This Spring, Light up the Dark Places

Later this month, we will welcome spring officially, although it feels like it’s already here. We at SafeWays have decided to kick off Spring 2017 with a new look and a new focus on getting the word out to the Memphis community about some of the tools SafeWays uses to help make apartment communities safer. Most of these tools are applicable and effective in any environment – businesses, homes, schools, churches, and neighborhoods. One of the most important tools we can use to prevent crime – and one of the areas where the SafeWays team sees the most deficiencies as we walk and drive around Memphis, both on the job and in our daily lives – is lighting. Poor lighting is a very common problem in our city, and it’s an issue that we’ll be talking about more in the coming months.
Appropriate lighting is important for a number of reasons, some of which are rooted in basic human psychology. Environment affects human behavior. This applies to criminals, as well. They want to be able to commit their offenses without getting caught. This means going unobserved, if possible. Areas with insufficient lighting create a welcoming environment for opportunistic criminals. Also, law-abiding citizens feel less safe when there is not enough lighting. The unsafe feeling one gets in poor lighting conditions discourages people from occupying areas that are intended to be public or community spaces for their intended purposes after dark. This leaves a vacuum into which less well-meaning individuals can creep – using such areas for illicit purposes rather than those for which they were intended. Finally, in the unfortunate event of a criminal act, insufficient lighting makes it difficult for a victim to avoid or evade an attacker, not to mention providing a good description of their assailant to law enforcement afterward. In summary, good lighting not only deters crime, but makes people feel safer.
But where to start? Lighting is actually a complicated subject. One must consider not only what areas to light, but also select proper fixtures, bulb type, and lighting levels, in addition to preventing blinding glares and ensuring that lighting is sufficiently uniform to account for the human eye’s ability to adjust to fluctuations. There are, however, some basic rules that can help any property owner evaluate and improve their lighting to deter crime and feel safer, even if they feel that consulting with a lighting professional is beyond their reach.
First, stick to a white light source. If you wish to get away from energy-inefficient and short-lived incandescent bulbs, avoid fluorescent bulbs and pressurized sodium lights. These distort color and can seriously impair witnesses’ descriptions of criminal suspects’ clothing and vehicles. LED lighting is currently the best choice for the cost-conscious. If possible, go with a fixture that provides a “warm” LED light with less of a blue tint to it. Metal halide is the best white light source, but metal halide fixtures are more expensive and not as widely available as LED.
Next, plan to light any areas where you anticipate human activity at night, as well as any areas where an intruder would present an extreme hazard. This would include driveways, sidewalks, and doorways. Also consider lighting areas around windows that a burglar might find attractive, and areas where shadows create hiding spots around walking surfaces and doorways. Make sure your tree canopies and shrubs won’t block your lights or create deep shadows.
After you have your fixtures up, evaluate the lighting again to ensure that you have met your goals. Ideally, the lighting levels would be measured and compared to standards published by the Illuminating Engineering Society (ISE). But for those who don’t have equipment to measure lighting, a good general rule is that you want enough light so that one would be able to recognize facial features of another person from a distance of 30 feet. Also, check to make sure that you don’t have any wild fluctuations in lighting levels and that your fixtures are not creating any blinding glares on your property – or your neighbors’ properties.
This spring, we are challenging Memphis to light up the dark places where criminal activity can take root. A little crime prevention put into place now will go a long way as we come into the summer months.
To assist, SafeWays is offering our Lighting Map service to all apartment and business owners at a discounted rate for a limited time. Our Certified CPTED Specialists will walk your property at night with specialized equipment that allows us to measure and map the lighting levels. The SafeWays Lighting Map’s intuitive format makes it easy for you to determine whether you have enough lighting on site, or if more needs to be added. The map will also show the locations of any lights that we found to be non-functional. Your SafeWays Lighting Map can then be used by your lighting contractor to help determine where additional fixtures can be placed to resolve any dark areas. Your residents or patrons will appreciate your investment in their safety and security, and you will literally be able to see the difference every day. Well, every night, anyway.
This special offer is for a limited time only, and we expect our calendar to fill quickly. Obtain a pricing quote and schedule your inspection today by calling Managing Director Janine Heiner Buchanan at 901-331-7242 or emailing her at [email protected].