaving spare keys in obvious hiding places

  • Be mindful of what you share on social media, especially when away from home for holiday shopping

Home security on dark nights when you’re inside the house

  • Keep curtains or blinds closed in the evenings to prevent visibility into your home

  • Use timers to turn on lights or radios to create the illusion of someone being at home

  • Store valuable items in a secure safe or lockbox bolted to the floor or wall

  • Mark valuable possessions with an identifiable mark or engraving and keep them locked away

  • Ensure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors work as they should

  • Create an emergency plan and practise it with your family - make it a game for kids to keep them engaged!

Outdoor home security on dark nights

  • Lock gates and secure fences to prevent unauthorised access (ensure all of your locks work too)

  • Anchor outdoor furniture and equipment to the ground or a fixed structure

  • Lock bicycles and smaller objects such as lawnmowers and other garden tools in a secure shed or garage

  • Park vehicles in well-lit areas and always lock them

  • Install security lighting and video cameras around your property - particularly at entry points and vehicles

Frequently asked questions about staying safe on dark nights

What is the safest way to walk home at night?

You can increase your safety walking home at night by sticking to well-light pedestrian paths and main roads with safe paths. You’ll want to ensure you’re highly visible at night. Walking against traffic is also your safest option if the situation calls for it. We know it gets incredibly cold on dark UK winters, but shortcuts on dimly lit paths can be unsafe - so it’s best to avoid them.

Is it okay to walk around your neighbourhood at night?

Whilst there’s nothing inherently bad about doing this, there is the increased risk of running into trouble at night, as this is typically when muggers and other criminals can be lurking. It’s worth knowing if there’s a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in your area to see if there’s been any suspicious activity.

With SimpliSafe, you can rest assured that your home will be kept safe around the clock, helping you to stay safe on dark nights. To find out more about our home security system, contact our team today.