One of the first things we usually lose in a disaster is electricity. Sometimes the power outage IS the crisis, of course, but it is almost always a side effect of other emergencies as well. While the loss of power is inconvenient at any time, not having ready access to lamps and such at night can be rather troublesome. It can get REALLY dark at night when you don’t even have the ambient light from digital clocks and other electronic devices we often take for granted.
Having accessible light at night is a safety issue. We all think we know the layout of our homes exceptionally well. And, compared to outsiders, we do. Try this, though. Have a family member blindfold you and then try to get from your bedroom to the front door of your home. Make sure that same family member is close by to keep you from tripping and falling. If you really want to make things interesting, toss a few random Legos on the floor here and there and do the drill in bare feet.
On top of helping you to avoid trip and fall hazards, a flashlight will also be very useful in helping you to investigate strange noises and such. Plus, there’s the ever-present boogeyman danger, right?
I recommend storing one flashlight in every room of the home. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, you never know where you might be when an emergency hits and having a light within arms reach will make things easier. Two, what are the odds every flashlight you stash is still going to be in that spot when you need it? If you have kids, you know the answer to that question. This way, with a flashlight in each room, they might have grabbed the light from the bathroom but you’ll still have the one in your bedroom to use.
Add a flashlight to each emergency kit, each glove box, and then one out in the garage and basement, and you should be all set. A handy, very bright LED flashlight can run less than ten dollars.
There is little need to go out and buy a bunch of expensive “tactical” flashlights. However, the selections offered at your local dollar store might not be your best option, either. Personally, I’ve had bad luck with many of those, with them falling apart after minimal use.
One great option to consider is investing in a few dynamo flashlights. Sometimes called crank-powered flashlights, they don’t require batteries and instead work off of a kinetic system. You turn the crank for a few minutes and that powers the light. These are particularly great for homes with children as you know they are going to play with whatever flashlights you buy. This way, you don’t have to worry about the kids running down the batteries.
LED flashlights come in all sizes and with different capabilities. Some have more than one brightness, while others add laser beams and even programmable modes.
Flashlights are rated in terms of lumens, which is a measurement of light. Leaving all the physics aside, suffice to say the higher the lumens, the brighter the light. In broad terms, a flashlight in the 20-40 lumen range will likely suffice for most household applications. When you get up to around 100 lumens, you’re entering into tactical application range. Personally, I’m kind of a flashlight junkie and I have a couple of lights that exceed 1,200 lumens, which I’ll admit is overkill but, well, I like casting shadows on the lunar surface!