Light. We take it for granted in America but did you know that over 1.1 billion people live without electricity? That is a quarter of the earth’s population that can not function or complete tasks that we here take for granted in darkness. Think about that for a moment. Surely you have woke up in the middle of the night off to the bathroom only to step on a misplaced toy or item, stub your toe or bump into something thought to be elsewhere due to lack of light? Now imagine not having the ability to turn on a light or switch? Imagine being forced to move around in the dark. We would be stuck in the darkness and limited to completing the simplest of tasks.
Having a steady light source not only better lets us use our senses during the night but it also eliminates the fear accompanied with darkness. When traveling down your hallway at night you can turn on a lightswitch to illuminate your path. With that option comes a feeling of being in control. Your mindstate and even the feeling of being in control play a pivotal role in keeping you from making irrational and even dangerous mistakes. Light might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing survival preparedness but not only is it a key to surviving life as we know it but also a tool help us succeed in dangerous situations.
Lights 4 main purposes in conjunction with survival preparedness is as follows:
1. Provides a sense of comfort and mental well being
2. Enables one to be functional in the darkness
3. It acts as a animal and intruder deterrent
4. It works into our bodies automatically to promote better health by creating Vitamin D as well as to reduce or prevent infection.
There are times when electrical power fails us. Usually under a disaster this is the first utility to fail. No matter how great and efficient modern electrical power can be without the power source we are left scrambling for secondary sources such as lanterns, flashlight and even kinetically generated energy sources. Don’t be the one scrambling for anything. Lets discuss some options now.
We might as well get the boring section of this chapter out of the way first. You want a light as bright as possible in most cases however there is not one preferred method of reporting light intensity, but several. This may makes product comparison a daunting task but with the right formula, comparison is possible. There are two separate ways to measure light: radiance and luminance.
Radiance: Light or heat as emitted or reflected by something.
Luminance: A photometric measure of the luminous intensity per unit area of light traveling in a given direction.
There are four types of light sources which light comes from. They are as follows:
1. Natural Light
2. Fuel Burning
Not only is it generated by the world we live in but it’s free! This includes Sunlight, moonlight and starlight. Even volcanoes, lightning and biochemical sources such as lightning bugs or fireflies create light.
Daylight is one of our strongest allies. As mentioned it is completely free in terms of energy cost. Try to complete all of your work under daylight if possible. Make the most of it. If you are on the receiving end of a power outage use every hour of daylight to brace you and your family for each nightfall. Gather supplies, assistance and better secure your shelter during daylight hours. The last thing you want is to be forced to fix something at dark without power when the ability to do it under natural light had just passed.
Fuel Burning Light
Its safe to assume that since the dawn of time and discovery of fire people have been burning fuel of sorts for not only light but also heat. These types of light consist of torches, candles, lanterns and bonfires. Fuel burning light also serves as a heat source, covering two basic needs at once.There may be times when this is unwanted, such as a hot summer night in close quarters.
Fuel burning light also has many disadvantages. You need to maintain and handle combustible fuel which can be messy not to mention dangerous. When deciding your light source also take into consideration not only the risk of introducing fire but also the smoke and flames that are emitted. Remember under dangerous times adding additional hazards means additional care must be followed.
While a great light source fire is much more than just that. Fire is also used to stay warm and cook food. Safely burn a fire inside your home if a wood stove or fireplace is present and also vented properly. Remember that when you burn wood carbon monoxide is released and if not vented outside it can build up in your home. The odorless gas can be fatal.
Chances are your fireplace if present is in place inside for purposes of heat and cooking and not as a light source however we also list it here for its importance. Outdoors it may be a catch all useful for staying warm, cooking and as a viable light source. Knowing how to start a fire really shouldn’t be just a “skill”. It should be one of life’s prerequisites.
First thing many families look for when the power goes out are the candles. They are included in every home emergency supply collection and for good reason. They burn for many hours and are very inexpensive. They may not put out a lot of light but if placed strategically in a given room they allow for enough light for its recipients to function properly.
There are also lanterns that use candles as its light source such as UCO Original Collapsible Candle Lantern. Some candles can be used for cooking such as the Triwick 120 Hour Survival Candle. These cooking candles put out enough heat to do some minor cooking. We must keep in mind that while using candles we also create a fire hazard. Take heed and follow safety guidelines when using any fire based light source.
Lanterns and Fuel burning lamps
There isn’t much of a difference between a lamp and a lantern. Both have fuel and electric counterparts. The table below discusses the variables and differences.
Lamps are filled with kerosene and enclosed with glass. They are usually topped by a felt or cotton wick that is adjustable. By feeding more of the wick out the lamps brightness will increase. Leaving less exposed ultimately reduces the level of light emitted. The wick while burning is fragile and the lamp must remain stationary while burning. Also oil can spill so if you need to transport your lamp while running do it with a steady hand.
Fuel burning lanterns are built with portability in mind. They are almost always built with a handle as they are hand held. As well as light, fuel burning lanterns also emit heat. This is done by lighting a cloth mantle through a flammable gas soaked with an oxide. During the heating of the oxide light is created. This takes some practice to operate successfully. You need to manually pump the gas pressure up or send fuel from a propane tank to light and run a fuel burning lantern.
A strong fuel burning lantern / lamp is a great source for light as well as a fair source of heat. Most lamps run on kerosene but lanterns use many different types of fuel such as white gas, propane, lamp oil and more.If you decide to use a lantern indoors please note that the only fuels permitted to burn indoors are kerosene and lamp oil. Others are known to create dangerous level of Carbon Monoxide which can build up in your family’s home and harm or kill its recipients. Another rule of thumb is to use a lamp or lantern that runs the same type of fuel also used to heat and cook with when possible.
There are many excellent choices for lamps and lanterns on the market today. They all have their pros and cons. For example: Aladdin units have been known to have better light output whereas Coleman units may be priced better.
Lamps and lanterns need periodic upkeep and maintenance so after reading the instructions or at the very least understanding the operation of your lamp or lantern make sure to buy several replacement mantles, chimneys, wicks and what ever else your light source may require. If you fear the fire hazard that is associated with a fuel burning light source then an electric counterpart may be for you. An electric option may also suit you better if you feel uncomfortable handling fuel sources or the odors emitted which some describe as unpleasant. The choice is yours and yours alone.
The process of electrical light being created happens when a filament (or solid state) is charged by a passing electrical current. In America all homes have some form of electrical power available and lack of light may be an issue for you. The modern incandescent light bulb can burn for thousands of hours so the odds of not having enough light to function is impossible.
Some filaments are surrounded by special gasses to increase brightness and efficiency as well as overall life. The introduction of LED bulbs has also increased the overall lifetime of the light bulb as well.
Does everyone in your family have their own flashlight? Well they should. A flashlight is one of the basic pieces of every common preparedness gear pack, make it a good one. This increases each family member’s readiness and combats fear in young children. Sure fire, mag light, Streamlight to name a few are all good flashlight manufacturers. The intensity of a flashlight can range between 5 to 500 lumens.
Over the past decade the technology behind the flashlight has increased immensely. LED light emitting diode bulbs help flashlights operate much longer on the set of batteries than traditional incandescent bulbs. The LED bulb also does not ever need to be replaced. The lone downside to this is the cost of each unit which can be expensive compared to traditional incandescent bulb units.
Make your family’s flashlight easy to find when misplaced or in the dark. cover them with reflective tape and bright colors. It would be wise to make them highly visible. stock pile up on batteries , you will need a modest stock of them for flashlights and electronic lanterns. View our chapter on electrical power for more information on battery types.
The concept is amazing. Generate electric by moving a magnet through an inductive coil by shaking the light back and forth. This is known as the Faraday principle. The sounds nice right? Just shake the flashlight and bright light is generated. What could go wrong?
Shake lights require one to physically shake them in order to store electrical energy of course. They may not be the best choice of flashlight for the elderly and small children due to the effort needed to charge them. You may need to shake vigorously for a few minutes to get just 5 minutes of light. Many of the lights are not very durable being more novelty than tools. As mentioned not only is the light not long lasting but it is not that bright either. The lumens outputted from the average shake weight is between 7 and 13 lumens. Set that next to a battery driven LED flashlight of a hundred and fifty lumens and you will clearly see the difference. They also contain a powerful magnet inside the light that must be kept away from electronics such as computers, cell phones, laptops excetera excetera.
The concept is lovely and with everything said I would opt into having one in my arsenal. Just do read as many reviews as possible and make informative decision. There are quality shake lights on the market.
These lanterns are helpful in the illuminating your shelter as they use reflectors to spread the light out. They will illuminate wider areas. Most electric lanterns are battery powered. Some are powered by a crank in which you would turn every so often to keep it going.
Most electric lanterns use one of three types of bulbs. LED, fluorescent or Krypton. One should compare each bulb type vs energy use, light output and bulb life. Lastly electric lanterns do not put out a lot of heat so don’t expect it to warm up any given area. They have no safety drawbacks such as potential fire hazard or indoor risk of use to do fuel risks, where dangerous levels of carbon monoxide may be emitted.
Fuel burning vs. Electric light chart
|Durability||Models vary||Models vary|
The glow stick concept is fairly new. Chemiluminescence is a chemical process in which a chemical reaction occurs and light is emitted. The sticks usually contain hydrogen peroxide and a colored dye inside a plastic sleeve. Inside that is a thin glass vial with the key ingredient Oxalate Ester. When the glass bottle breaks the chemical reaction occurs. this process can be sped up or reduced by heating or cooling the stick. For instance if you place to stick in boiling water it will glow bright and intense for a very short period of time. You can slow down the process by storing it in the freezer, prolonging its life by today or so.
These glow sticks are useful for many purposes, both military and commercial in nature. It can be used near explosives and underwater. They are waterproof and do not require electricity. They were first introduced to my family while camping. Each family member had one fastened and around their wrists and at night. This was primarily for night safety so movements could be tracked by our parents. In other emergency driven situations if your party isn’t lacking proper light sources such as a flashlight or lantern they could technically be used as low intensity flashlights, outputting a few lumens.
Each light source has many pros and cons and it is up to the user to decide which ones weigh in on a personal level of importance. In our next installment on light we will cover a breakdown of each light source to figure which ones are suitable for your specific needs. Stay tuned!