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Emergency Preparation: Light Source
Depending on your location, there is potential for blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes to disrupt your way of life. When disaster strikes, there is nothing better then being prepared. This is the first of many that examine what is needed to survive the initial disaster, at least until help arrives.
During any major disaster, one of the first things to go is light. Wind, rain, earthquakes and snow can cause power lines or even poles themselves to fall. Not having a source of light can hamper treating injuries, finding loved ones and pets, or safely escaping from a damaged home or building.
One of the easiest and safest sources of light is a simple flashlight. These are great for grab and run in case evacuation is needed, or general searching. There are several types of flashlights on the market; however, with flashlights you must remember to check your batteries, and have backup batteries on standby. Nothing is worse then finally finding your flashlight and it is dead. I would strongly suggest investing in a hand crank LED flashlight. These allow you to crank the flashlight by hand, to charge up the internal rechargeable batteries. A minute or less of cranking and you have a nice light source. Some of the newer models come with either cell phone chargers, AM/FM radios, or an emergency radio. Always nice to have handy.
Assuming you have not purchased one, or do not have one handy, the next best thing is a simple LED flashlight. Make sure that you store it in a location you can always find, and if expecting inclement weather, make sure it is nearby. Also have two to three extra sets of batteries on hand. There are several types, from the kind that resides on a keychain, to the kind that you can clip on your hat for hands free usage, and even the traditional standby that you hold.
Another source of light is a lantern. These would be used during a long term outage to provide light for an entire room or major building area such as a kitchen, conference room, or cubicle area. Lanterns come in three types: Battery operated (usually “C” or “D” batteries), hand crank, and oil/propane/candle. For the battery operated ones, make sure you have 5 to 6 spare batteries, and a replacement bulb or two. For bulbs I would suggest LED first, then small CFL as a second option. A replacement bulb is necessary incase the bulb burns out, or an object has crushed the original. For propane or oil lanterns, make sure there is a couple extra sources of fuel, plus two or three lighters, and a box of waterproof matches. This gives you a couple options to light it.
A third source of light is a large amount of candles. However, these should only be used as a last resort and once you are sure there are no gas leaks in the house, and that the area is stabilized and there is no risk of items shifting and dropping the candle in the floor. Creating a fire hazard in an emergency situation would only make matters much worse.
Once you have created your lighting kit, purchase or find a waterproof bag to store them in. I would recommend also placing your batteries in zip lock bags to further protect them from the elements, along with lighters and matches. Make sure this bag is in a location that is easy to access, easy to find, and keep one flashlight out (preferably a keychain light) so during an emergency your bag can be found. Nobody likes to imagine themselves to be in an emergency situation, but being prepared can give you what is needed to survive until help arrives.