We rely on electricity for all aspects of our lives. When it goes away, so do climate control, food storage and preparation, lights, and many forms of communication. Many times, a large-scale power outage is one of several secondary emergencies following a major disaster like a tornado, winter storm, or earthquake. If power lines are down over a large area, it may take days or even weeks for crews to get the power back on (a fact long-time Lexingtonians will recall from the 2003 and 2009 ice storms). Throughout October, we’ll be looking at ways to prepare for power outages and minimize their impact on our safety and comfort.
Lighting is one of our most basic needs in a power outage. The safest way to provide long-lasting emergency lighting is with battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps. It’s a good idea to keep flashlights throughout your home so you don’t have to stumble through several rooms in the dark to find one. Power outages often strike at inconvenient times – consider how you’d navigate your home if the lights went out while you were in the shower.
Flashlights, battery-powered lanterns, and headlamps all have different places in your emergency lighting plan. Flashlights provide strong directed light, lanterns illuminate in all directions, and headlamps keep your hands free for other tasks.
Keep a good supply of spare batteries in the sizes your lights (and any other critical items) need. Store them at room temperature in a low-humidity environment. Don’t put them in the refrigerator – the resulting condensation can cause corrosion over time. If you can, standardize your light inventory so you only have to stock one or two sizes of batteries for all your lights.
Carefully consider the pros and cons of rechargeable lights and batteries before investing heavily in them. Rechargeables are good for the environment and, if used for everyday tasks, can save you the ongoing expense of new batteries. However, in an extended outage, you may find yourself unable to recharge them unless you also have a solar charger or other alternate power source.