Light During a Power Outage
The storm has pommeled your part of the country. Again. It was the second major storm in the past few months, and there’s another one on the way next week. They say this one carries high winds with it and to be prepared for power outages.
At some point, you have to start wondering why you live here. But then you remember that raspberries don’t grow in the Bahamas, and if you lived in the tropics, your kids would never go to school. And oh yeah, you’re upside down in the mortgage. Still.
OK then, back to reality. Tropical dreams thwarted.
So instead of suffering through it – or being even the tiniest bit afraid – you take charge and decide to properly outfit your family in the lighting department. It will serve both the current SHTF coming at you in the form of Superstorm Lady Gaga, but should the very worst happen, you’re also not just hanging on – you’re actually having a good time. And you can more easily lend a hand to your neighbors or your extended family who didn’t prepare.
And oh yes, a storm can hit anywhere – especially in the tropics. So it wouldn’t matter if you lived there anyway, you’d still be wise to get your lighting kit in order. You never know and having a well thought-out lighting kit that suits your needs may just help you keep your sanity.
Aren’t a Flashlight and Some Candles Enough?
Sure, for a night or so – assuming there’s no extenuating circumstances, such as unrest or extreme weather. If a car just hits a transformer one night, sure, a flashlight and some candles will do.
But if you are at all concerned about your family’s safety and security beyond one night, you’ll need to go a step further. A flashlight alone won’t turn a difficult time into a happy one. And candles are quite dim unless you have a boatload of them – and even then, they’re messy and can be a hazard.
Think Diversity When Lighting During a Power Outage
Diversity in your lighting is what will keep you the safest and happiest in the event of an emergency. Start with your basic flashlight and emergency candles, but quickly start outfitting yourself with different types of light.
Think about the uses for light in your world, and what you’d use for each case. Lighting a room to eat and live in takes a different type of light than lighting your walkway to see who’s coming or keeping an eye on your dog when he goes out in the yard to do his business. Having different types of lighting will help you do tasks faster and easier, and help you create that “homey” feel we all crave – especially in an emergency.
Here’s a basic lighting kit
Some of my readers have this totally covered. They’ve got a total solar solution, and can make their own lamp oil. But if you’re not one of them, I hope my own kit helps you think of things you may not already have covered.
1. A long-range spotlight
This is essential for security. Ask someone who lives on land (such as a farm or ranch) – being able to see at a distance in the dark is critical. And consider a time in which you may have to patrol your property or your neighborhood – you’ll need to be able to see into pitch dark.
Even if you just let your dog out or walk him at night, a spotlight will let you see into the night before your pup gets tangled up with a potentially skunky mess.
When you’re evaluating this item, please note: there are two types of spotlights. One type has a removable battery option, and the other has a built-in option. Spotlights with removable batteries are usually less powerful.
I opted for a built-in power source type – because for me, when I need that sort of light, I really need it to be powerful. I mounted mine next to a plug at my front door, so it’s always plugged in. But before I did that, I lived in a rental and never plugged in the light. We used it every night to make sure our dog didn’t find a deer or other animal – and it never ran out of battery. Others who chose this spotlight also reported a long battery life.
2. A small heavy-duty flashlight for every person in your home.
If you need something a little bigger…My favorite is a Maglight: they’re really solidly built, and made in the US. A Maglight is so heavy-duty, that I consider mine to be a backup weapon. I power these with rechargeable batteries that are recharged with a solar charger.
For each room in your home that you’ll want to light, consider making sure you have a solar powered light. This is critical for extended outages, and the right one will generate enough light to read by – which will help with boredom and anxiety (so make sure you still have some books around).
4. Instead of candles, opt for an oil lantern with a hurricane glass
In a very prolonged event, the batteries could run out – or in the case of a solar EMP, they may not work at all. And while solar chargers are great, heavy cloud cover could impede them. But more importantly, to me, is that I want layers of light in a post SHTF situation – I don’t want everything to be done by flashlight. Ick. An oil lamp is inexpensive and can be re-fuelled easily. Plus, they won’t melt wax all over the place and be messy (tidiness in an emergency will help keep sanity). Make sure you stock lamp oil, extra chimneys, and wicks for the long term. When you are storing lamp oil for a long time, consider storing it in a gasoline storage container (I use this one). I’ve seen instances of the lamp oil weeping through the original bottle and out the bottom.
5. At least one headlamp
This is helpful for lighting an immediate area while you are working. If you need to cook in an unlit room or even outside, a headlamp will save your bacon (pun kind of intended). A moderately priced headlamp is a good choice, unless you’re into cave spelunking and need something stronger.
I hope this gave you a few ideas on how to light your home when the power is out. If you’re interested in the subject, I also wrote a post recently on how to hack outdoor solar lights for emergencies.
What does your emergency lighting kit look like? Please, don’t keep us in the, er, dark.