Have you ever spent a night in your city when ALL the lights were out? I have! Kind of eerie, isn't it?
One night in the dark can be kind of fun — an adventure. But several nights, or longer, can be very difficult, especially if you have children who might be scared by the darkness for days.
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We recently took an inventory of our lighting preparedness — we aren't doing that well. We found we had a few flashlights but not near enough batteries if the blackout lasted more than three days to a week.
But more importantly, our flashlights are old and the lights are very dim. Not a great help long term. Time for some new flashlights! (Check out why your should replace your old flashlights.)
FLASHLIGHTS: Flashlights are one of the easiest emergency lights to store — there are so many sizes and types. One that holds two batteries will run continuously for 6 hours, although it is seldom used continuously for 6 hours. Batteries need to be stored in a cool area - not cold - just cool. Cold temperatures can ruin or shorten the life of batteries.
There are also combination solar-powered AM/FM/NOAA weather radios that include a flashlight and a USB cell phone charger.
HEADLAMPS: These are great when you need to have both hands free. They've come a long way from the days when they were heavy, awkward, and hot. The LED headlamps available today are small and bright. I keep a few of them in strategic and convenient places for when I'm working on the car or doing any project where more light on the subject is good, but you need two hands to do it.
EMERGENCY CANDLES: The best kind of candles to put into storage are those that come in a container, usually glass. They are safer and will burn longer with less mess. The Essentials candle burns liquid paraffin (wax), is smokeless and odorless, and burns for 115 hours. The wax is contained within the bottle so there is no messy melted wax to spill.
For enough light for reading light several of these candles. Candles are inexpensive ($5.00 - $10.00) and are not as dangerous as wax candles that are not in a container. Make sure they are out of any drafts and not close to anything that will burn. A quick draft can make the flame jump to any flammable object.
Candles can also be made from cooking oil. Take a piece of string, lay one end in cooking oil in a dish and allow the other end to hang over the edge. Light the dry end. Use 7 to 8 strings for more light. These are very smoky and should be used only when nothing else is available.
KEROSENE LANTERNS: The Coleman One-Mantle Kerosene Lantern is a durable camping lantern that features one-mantle with up to 700 lumens of high-intensity light and lasts up to 8.5 hours on high with 2 pints of kerosene. You can light the lantern with a match and dial in the desired brightness level with the adjustable dimmer knob.
A bail handle makes it easy to carry or hang the lantern, and the fuel tank provides a steady base when the lantern is placed on a table or other surface.
There are several versions of Coleman lanterns as well as other brands on Amazon. (affiliate link)
OIL LAMPS: Old-fashioned, standard oil lamps are a tried-and-true option. An oil lamp will burn from 60-120 hours, allowing your family to play games or read. Lamp oil is always safe to burn indoors without venting to the outside. You should always use the specific kind of fuel recommended for your lamp.
(Learn the best way to fill and use an oil lamp - step-by-step and easy.)
PROPANE LANTERNS: This Coleman PerfectFlow Lantern is reliable in outdoor illumination on dark nights when there is no electricity. There are several versions of lantern available on Amazon. This version has 810 lumens and a 7-hour runtime on high using only one tank of fuel. The two mantles light with matches and the illumination is completely adjustable from low to high with a clear, high-temp globe, a heat shield and a unique footed base.
LIQUID-FUEL CANDLES: These are similar to the oil lamps used back in biblical times. Using lamp oil, they will burn from sixty to one hundred hours. However, there is only a small, single flame so don't count on them lighting up a room. They give off about as much light as a dinner candle. They would be a good choice for a nightlight since they burn for so long. Just be sure and put them in a safe place.
SOLAR LANTERNS: Goal Zero has several solar lights that are eco-friendly and are solar charged. Most Goal Zero products will charge your cell phone, camera, gps, and other devices. Light up your campsite or use for ambience at outdoor parties.
LIGHT STICKS (Chemical): Lightsticks have come to be associated with emergency lighting situations. They were first seen at outdoor nighttime events such as on the 4th of July. They give off a nice green glow but are not a bright light. They could be kept in various places around the home for instant light to help find other sources of light in an emergency. They are great for storage as they cost little and need no other fuel. The only disadvantage is that they are a one-time use item. You shake to light them up, they burn for 8-12 hours, and they're done. Kids love them!
LED LIGHT STRINGS: These are ordinary Christmas lights but as long as they are LEDs, they come in extremely handy if you happen to have any kind of a generator. They are especially great if you have a solar generator because they are very energy efficient using only 4.8 Watts per string. String several of these 100 foot strings together and you have the whole room lit up. The kids will think it's Christmas!
SOLAR GARDEN LIGHTS: Yes, that's right - bring your solar-powered garden lights inside to use as nightlights. The bright-white LED lights are brighter than the amber lights. Though neither is bright enough to light up an entire room, the bright-white ones do a pretty good job of lighting a small area. Their value lies in their renewable light source - no batteries, no oil, no dangerous fuel. During the day, just put them outside or in a sunny window to soak up the sun's rays. Even in cloudy winter gloom, most will recharge enough to create a comforting glow that will last for eight to 10 hours.
I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments.