We’ll get back to security concerns in a week or two. This week, I want to talk about lighting. It is important, even critical, to be able to see what you’re doing and in a “grid down” situation, that can be difficult without having planned ahead.
Of course, there are many means of providing artificial light inside a home or retreat. This week, we’ll discuss several of them.
Candles are inexpensive, especially if you pick them up at after Christmas sales. It really doesn’t matter if it is the middle of August and you’re burning candles with Santa and reindeer on the sides. Light is light, right? The downside of candles is they can be a safety hazard. Never leave a lit flame unattended! Be sure every candle you light is on a stable surface so there’s no risk of it toppling over. Also, candles don’t last forever. A lot depends on the actual composition of the candle, of course, but don’t look to candles as being your primary backup light source in a power outage.
Oil lamps, sometimes called hurricane lamps, are a step up from candles. They last longer and burn cleaner. Glass ones are fragile though so again caution is warranted. If you go this route, be sure to stock up on plenty of lamp oil. Also bear in mind that when you blow them out, the glass can get very sooty so you’ll need to clean them regularly.
Battery powered flashlights are great for portable light. Go for LED ones rather than incandescent. LED will be brighter and last quite a bit longer, both in terms of battery life and bulb life. There are many varieties of crank powered flashlights as well, some better than others. Generally speaking, with these you get what you pay for. If you pick up a few at your local dollar store, don’t expect them to last as long, or be as bright, as ones you’d buy at a sporting goods store. I’m admittedly something of a flashlight junkie and have them scattered throughout the home as well as in almost all my kits.
Headlamps have come a long way and are highly recommended. The old kind that used incandescent bulbs were hot, heavy, and uncomfortable for the most part. Today’s headlamps use LED bulbs and are both lightweight and bright. Headlamps are excellent for when you need both hands free. They are not overly expensive either if you shop around a bit.
Handheld spotlights are useful but have limited battery life. Most of the ones I’ve seen lately charge an internal battery via an AC adapter or a 12v car adapter. For sure they give off a ton of light, which can be very handy, but if the grid is down, you might have trouble keep it charged.
Solar lights, the kind used in landscape projects, can be great to have. They are fairly cheap and give off enough light to read by, if you keep the light close by. Set them outside to charge during the day, then bring them in at night. Not a perfect solution by any means but given that many people already have these lining their front walk, it is simple enough to bring them in after sundown.
Another type of solar powered light is the Waka Waka Light. You can read my full review here. This is an incredibly powerful light that is powered only by the sun. It lasts a long time on a single charge and is bright enough to light up the average room.
Your assignments this week:
1) Go through your lists and then check through the house again and see what you already have on hand for emergency lighting. Begin acquiring new batteries as needed but I strongly advise you to consider using crank and solar powered lights.
2) Take a look back through past assignments and see what you’ve missed. Plug the holes as you can.