In a grid scenario below, as basic as a thunderstorm that leaves you without energy, there are some priorities you’ll have for things to move back into your home. Depending on where and how you live, this list may vary, but usually involves food and water systems, communications and lighting. These basic components are key to restoring a normal state in your home. But without having sources of light at hand, you can not even begin to build on your other systems.
Here we will discuss some simple options for emergency lighting in the home, its advantages and disadvantages, and the things you can do to prepare your home for common power failures, which can be debilitating in the right (or wrong) circumstances.
Evaluate your emergency lighting needs
First, you want to take a look at your home and your lighting requirements. We are not talking about the things you would like to have, but about the areas of your home that will see the traffic and should be well lit. In addition, you want to cover things like mobile light sources, in case you have to go out and check the switch box, or tend to livestock.
For most people, the list of rooms they need to light up, at least when they are in use, is a common living area (where, in emergency situations, you might consider sleeping on the family to simplify things), a bathroom and a shower, and a kitchen. Anything else can be considered quite secondary, unless, of course, you have other concerns that require special attention. The things you want to keep in mind are particularly pets that require light as a source of heat, children who may be afraid of sleeping in the dark, corridors without windows, etc.
Once you have your list, start by evaluating the type of lighting you will need in two categories: mobile and stationary. Is it possible that you have to go out and repair a fence in the dark? If someone is injured, do they have an adequate mobile light source to provide medical care?
As extravagant as some of these ideas may seem, when there is no energy, there are few things that surround it without first having a system of emergency light to which to turn: there is no light, no repairs. Put it on paper, and get ready.
Working with what you have: sources of power.
The biggest challenge to overcome in this scenario is, of course, to establish a reliable source of energy, preferably renewable. In the case of power outages, you never know how long it will be out of service, it could be a couple of hours or a couple of weeks. I have dealt with both, and the latter is particularly frustrating and unattractive if all you are packing are scented candles and flashlights from the dollar store.
However, I write this article under the assumption that, like me, you are not a millionaire and can not afford to go out and slap solar panels on your roof or place them in a windmill. Here are some basic sources of energy / fuel you can look for in the lighting, depending on what you really have on hand, rather than what you would like. Remember, you needed these systems yesterday. It does not make sense to extend the planning process even further with unnecessary financial burdens.
Wood fireplaces, wood stoves, campfires.
This category depends to a large extent on the type of home you have and, obviously, has its limitations. If you live in an apartment, you probably do not have a fire pit in the backyard. However, for those who have been blessed with the equipment to make this option a reality, wood can be a great source, obviously, not only for light, but also for heat, which gives it high points in my life. book as dual-use fuel. This, together with the fact that wood is often very cheap or free, makes it an excellent choice for those who are suitable for its use.
If you have a wood stove or fireplace, be sure to always have a supply of wood on hand, regardless of the season. Although fire is not the best source of light, it can provide enough to illuminate a common area, and you can definitely add a pleasant atmosphere to a bored and helpless night (think: fire + s’mores + story time = very happy children) .
Compressed gases-propane and butane lamps.
If you have ever been camping, you may have used one of these little things. They are incredibly practical, emit a strong and pleasant light, and are very clean and have no smell. However, this source loses points with me because it is not terribly renewable for your pocket book, those small pots last so long, around 4 to 9 hours, depending on how bright you are burning them.
In addition to their inability to last long enough for emergency lighting needs, many people also find a bit of a disgust factor with the entire part of the compressed gas. Although they are very easy to use and quite safe, I will say from personal experience that there is always a bit of “hold your face, light the wick and hold your breath”. Leave the gas on for a long time, while pushing the grill grate down to the wick, and you will probably hear a cardiac arrest sound when the collected gas is turned on at once.
Electricity-batteries, generators, battery boxes, solar, manual.
This is a fairly broad category, just because there are so many options available these days. The good thing is that the lights these days require very little energy, especially our lovely LED friends. So, really, any of these options is perfectly viable to meet emergency lighting needs. The question is: how versatile do you want them to be (I’m looking at your battery boxes, more on that later), and how economically viable they are for you.
As for the batteries, I would only buy the rechargeable batteries, since anything else is an absolute money well, even if it is only for flashlights. Get some chargers and have them ready to go all the time. But as soon as the power goes out, remove them, because they lose the charge if they sit in an electrical outlet. It is definitely an investment for something of a substantial amount, but much more work than throwing away and replacing innumerable AA’s.
The generators are incredible, since they can feed what you really need, not so much because they require the expensive purchase of a generator (if you do not have one yet) and gasoline to make them work. There is no gas, there is no energy.
Battery boxes are definitely my favorite choice, not only for lighting, but for anything you may need. All you need is a collection of old (but decent) car batteries, an energy inverter, some jumper cables and that’s it. Maybe a big sturdy toolbox to put it all in if you’re like me and you hate dusting jumper cables, but really, a super simple configuration and many applications. We’ll go over this later, and I’ll give you some details on how you can do yours.
Solar energy needs no introduction, only specialized equipment that not everyone can have. However, its renewal capacity is undeniable, making it ideal for those scenarios where you simply have no idea how long you will be without power. Just make sure you are not taking advantage of sunny days on the day of your needs and have some batteries charged and ready to use.
The manual power is a little outdated, but reliable and reliable. I’m talking here about those crankshaft lights that turn your good old elbow grease into electricity and light. It may not be the most convenient option, however, they are reassuring and quite cheap. Have some of these a basic element in your home.
Do not forget the candles.
This is an old basic element of the energy cut scenario. However, it goes without saying that it is not only a very temporary measure (have you ever noticed how fast those $ 30 aromatherapy are burned?), It is a rather poor source of light.
And, of course, they are also quite insecure, with melted wax and an open flame, whether they have children or not. In short, it’s good to have them close, but I would never consider this as emergency lighting.
Principle for preparation-hiding
Once you have assessed your energy availability and the types of emergency lighting you will be using, start saving. Think of strategic places around the house, preferably in each room, where you can store a portable light source. In this way, if someone is in a crowded closet or in an upstairs bathroom when the electricity fails, the light is close and there is less risk of accidents.
However, make sure that the other inhabitants are really aware of where you put these things and do not expect them to remember 15 different places in the heat of the moment. Try to keep the places so that the light is constant, despite the room, that way everyone can remember where to look for a flashlight (keep in mind that the power will be outside, they will feel in the dark).
In particular, I love to put things like these on the walls and inside the doors of the cabinets. You do not have to worry about hitting yourself under the kitchen sink in the middle of detergent bottles and scrubbing brushes, and it’s tidy and out of the way. If your light source has nothing to hang, put something in its place.
Drill a hole through a plastic box if necessary. Zip ties are wonderful for hanging impromptu things. Get some hooks that can support the weight of what is hanging (the hook will not work for a flashlight filled with D batteries) and start moving from one room to another.
Another great option for your “light source in each room” are those small and wonderful lantern flashlights. I’ve probably seen them in places like Home Depot. Delightfully simple, basically these little wonders of LED work like night lights. Then, if the electricity is cut off, the light can be turned off (usually a small flashlight) to be used in the house. They can be a little high when you talk about buying a dozen of them (usually $ 10 – $ 20 each), but they’re still useful anyway.
When you are finished, walk through each room of the house with your family and show them physically where they can find the emergency light. Behind the doors or inside the cabinets, wherever they are, just make sure they are easy to find and everyone understands that they absolutely have to stay there.
Stationary light sources
Once you have all the mobile light sources in place, you may want to install a more stationary emergency lighting system in your common area. This is a matter of personal preference, but in the past I discovered that it is tremendously convenient to have a large work light installed and ready to operate in the event of power failures.
Regardless of what you end up using, it does not make sense for you to have something that breaks when someone hits you in the dark. Get a great LED work light of some kind, which you can see in a mechanic’s workshop or something. You want it to be functional, and if it’s as ugly as sin, do what I did and put it on a wall behind a door so you never have to look at the damn thing.
Near your fixed light, or better yet, connected and ready to work, have your power supply. Whether it is an extension cable for your generator, or an energy inverter, in any case, configure it for the long term. This means finding a way to store cables or electrical components, both for their aesthetics and safety. The last thing you want is for your little one to play with the spark plugs.
We use a battery backup box for our stationary light source, and we have all the components in a large plastic latch toolbox that we picked up at Wal Mart. However, keep in mind that if your power source is heavy and you want to move it, you will want something stronger that can support the weight of, say, half a dozen car batteries.
Once you have set up all of this, again, let your family go through its components and make sure everyone knows how it works. While you may be prepared for the emergency, you may not always be there to make sure things get going, so it is important that everyone in the home knows how to use the system safely. Write a manual and put it in the area if necessary.
How can you build your own battery bank?
That’s why I keep telling you how much I love using a backup battery box for emergency lighting in our home. This is so versatile and much cheaper to build than buying a generator. If you are looking for a power supply on demand that not only turns on the lights, but for whatever you have, it is something you want to see together.
Basically, it’s a bank full of car batteries (although I hear people use all kinds of cycles, even with deep-cycle marine), equipped with starter cables to an energy inverter that will allow you to use the power with any cable 12 V in your home. . Put it all in a sturdy container or cart with some extension cords, and it has an excellent emergency power source.
To start, put your hands on some used batteries. You can find these at used agricultural supply stores around $ 50. As long as they can charge up to around 70-80%, they will work for your purposes. The energy inverter can be a little more inclined, but it is a very useful tool to use, it is really worth the investment (remember that they also invest the energy of the solar panels!). I think we paid around $ 150 for our 12V inverter, and we used it all the time. Totally worth the money.
The idea behind this is that a disconnected battery has no charge, so you should keep it hooked to the power inverter, which will be connected to the power source of your home at all times. This will keep the batteries fresh, so when the power is cut off, they are charged and ready to go. At that time, simply unplug the inverter from the wall and start running everything you need to power it.
This is a very basic summary of how these things work, and there are approximately 50 online tutorials, each with its own methodology, which can show you how to create one. But with this more basic design, it can meet lighting needs in case of emergencies.
Long story short: get ready
When we talk about emergency preparedness, many of the stereotypes come to mind: people in foil hats listening to the radio of paranoia in the middle of the forest. But these are the very basic and very common emergencies that many of us know, but we still neglect the very basic preparations.
You do not need a ton of money or an extreme survival mentality to realize that when (not if) power goes away, light is equivalent to everything else. You can not see your child’s medicine bottle, you can go check the switch box, you can not even find the toilet paper without it. Start here and start expanding to the next thing you can improve your preparation.
Having a flashlight under the kitchen sink with 3-year batteries will not help much if there is no electricity for more than a few hours. Take the time, follow the steps, and the next time a big thunderstorm hits, rest knowing that you have this.