In a blink of an eye nearly a quarter of a million lives were lost due to a destructive earthquake in Haiti. Closer to home, every year in America natural disasters ranging from fires, snowstorms, and the usual hurricane, pound the country. With all of the calamity in our midst a renewed awareness has developed surrounding emergency preparedness.
Are you prepared if you lose essentials like power, shelter, running water, sanitation, and the like?
The recent tragedy in Haiti, coupled with the massive hurricanes that have hit America’s SE coast, has emphasized the need for households to prepare themselves should disaster strike. More and more people are looking for information on various items such as emergency preparedness kits.
This article will highlight one aspect that you would include in a kit, and that is light.
You won’t notice your need to see until you lose your electricity. Now, it obvious nobody is inept enough to live in complete darkness if electricity was never available, but generally you don’t truly appreciate something until you lose it. Even 24 hours without power will force a household to find light sources for few at least a few hours, if not more depending on location.
The chances of you becoming stranded and having to wait for aid is higher in remote areas. Generally the government recommends having a kit that will keep you safe for 72 hours.
When you think of lights, and if you’re lucky enough to be stranded in a place above ground, then you’ll likely have sunlight to help your days. At night, however, you’ll require light sources that do not electricity.
There are a few suggestions you should consider when putting together emergency kits, some require power sources, others do not.
Take for example flashlights. The best source of light and the one that provides, on average, the most reliable source, is a flashlight. They vary in size and strength. The issues with flashlights, however, are twofold. On one hand you the life of a flashlight will vary depending on power source. Most flashlights will barely last an evening’s worth of light. That is, of course, dependent on whether they are battery powered or crank powered.
Battery powered flashlights may lose charge if kept unused for too long, and they tend to last the least. LEDs over filament bulbs will also impact longevity. LEDS will use less energy to shine as their filament counterparts. They provide more light for less energy.
Some LED flashlights are now crank powered which means they generate a charge through someone cranking a handle. The charge is saved then used when turned on. This will obviously extend the lifetime of your light source, however, it depends on whether you’ll have someone capable to continuously recharge the light source. If elderly or incapacitated individuals are relying on the kit, this may not be the option.
Another source of light that also doubles as a source of heat are candles. Candles are inexpensive, yet do not emit very much light. You will require multiple candles to light a room sufficiently to complete a task. In times of emergencies you may not require a full room with light, but even then candlelight is limited.
Another danger to candles is the fire risk. The potential of falling asleep or having the candle fall to the ground and start a fire is high. This doesn’t suggest candles are a bad alternative for light, but they must be used with caution. Candles typically also last much longer.
Exposed candles are also at the mercy of their elements. If the area you require light is damp, wet, or the candle wick itself is wet, then you’re without a light source. Also, being outside may present a wind problem and an inability to keep your candle alight.
Another source of light is a glow stick. Glow sticks range in brightness and longevity. Typically green colored glow sticks last he longest, some as long as 14 hours, whereas colors like orange and red last much less. There are a number of benefits to having large glow sticks as part of your emergency preparedness kit. For starters, the glow stick does not pose a fire hazard, and because it is a chemical reaction, their reliability to produce light is very high.
Not only do glow sticks emit a large amount of light (more than a candle, broad than a flashlight), but they are not susceptible to the elements other than extreme cold. You can use a glow stick in a damp location and even underwater if necessary. Cold weather will in fact extend the longevity of the glow as the chemical reaction will be slower (but slightly dimmer).
The only con of glow sticks are their inability to produce any heat that you might get from a candle.
One single green glow stick could last an entire evening and into the morning. Candles usually last a couple of hours, and flashlights generally less depending on the size of the candle. That one single glow stick will cost you around 1 dollar. That’s 3 dollars over 72 hours. Flashlights will expire without batteries and candles can burn out, plus you require an initial source like a match to get a candle working.
So what should you use in your 72 hour emergency preparedness kit? I would recommend all three. They all have their pros and cons and most families actually have all three kicking around the home. All are generally inexpensive to keep tucked away in a kit.
So prepare yourself for the ‘just in case scenario’. Who knows, you may never need to crack open your kit, but you’re going to be prepared with a sufficient and reliable source of light if you take the simple and inexpensive steps to acquire the right resources.