Some kind of SHTF/TEOTWAWKI situation has happened, society has broken down, and the power has finally gone off.
Or, some kind of natural disaster has happened, power has been cut off and my not be restored for several days to several weeks. After Hurricane Rita, my family and I spent 18 days without power. So power outages are not reserved for a long term SHTF/teotwawki situation.
My light preps are kerosene, hand crank lights, solar lights and your regular LED lights. Each light source has their own advantages and disadvantages.
For over a hundred years kerosene lanterns have been used by mankind in lanterns. Kerosene stores somewhat well, depending on the type of kerosene that is being stored and what the kerosene is going to be used for. Overtime bacteria develops and feeds off the fossil fuel; when this happens the fuel will start to gel.
To get the most out of your kerosene, you may want to consider treating it with a type of diesel fuel treatment that prevents the growth of bacteria.
Kerosene lanterns pose a fire risk, especially around small children.
When my family has to use a kerosene lantern, we place the lantern in a bathroom so the light can reflect off of a mirror, and several inches away from the edge of the counter top.
When picking a lantern, be sure to take the size of the reservoir into consideration. The larger the reservoir, the longer the lantern can operate.
If kerosene is going to be included in your long term SHTF survival plan, keep in mind your kerosene is going to run out sooner-or-later.
Handcrank Lights and Lanterns
With handcrank lanterns, you do not have to worry about the batteries going bad, and the lights pose less of a fire risk as compared to kerosene lanterns. The batteries will go bad and have to be replaced after long term usage. Other advantages of dynamo-powered lights – the consumer has everything from shake flashlights, to lights with built in radios at their disposal.
One of the drawbacks to handcrank lights, the light they produce is limited. The light probably will not be able to light up a 10 acre field, but on the amount of light is just right for a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
A few months ago my kids and I spent the night at the cam, aka the Bug Out Location. I guess it was around 10pm or so, my kids and I decided to walk around the property and look around. When we started looking for our flashlights, we realized that nobody had brought a good quality light with us. the only light we had was a Surefire on an AR-15.
My kids and I grabbed whatever lights we had and headed out. It became apparent real quick that the dynamo-powered lights were good for inside the house, but not very good for outside the house.
After that experience with handcrank lights at the camp, I decided to start stockpiling some LED lights and lithium batteries.
LEDs last for tens of thousands of hours, they are cheap, found just about anywhere, a lot of them are water resistant, and if you use lithium batteries, the batteries can be stored anywhere from 10 – 15 years.
With regular alkaline batteries being stored at the bug out location, survivalist run into two major problems:
1. Alkaline batteries lose their charge when stored over long periods of time.
2. Alkaline batteries can leak acid.
Two things you do not want to happen, go to your bug out location, grab a flashlight, only for it does not to work. Upon further examination you find out the batteries leaked and ruined the light.
Over the past few months I have been stocking LED lights that cost in the $20 price range. The lights are not dirt cheap, but do not cost a fortune either. Some of the lights are kept at the camp for family members to use.
Unless you have a way to charge AA and AAA batteries, sooner or later the batteries are going to go dead. There are a number of solar chargers and hand crank chargers on the market. For LED lights to be included in your long term survival plans, you really need a way to recharge them.
Solar Powered Lights
Most people do not realize that they have a renewable light source right at their feet. And that is those solar powered lights along the walkway. If you do not have any solar powered sidewalk lights, take a look at a local hardware store, or big box mart – such as wal-mart, lowes and k-mart. They are usually in the garden section.
When shopping for a solar powered light, do not get the cheapest ones on the shelf. But then again, dont go overboard on the price either. There are usually 2 different colored lights – clear and amber. Do not get the amber colored lens, they do not put out as much light as the ones with the clear lens. Be sure to get the lights that use an LED and not a regular bulb.
The way those lights work, during the day the solar cell recharges 2 AA batteries. As the sun starts to go down, a light sensor tells the unit when to turn on. Depending on how much sun light the solar cell got, that defines how much light the unit can provide. The more sun light the cell is exposed to during the day, the longer the burn time at night.
As the sun starts to go down, and the unit comes on – take it into the house and put it in the bathroom. Be sure to place the light were it reflects off the bathroom mirror. This provides people with a night light to be able to go to the bathroom.
Besides the bathrooms, other locations could include end tables, coffee tables and the dining room table. A lot of survivalist plan on using kerosene lanterns or candles when the power goes off. There is always a risk of the candle or lantern being knocked over – whether this is by and adult or child it does not matter. The risk of fire is present.
Using something like a solar powered light eliminates the fire hazard created by candles and lanterns. The energy source is renewable – solar power. And the AA batteries can be used in other things.
The solar powered light can also make good night light for children that might be afraid of the dark. Most parents have some kind of little night light plugged into a wall outlet. The children know this and expect the light to be there. Well, when the power goes off, there is no night light. Place the solar powered light in front of the current night light. Tell the child that is their “new light”. Hopefully, this can help ease the childs mind and keep things as close to normal as possible. And, unlike a candle or lantern, there is no fire hazard.
With one purchase – the solar powered sidewalk light – you now have a device that has more then one use. And all this time you thought they just looked nice sitting next to the sidewalk.
Besides sidewalk lights, there are a number of options that target third world countries. Some of the lights have an external to gather plenty of light to charge the batteries.
The only long term solution I see is solar power. solar is renewable, somewhat inexpensive, poses little fire risk, but does take some motivation to get started.
When the lights go out, the first thing people reach for is a flashlight. But sooner or later those batteries are going to lose their charge.
My ideal situation would be to have a couple of solar battery chargers, or some handcrank battery chargers stored at my home and at the bug out location.