Put together a Lights Out Kit to help you get through the first few minutes of an emergency. This kit is an idea from “The Survival Podcast”. The idea is to have a small bag of essentials, such as a flashlight and radio, which is always in the same place so that you can walk right to it, day or night and have access to what you need. I keep the items from my kit by my bed.

Here are the items in my Lights Out Kit.
• Flashlight
• Cell Phone
• AM/FM/Weather Radio
• Firearm and Ammo
• Pair of Socks
• Pair of Shoes
• Clothing

If it is Winter
• Warm Coat and gloves

Flashlight – There is a high probably that it will be dark during some part of your service outage. Where I live, during the winter it gets dark as early as 5:30 pm and stays dark until 7:30 am. Even if it is not an absolute survival necessity to have light during a service outage, I believe it is almost a necessity. It will allow you to move around safely and find the items you need. It becomes more of a necessity if you have young children who want to move around when it is dark.

The least expensive solution is a box of Tea Candles from the Dollar store. They have a wide base and are short so they won’t tip over easily. The main problem with candles is that they have an open flame and you must be careful and not leave them unattended. They can’t be moved quickly and you need matches or a lighter to light them.

My preference is a flashlight. Try to find one that is an LED. The bulb and batteries last longer and it can take more impact (in case it is dropped) than a regular flashlight. To be honest, it is hard to find a decent LED flashlight that won’t break in the first week or that doesn’t blow through a set of batteries in less than two hours for under $10.

When you buy a flashlight there is a trade-off between Brightness and Battery-Life. The brighter the light, the shorter the time your batteries will last. I like a flashlight that is around 10-15 lumens. This is bright enough to get around or use as a reading light but will maximize battery life. A step up from the basic light is one that has several modes. A low mode with 10-15 lumens and a high mode with around 100 lumens. A multiple mode flashlight will be more expensive. Here are my favorite flashlights:

Fenix E01 Compact LED Flashlight – This is my personal low cost favorite ($13 at this writing.) It has a 10 lumen brightness and a 21 hour run time on 1 AAA battery. The E01is barely larger than a AAA battery.

Gerber Infinity Ultra LED Task Light – Another personal favorite. It has 8 lumens brightness and up to 100 hour of runtime on 1 AA battery. The brightness remains at 8 lumens for the first 25 hours and then slowly diminishes. Cost is around $16 at this writing.

Fenix LD10 or LD12 6 level LED Flashlight – Let me begin by saying this is not a low cost flashlight but for what it does, I believe it is a great value. It uses 1 AA battery and has 6 output levels. 9 lumens (34 hour run time), 47 lumens (6 hour run time), 94 lumens (2.2 hour run time), 120 lumens (1.5 hour run time), SOS and Strobe mode. The price at this writing is about $50. You get it all with this flashlight. It is a long running, low lumen work light and a very bright torch all in one flashlight.

Fenix LD20 or LD22 6 level LED Flashlight – Big brother of the LD10. It uses 2 AA batteries and has 6 output levels. 9 lumens (71 hour run time), 50 lumens (13 hour run time), 105 lumens (5 hour run time), 205 lumens (2 hour run time), SOS and Strobe mode. It costs only $5 more than the LD10. You get more power, more runtime but it is larger so you give up a little bit in compact size.

Batteries – One set of batteries will not last for 30 days. Store extra batteries for whatever flashlight you have. How many extra batteries should you store? Figure that you will only need to use the flashlight during the dark hours. Most likely you will only need to run the flashlight 5 hours each day or 150 total hours since you will be asleep during some of the night hours.

If you choose the Fenix E01, it has a 21 hour run time so you would need somewhere between 10-12 AAA batteries depending how long you ran the flashlight. If you choose the Fenix LD10 with a 34 hour run time, you would need between 7 – 8 AA batteries. Remember this is per flashlight.

Buy good quality alkaline batteries. Amazon has 20 AA or AAA Duracell Copper Top batteries for $11.60. Costco has good deals on Duracell multi-packs $17 for 40 AAs. Store your batteries in the refrigerator they will last for years.

You might want to add a flashlight that doesn’t require batteries. I like the LED flashlights that have a hand pressing dynamo in the flashlight handle. You charge it by repeatedly squeezing the dynamo. They create about 10 – 15 lumens of light. They run around $3 – $4. They are not built for extreme use.

Cell Phone – In a real emergency you’d want to know what is going on as soon as possible. You’d first try your cell phone; however, in our scenario there is no signal. As an aside, in Haiti, cell phones were back up in 3 days, in Katrina cell phones were out for at least a week and in some places over a month.

Cell phones are great during emergencies. I suggest having one even if it is only for emergencies. I like “Smart Phones” if you can afford them. They have many apps and features that are useful in an emergency or evacuation. Keep your cell phone fully charged or have an extra battery. Your cell phone will still work in all but the most severe emergencies. Cell phone service is one of the services that will be a priority to be restored.

AM/FM/Weather Radio – Have a battery or crank powered radio in your Lights Out Kit. If you go battery powered, get one that runs on the same AA or AAA batteries that your flashlight uses. Almost all radio and television stations have backup generators. Additionally, there are several really powerful AM stations in the US. At night some of these stations can be tuned-in from over a thousand miles away. Scan your AM Band, you’ll find someone broadcasting emergency information.

There are some real inexpensive radios on the market but most are not very good but here are two exceptions.

First, Panasonic RF-P50 Pocket AM/FM. Runs on 2 AA batteries and has a 2.25 inch speaker. It is 2.75 x 4.62 x 1.16 inches. Cost is $10

Second is Sony ICF-S10MK2 AM/FM Portable Radio. Runs on 2 AA batteries and has a 2.25 inch speaker. It is 2.9 x 1.2 x 4.8 inches. Battery Life: AM: 45 hours, FM: 40 hours. Cost is around $12. Try your local Kmart, Wal-Mart, or Walgreens.

Decent radios with Weather Channels (NOAA channels) start at around $35. If you live in areas that have tornados or hurricanes, the weather channels can give you weather watch and warning information.

Firearms and Ammo – I keep my firearm and an extra mag on the nightstand ready to go in case of any emergency. I’ll cover Firearms and Ammo on a shoestring later.

Socks and Shoes – I keep a pair of socks and shoes next to my bed. If the wind, a fallen tree, or anything else breaks a window, I don’t want to be walking around in bare feet. Don’t buy anything new. Just use what you already have.

Clothing – Not much needs to be said about having clothing nearby to put on if you have to get up in a hurry and make an inside and outside house inspection. Don’t buy anything new. Just use what you already have.

Winter Coat and Gloves – When it’s cold, you need to be able to keep warm if you go outside in a hurry. Keep a warm coat and gloves close by for emergencies. Again don’t buy anything new. Just use what you already have. Extend the usefulness of an older coat and pair of gloves by using them for your “Lights Out Kit”?

Ed Rogers
Copyright “Keep It Simple” 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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