The first drilldown in my post series on the proper contents of a survival armory will address emergency lights. If you haven’t read it, click here for the summary post. Read it and come back for the rest! Great, glad you’re back. Let’s talk about lights!
Like I said in my summary post, you really need to have a broad variety of emergency lighting in your stash. While there is something to be said for general use lighting solutions there are a few core tasks that require specialized gear.
Your General Use Lighting Stash
Ideally you’ll have a few different stash locations for general use lights. You’ll want to have some flashlights and maybe a few candles located in a couple easily accessed locations around the house. You’ll be glad that you did this if the power goes out instead of stumbling down two flights of stairs in the pitch black looking for that flashlight that little Johnny was playing with the other day.
I recommend having one central stash that has a camping style LED lantern, a couple of flashlights, and a number of long burning candles with matches or lighters stored safely nearby. I usually put this stash in the kitchen. I would also suggest having several stashes throughout the house that have two or three small (think 2x AA or D cell) flashlights that can be used to safely get at your central stash.
Rudy’s Tip: These flashlights should be el-cheapo things. I bought a bunch of twin-pack 2xD-Cell lights at the local box store for about $5 per twin pack. You don’t need anything fancy here since you aren’t going to be rappelling down a building or anything with the light.
You should consider having a flashlight for every member of the family. It’s sounds like overkill but since you’re buying cheap you won’t spend too much and it makes the kids feel MUCH more secure when the lights go out. If you’ve ever dealt with a panicked kid when the power is out and nobody can see then you’ll probably want to have two flashlights per child to avoid ever going through that again!
Your Armory Lantern
Lanterns are great because they light up an area nicely. You can set it on the table or hang it off a hook and you get a good bit of area light. You should already have one in your general use stash but I recommend having one in your armory too for redundancy. I recommend buying the same model to keep it easy.
Make sure you buy battery powered lanterns, preferably with LED based bulbs. Avoid any type of oil lantern for emergency usage. The last thing you need to be worrying about is the risk of fire. And don’t forget replacement bulbs just in case!
Your Armory Spotlight
You must have a good high powered spotlight in your armory. I’m talking about the bright stuff here. These lights will throw a beam a long way and are particularly useful for looking around outside whether you’re looking out a window to gauge whether it’s safe or if you’re already outside and you’re looking around. And since they are so darn bright you can use them to temporarily blind an assailant or intruder.
When buying a spotlight I recommend buying a rechargeable hand held unit. Some of them come with a stand too, which is pretty neat. You’re looking for at LEAST 3 million candlepower, I would personally prefer 7-10 million. As with everything I recommend, you should buy at least two and stock spare bulbs.
Your Armory Flashlight
You need some higher quality flashlights in your armory. You should always have one on your person, and have several on the shelf just in case. These are intended for daily carry and use as well as for self and home defense situations and should be a higher quality, ideally with a metal case. This flashlight is just like your pocket knife. Always with you, period.
This is where you might want to spend a bit more money. I don’t recommend going out and spending $100 on a flashlight, you can get fantastic lights for less than $30 a pop, even as low as $15. You’re looking for smaller handheld LED flashlights, powered by 2 AA or 3 AAA batteries. I prefer the kind that have a push button switch at the base to turn them on and off. Avoid the twisty style on/off mechanism like the plague. You should have one flashlight for every adult and teenager and at least four spares. I don’t need to tell you about spare bulbs, do I?
Rudy’s Tip: I recommend against mounting your flashlight on your weapon. I know there’s quite a few people out there that like to do that. I don’t like it for two main reasons:
First, you need a more expensive and robust light that can take the shock and forces involved in firing a weapon. That type of light is expensive and more prone to shock related failures.
Second, the whole purpose of a flashlight in a home or self defense situation is to identify the target and make sure you’re not being spooked by the neighbors dog Muffy or something. If your light is mounted to your weapon then in order to identify your target you’re pointing the weapon at that target. Huge safety risk and not one I’m willing to take.
Your Armory Utility Light
You need a few hands free type lights for general use. For this type of application there’s nothing better than a headlamp, whether it attaches to the brim of a hat or it has its own dedicated headband. They both have their tradeoffs.
If you get the hat clip style headlamp, they’re easy to use, easy to attach, and are pretty bright. They shine at whatever you’re looking at for the most part and are overall a great product. They usually have five LED lamps that throw a reasonably broad arc.
Headband mounted lamps are heavier, a bit more awkward to wear – especially if you have a hat on! On the flip side, you can usually rotate them to change where they’re pointing so you’re not limited to light only where you’re looking. Many of these lamps can be focused to provide flood lighting or spot lighting as well.
I recommend you have a couple of each. They have different uses and one might be better than the other for a given task. A simple rule of thumb if you can’t decide is to have one of each for each adult, and then add a few for spares. Again, might be overkill but it’s better to have too many than not enough.
Rudy’s Tip: Add some smaller keyring style flashlights that take a single AAA battery to your armory! Have one on every keyring and a few on the shelf. You never know when it will come in handy!
Wrapping it all up
I’m not the gear junky type of guy who recommends the best and the most expensive product out there. I think that there is tremendous value to be had out there and it’s better to have three cheaper lights than one expensive one. Even if a cheaper one fails, you still have two left!
Rudy’s Final Tip: I like to buy identical models in a given category. The same model lantern, the same model spotlight, etc. This lets me stock one kind of replacement bulb and I don’t have to worry about dealing with different kinds of bulbs. Makes life so much easier…
Thanks for reading … let me know in the comments if you have any favorite lights you’d like to recommend to the rest of the readers!