Having a power outage emergency kit checklist is a must. An essential component of any disaster prep kit is multiple light sources. Not only are they particularly useful for finding your way in the dark, they can also be used to signal others and warn of hazards.
Also, having extra power on hand will not only ensure that you keep your lights on, but that all of your electronic gear will stay charged and ready. Today we will be covering your options for emergency light and power in survival situations.
Power Outage Emergency Kit Checklist: Let There Be Light
Just as it’s vital to have multiple ways to start a fire, it is also essential to have multiple light sources in your survival kit.
Each has their place according to the type of emergency situation you may find yourself in, and what works best in one scenario may be precisely the wrong choice in another. Here are some different means of lighting for you to consider.
- Candles – From tea lights and tapers to multi-wick monsters that burn for hundreds of hours, there is a vast range of candles available. Tea light candles can be placed at the base of a pile of tinder to help kindle a fire, and some candles are big enough to use for cooking. Candles are a very cheap way to mark locations or brighten up the immediate area. The biggest drawback to using candles—or any other open-flame light source, such as oil lamps—is that they can not be used where there is a threat of a gas leak. They also do not generate a great deal of light, can be messy, and most don’t last very long. It is difficult to keep them lit in adverse weather unless enclosed in some sort of protective casing (a hurricane lamp, for example). Candles are also a fire hazard in close quarters such as a tent.
- Lightsticks – Chemical light sticks are brighter than candles, have no open flame, generate no heat, and most last for at least twelve hours. They are waterproof, lightweight, and need no external ignition source. To activate a light stick, you only need to bend it to crack the inner casing and shake it to mix the chemicals. Light sticks are available in just about any color you could want, and it is a good idea to have multiple colors to designate hazards, shelters, etc. Light sticks are also inexpensive (particularly around Halloween), so it’s easy to stock up. Placing a light stick in a bottle of water will turn the bottle into a more prominent light source. Many have tabs with holes for lanyards, which makes it easy to hang them from branches, swing them as an attention-getter, or use them as necklaces. The most significant disadvantage to light sticks is that they can only be used once before they must be discarded.
- Flashlights – Flashlight technology has become very advanced, with components getting smaller, cheaper, more rugged, and more effective. Manufacturers of survival gear will add torches to just about anything, so there really is no excuse not to have several in your emergency kit.
- Most flashlight manufacturers have moved to LED bulbs rather than the old incandescent-type bulbs, which are more fragile and not as bright. Most LED bulbs last for thousands of hours, and they don’t draw as much power as the incandescent (which waste a large percentage of energy by generating a lot of heat), which means that your flashlight’s power source will last longer. You can get headlamps that leave your hands free, gloves with small LED lights at the fingers for close-up work in the dark, or a standard handheld flashlight. These have an extensive range of brightness, light spread, focal points, and power sources. Some have circuits that allow you to choose how bright light to shine, and others can flash an S.O.S. signal. Shop around and select the ones that work best for you.
Talkin’ About My (Power) Generation
The explosion in the availability of personal devices means that we are connected as never before. Most of us have a smartphone and/or tablet for everyday use.
These miniature computers serve as web browsers, music players, game systems, navigation aids and libraries, and specialized apps give them all kinds of extra capabilities.
In addition to these all-purpose gadgets, there are many pieces of equipment that have a dedicated niche in the outdoor and survival market, such as location beacons, emergency radios, electronic altimeters, and more.
While the rise of these small and powerful devices has been a boon for emergency preparedness, each of these machines needs the power to function. Fortunately, portable power generation has also rapidly developed, and there are many options to choose from.
Batteries – The most common portable power source. Batteries keep getting more efficient and less expensive. They do take up space and weight allotments, though.
You can cut down on how many you need to carry by using rechargeable batteries, but you’ll still need a way to recharge them.
Handcrank – A lot of emergency flashlights and radios offer a hand-crank with which to charge them. This may be the sole source of power or provided as one of many options. Turning the crank spins a flywheel, which charges the onboard battery.
An occasional variation of this is an item that you must shake, which propels a magnet through a wire coil to generate electricity.
Some of this gear has ports that allow you to charge other devices in the same manner. The efficiency of these generators varies widely, so read the technical specifications carefully.
Solar – Like batteries, portable solar panels are only getting better and cheaper. Again, many pieces of electronic survival gear will have a solar charging panel built in, either alone or with other options, but there are plenty of panels sold as separate pieces that you can use to charge whatever you need.
Pay attention to the output capacity to make sure the panels you get will efficiently charge your devices.
Wind – Portable windmill generators are available, but they aren’t very efficient yet, at least as compared to other devices. Still, it’s better than nothing, so if that’s your only option…
Thermoelectric – One of the newer technologies to appear on the scene, thermoelectric generators are based on the fact that heat moving from one side of metal to the other will produce electricity.
Several manufacturers offer items such as cook or coffee pots with insulated ports and fireproof charging cables that allow you to charge your devices as you boil water or heat your dinner.
The most significant advantage of this type of system is that, like solar panels, there are no moving parts, so (by taking some care with them) they can effectively last forever. It would probably be wise to have some extra fireproof cables on hand, though.
Fuel-Based Generator – These are the semi-portable to home-installed generators that run off a fuel source and produce enough electricity to power some to all of your homes. These are excellent to have if your home is your shelter during an emergency, or if you are evacuating in a vehicle and can bring it with you.
The biggest drawbacks are that they are noisy and, apparently, require fuel. They aren’t something you’ll want to carry, but if you have access to one, they are definitely the most powerful.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Come back tomorrow, when we’ll discuss proper orienteering methods. We’ll see you then!