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The material contained in these pages are the author's opinions, and do not reflect that of any other person or entity.  You are advised to seek expert opinion if you have questions or concerns about your specific emergency preparedness situation.

Lighting Overview
One of the things you can almost be sure of is that if a hurricane hits your area, the commercial power grid is going to fail.  Depending on where you live and how bad the infrastructure is damaged by the storm, it may be days, weeks or months before power is restored.  Even one night in total darkness can be scary, or even very dangerous.  There are several lighting options to choose from as you prepare your emergency kit.

You will notice that none of the lights I have listed on my web site include those with an open flame.  This includes candles, "hurricane lamps", and gas or kerosene lanterns.  There is just too great of a potential for fire with these types of illumination.  And remember, if you set your house on fire in the middle of a hurricane, you've got yourself a very serious problem!  So my advice is to avoid open flame light sources for emergency lighting.


Spot Lights

Those lights that concentrate their rays into a narrow beam are called spot lights.  Most conventional flashlights fit this category.  These lights are especially suited for emergency work for several reasons.  First, they tend to cast their beam a relatively long distance.  This is useful when trying to see objects far away, such when inspecting the roof of your residence for storm damage, looking out to see rising water, or to look for a lost pet. 

Like most things, you tend to get the quality you pay for.  Maglites are certainly an example of this rule.  I paid about $16 for my Maglite, which was a significant amount of money when I purchased it over ten years ago.  However, after these many years of use, it's still in great shape and can be counted on in an emergency.

The "D" cell Maglites are available with either a conventional light bulb or a high intensity LED.  The LED-style flashlights have an almost unlimited bulb life and are immune to the shock and impact that you would subject them to under normal use.  This makes them especially suitable for emergency use because the odds are much lower that you'll ever experience a bulb failure.  Additionally, LED light sources tend to be much more efficient, which means the batteries should last longer.  Though the LED version of this light is roughly twice as expensive as the conventional bulb version, it may be a good long term investment for your emergency supply kit.  

Finally, it's worth noting that the Maglite flashlights are widely used by police, fire and EMS responders nationwide.  This is further testimony to their ruggedness and reliability.  If I could only have one flashlight for emergency use, it would be a three "D" cell Maglite.


The "D" cell Maglite is one of the best all-around lights for emergency use


Rechargeable Lights

Though I don't recommend them as your only emergency light, self-powered lights are a great supplement to your emergency lighting kit.  The reason I don't depend on them is the unpredictable nature of the battery charge, and the potential for the moving parts to break in and emergency.  Even though you don't have to install batteries in them, they all have some type of internal rechargeable battery which will eventually fail.  In the middle of a hurricane is a bad time to have your sole light source die on you!  

I do like these lights for children to play with when the power goes of.  The crank makes gives them something to do (and helps burn excess energy), and they can play with them as much as they like without running through the emergency batteries.  But as I mentioned above, these should be used as a supplemental light and not your primary light source.

     
This Dorcy emergency light doesn't use conventional batteries.  
Instead, it can be recharged repeatedly by spinning the crank.


Area Lights - Small

A small area light such as the Coleman LED MicroPackerTM is a great little light for illuminating a small or confined space.  These lamps are excellent for lighting up a toilet area, child's room, home stairwell, or other limited area. This high-efficiency LED lamp will run for several days on  three AAA batteries, and provides a surprising amount of light.  At a retail price of $9.95, you can afford to have several on hand.


This Coleman LED MicroPacker (TM) is a great light for limited areas.  
It will run for several days on three AAA batteries. 


Area Lights - Large

I've tried several of the lanterns and the best I've found is the Ray-O-Vac Sportsman Lantern.  It's well constructed and provides a significant amount of light for the size.  These lights can be highly beneficial in  a power outage because they illuminate such a large area.  This can not only provide adequate lighting for home repairs, preparing meals, and reading, but also provides a psychological boost by allowing activities that give some semblance of normalcy.  New for this year is the LED version.  This light only requires three "D" cell batteries, and runs two to three times as long as the former fluorescent model while actually producing more light.  


The RAYOVAC Sportsman lantern is great  for illuminating a large area of your home

Personal Lights
During a power outage after a hurricane, you may wish to only light select areas of the house in order to conserve your batteries.  In that case, you'll need a small pocket light to use as you go to unlighted areas of the home.  There are a variety of great lights on the market for this purpose.  But one of the best ones for the money that I've found is the 100 lumen lights made by Defiant.  They are available at Home Depot in a package of two for nine dollars.  They run for several hours at a time on just three AAA batteries, and produce a brilliant light with a relatively long range.  For the money, they're hard to beat!


The Defiant 100 lumen pocket lights from Home Depot

 

Batteries
As far as bang for the buck, I prefer alkaline batteries for most of my devices.  This is especially true for lighting.  I tested four name brand batteries in both the AA and "D" cell sizes to see which would last the longest under simulated flashlight load conditions (using a West Mountain Battery Analyzer).  For AA batteries, the least expensive (COSTCO Kirkland brand) performed the best.  For "D" batteries, Ray-O-Vac was the winner.  Keep in mind that depending on the type of load and current draw, the results of this testing may vary.  For instance, in a low current drain application such as an MP3 player, another battery may have been the top performer.  But for your purposes, this is a pretty good place to start.   


In my computerized load testing, I found the COSTCO Kirkland AA 
batteries lasted the longest under a flashlight load simulation


In my computerized load testing, I found the Ray-O-Vac "D" cell 
batteries lasted the longest under a flashlight load simulation


Internet Links

Ray-O-Vac LED Sportsman Lantern

Coleman Battery Powered Lights 

Maglite Flashlights 

 

Owner: Haskell L. Moore
All articles are property of the owner, and may not be reproduced in whole or part without
written permission from the author. Copyright © 2008 - 2012
Email me at: HurricaneHaskell@gmail.com