Preparing For That Power Outage
It’s going to happen. Most likely at the worst time. Most likely at night when you can’t see a thing. And now it’s too late for the question ‘ My power went out what can I do?’ And no internet to answer that question. Good thing you are reading this now!
Here’s a list of 7 devices you might want to consider having on hand before that ‘my power went out’ question.
- Head Lamps
- Oil Lamps
- Propane Lamps
- Solar Indoor or Outdoor Lamps
- Glow Sticks
Power Outage Prepare Solutions
It’s never a good time. You are relaxing on the couch with your phone or tablet, or even a good book— perhaps reading an article on how to prepare for a power outage — when lightning flashes against the windows followed by a crack of thunder. An instant later the lights go out and you are sitting in a very dark and quiet room.
Where’s the flashlight? Does it even have fresh batteries inside it? Why didn’t I prepare?
Do you start fretting over the fact that you did not heed the warning of your spouse when it was asked of you weeks ago ‘do we have working flashlights and where are they?’ I had those ‘I told you so’ moments from my wife at times. Let’s put a rest to that.
Hopefully, you have an easily accessible flashlight in each room so you don’t have to go digging through drawers and cabinets in the dark as I have in the past. However, if it’s a long power outage, you don’t want to use flashlights the entire time because batteries just don’t care. They will give out. At some point, you will break out the candles if you have them and know where they are.
Light Options When Darkness Falls
Let’s take a detailed look into those light-generating options.
Everyone has at least one flashlight somewhere, but is it in good condition? Batteries drain over time, so if the flashlight has sat for a year without being used, it might be time to check the batteries.
Even if the batteries are good, the flashlight might not be very bright or reliable if it’s really old. Make sure you have a good flashlight in every room. It’s no fun being in the middle of a power outage with flashlights that don’t work.
Small LED flashlights are bright enough for most purposes, and easy enough to store by the bed, in a drawer, and by the door, so you always have a light handy if the power goes out.
Another option is dynamo flashlights which usually charge with a hand crank. I have a radio that not only uses a hand crank to power the radio, it also has a built-in flashlight
These are alright for short-term use, or slightly hyper kids, but could be awkward if you’re trying to actually work on something. They are good for storing in the car, or in a rarely looked at emergency kit, since they don’t have a battery to run out.
Ones with a pump-style dynamo, as opposed to a turning hand-crank dynamo, are easier to use and harder to break. The biggest drawback of the dynamo flashlights is that they do not hold the dynamo charge for long, and require nearly constant effort to maintain power.
2. Head Lamps
If you need both hands for something such as turning the page of a book but you also need a flashlight, headlamps are the perfect solution. You could also just leave it on your head and turn it on when you go to the bathroom or an unlighted room.
Candles are often among the first choices for emergency lighting. They are easily attainable, have no expiration, and are easy to use. However, they are also a danger due to being an open flame. If candles are part of your power outage preparations, make sure that for every type of candle you also have the proper non-flammable holder for it.
For taper candles, get some sturdy candlestick holders that won’t easily tip over, and put them on a flat, non-flammable surface. For pillar candles, make sure they are always set on a non-flammable surface. The same goes for votive candles, tea lights, and any other homemade candles.
4. Kerosene / Oil Lamps
These are awesome light sources, especially the old-school hurricane lanterns. As with candles, however, they are an open flame so you need to be careful with them. Oil lamps also give off more heat and carbon dioxide than candles and should only be used in a well-ventilated room.
Store lamp oil in a non-corrosive container as it sometimes eats through the plastic bottles. If you decide to use oil lamps, keep extra wicks as well as extra oil on hand.
5. Propane Lamps
Propane lamps (such as those used for camping) can also give plenty of light in a power outage. The danger of such lamps is their high heat output and high oxygen use. A propane lamp should be used outside or in a well-ventilated area. If you decide to use a propane lamp, make sure you have a few extra propane bottles to keep your light going.
6. Battery Powered Lights
Flashlights aren’t the only type of light powered by batteries. You can also get battery-powered lanterns, folding lights, and even candles.
You’re going to use a lot of batteries if you go this route, so you might want to invest in some rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger. Rechargeable batteries don’t last as long so you’ll be changing them a lot, but at least you won’t have to deal with kerosene or lamp oil. It depends on your preference.
6. Solar Indoor / Outdoor Lamps
There are duo dynamo/solar lamps that you can charge with sunlight, or by using the included dynamo. Some of these even have ports so that you can charge your phone (like this one).
If you don’t care about the dynamo, there are plenty of lamps that work well with solar power alone. The survival solar air lantern works for up to 12 hours on a single charge. There are also many solar desk lamps to choose from. Depending on the lamp, they can be brighter than an oil lamp and can last for several hours.
Depending on your purpose and location, outdoor solar lights may be a good idea for emergency or power outage use. Most solar lights will last from 6-8 hours on a single charge in the summer, possibly only 4 hours during the winter months. Some motion-sensing solar lights can last all night on a single charge, even in the winter.
While solar lights are usually kept outdoors, you can bring them inside if you need extra light. In fact, some of you probably already have solar garden lights. A large vase can hold several of these with ease and provides concentrated light if you do not have an oil lamp or indoor solar lamp.
One way to keep kids and yourself entertained during a power outage is to break out and use glow sticks for light. These little sticks are long-lasting, fun, and fairly inexpensive. They can be propped in corners or tied to clothing to provide ambient light. Other options include glow bracelets, necklaces, and UV Paqlite. Depending on the color, they may even be bright enough to read by.
Safety During A Power Outage
While light sources are always useful, they can always be tweaked to greatly increase the amount of light given by the source.
When using candles, put a tin pie plate behind the holder and under the candle. The reflection will increase the amount of light by several candle-watts. If you have candle wall scones, add a tin pie plate, or sheet of tin foil behind the scone. It will not only protect your wall from heat but reflect more light out into the room. Use a foil background to increase light outputs from oil lamps and glow sticks as well.
Smaller rooms need less light to feel bright, so you might want to gather your family into one small room and read together to make the most of your light sources.
Finally, in a power outage, don’t be afraid to use all your natural light resources. Open blinds and curtains to let in as much light as possible. Only close curtains after dusk have fallen, as then the curtains can reflect your light sources back into the room.