This is my first write up and a nodeshell rescue to boot, but particularly apropos since I am writing this at an hour when I would be sneaking around in the dark when I was living with my parents anyway.
So where to begin.... I think the best place to start is with the senses. You are in a darkened environment and have to use a restricted range of motion since you are avoiding noise at all costs. The hobbits were on to something when they said the Big People make a ton of noise. You must go in prepared.
You can't rely upon sight, but you can avoid destroying what little night vision humans are gifted with. If you are already in the house (like you are waking up to get a drink of water), don't reach for the light and turn it on. The light is painful (at least to me... the yellow face it burnsss us... gollum, gollum). I find that even the faint glow of motion detector lights and the LEDs of my computer are enough to let me see clearly at night.
If you are coming from a bright environment, try closing your eyes for a few seconds before entering the dark environment, or enter and wait for your eyes to adjust.
Mostly important for monitoring the level of noise you are making and for listening for other nightstalkers. You also should be listening for any changes in the breathing of people you are trying to avoid waking.
Highly important! When walking around late a night, you must pay attention to where you put your feet and where you put your hands. You need to be able to pause in mid-step if you feel something you are going to step on something you shouldn't (a dog's tail, glass, etc.). Touch is also important.
Special Tip: I usually keep my arms outstretched in the direction of travel and sweep lightly side to side to detect obstacles in my path.
Some of this is mostly relevant to coming in from outdoors. Feel free to eliminate steps which aren't relevant to your situation.
- If possible, remove your shoes. Even sneakers, which can squeak on a clean floor, or if wet.
- Remove clothes like coats, which can make a lot of noise when removed.
- Unlock the door and place the keys back in your pocket/pocketbook/key-receptacle of choice before opening the door and entering.
- Open the door slowly. Release the knob slowly. When in, turn the knob again and close the door. This avoids the sound of the latch being pushed in when the door closes.
- If possible, become familiar with the acoustic environment of your house.
What doors squeak when they turn on their hinges? What doors are tight fitting when closed. They will scrape when opened? Do some of the doors drag on the floor?
- Where do floors creak when stepped on? Wall-to-wall carpeting is not immune to this. I generally find that walking close to walls lessens the possibilities of squeaks. This reminds me of something I saw about nightingale floors....
- Be familiar with where furniture is. Try and visualize the room as you walk in the dark.
- Know where light switches, door knobs, pictures, etc.. are on walls. Banging into these can cause noise and pain.
- Walk slowly. Lightly run your fingers along walls when possible to guide you. Avoid walking straight through large rooms.
Of course all of this advice is useless, if when you reach your intended destination, you make a ton of noise by hopping into bed or knocking your glasses of the night stand or something. You must pay attention to noise until you are safely in bed and dozing off. How to stop snoring is someone else's problem!
Well, it needs some organization, but these are my initial thoughts. Hope this helps all of you would-be cat burglars. ;-)