In inclement weather, your power is likely to go out at any given time. It could be off for 2 minutes, 2 days, or even 2 weeks in extreme cases. Are you ready?
Do you have enough stuff gathered in one location for when the power goes off at your house? Have you even thought about what all you’d need?
When most people hear the term “Lights Out Kit”, all they think about is the light aspect. However, if your lights are out, chances are it’s because the power is completely out — in which case, seeing in the dark isn’t the only thing you need to be concerned with.
This list of items you need to compile for an emergency no-power situation will help you figure out what you have, and what you still need to get together. Power outages happen in every season at any time, so prepare yourself now!
1 – Flashlights
The first thing I reach for when the power goes out is is a flashlight. You don’t need an expensive $100 Bushnell Rubicon (although at 1080 lumens, you could certainly turn night into day) — any flashlight will do.
Our kit includes:
These are what we’ve had for years, and they’re only 65 lumens, so we’re planning to replace them with these 520 lumen rechargeable Stanley LED FatMax Spotlights. Those bad boys even work under water!
Mini Cree lights – Cree is actually a manufacturer of LEDs, so some of the mini flashlights you see on the internet may be just as good, but not actually be “Cree” lights. No matter either way, really. One’s as good as another. We’ve got a couple of these — one by Revtronic and one by Maketheone. These little lights are actually the perfect size for kids, and it will help them chase away and fear of the dark.
Dollar Store flashlights – We have one of the Dollar Store flashlights (that we’ve collected through the years) in every room so no matter where we are when the lights go out, we’re ready to grab a light and get to work.
We have some other miscellaneous flashlights around the house, too, including a MagLite in the garage and a Dorcy rechargeable flashlight. The rechargeable flashlight stays plugged in to the wall outlet, and if the power ever goes out, the light flashes so you can find it in the dark. Very convenient!
2 – Headlamps
Yes, technically these are flashlights, but they’re more useful in some cases. If you’re having to work in the dark, but keep moving, a headlamp is better than a handheld flashlight. You can see what you’re doing and still have both hands free to work.
We only have one headlamp in our kit. It’s the Divine LEDs headlamp that I reviewed a while back — read that review here. We’ll probably add at least one more to our kit in the near future (quite possibly one of these Foxelli models).
3 – Batteries
You can have all the flashlights you want, but if you don’t have a ready supply of extra batteries they won’t do you a bit of good. You should have at least 2 replacement sets for each flashlight you have (i.e., if you have 4 flashlights that take 2 AAs each, you should have 16 spare AA batteries).
This is another area where rechargeables may be a good option. EBL makes a good charging station that does all the common battery sizes — AAA, AA, C, D, and 9V. This is option is probably more expensive initially, but it’s way cheaper in the long run, and much more self-sustainable. Make sure you’re using rechargeable batteries, though — you should never attempt to recharge a normal battery.
4 – Candles
You can never have too many candles. They’re great to use as ambient lighting, and there are many types to be bought. You can get packs of long burning emergency candles, tea light candles, and even those big 3-wick scented candles. Some burn down faster than others, but that’s no problem.
When those candles are all-but-gone, we melt them all up together in a small pot. Then we pour that wax up with a new wick (you can use regular cotton twine for wicks) into some of our candle holders, and we’ve got new candles!
In fact, we have wax warmers (similar to this one) that help the house smell good, but eventually the smell is gone from the wax. We often add that wax to the candle remnants when making new candles.
5 – Oil Lamps
Sometimes I like to turn off the electronic devices (including the lights) and read by the light of an oil lamp (also called a “hurricane lamp” or a “chamber lamp”). They have a very “old world” feel to them that always warms my soul.
When I was kid, this was what we used when the power went out. We had a couple in the living room and one in each bedroom. They were pretty much out for decoration, so when the lights went out, they were easy to find and light.
6 – Solar Lanterns
If you’re looking for something little more modern than candles and oil lamps, there’s a wide variety of solar lanterns on the market. While candles are fine, solar lanterns are a little more “renewable” source of lighting.
We have the MPOWERD Luci — a solar chargeable inflatable lantern that can light up an entire room for hours on a single charge. There are other similar solar charged lanterns like the OldShark, the LuminAID PackLite, and the Etekcity Camping Lantern that would also work great.
Solar lanterns with LED lights will last you a lifetime, and you can actually use them on a daily basis in place of lamps around your house to save on your power bill!
If you have solar landscape lights in your yard, why not bring them in to use as ambient lighting, too? They’re already charged, and they’ll be putting off light, anyway. Just bring them inside and use them to light a room or two. You could even combine one with a Mason jar to create a neat little homemade solar lantern.
7 – Solar Chargers
Lots of people today don’t have landline-based phones in their houses. They rely on cellular devices as their sole form of telephone communication.
SPOILER ALERT: when the power is out, you can’t plug your phone into the wall to charge it.
Solar chargers are definitely the way to go here. You don’t necessarily have to be fully grid-down ready with massive solar panels on your roof (but that’s a goal of mine). As long as you have a few solar charging devices, you’re bound to be alright.
The first thing I would recommend is a simple phone charger. We have this Innoo Tech charger, and it’s tough! You can actually charge two devices at once from it because it has two USB ports. It’s also got a small LED light on it that you can use as an emergency flashlight in a pinch.
I’ve also been thinking about setting up some sort of 12v battery on a portable solar panel with a power inverter as a little bit of backup power. (Note: At the time I’m writing this, I’m not very experienced with solar setups, so if you’re reading this, and you are, I’d love to hear some alternative solutions here.)
8 – Battery Powered Fans
A good place to start is by reading my article 12 Tips to Stay Cool If Your A/C Goes Out. However, if your power is out, you’re going to have troubles with the fan part… unless you’ve got some solar power setup as we discussed in #7 above, or you’re using battery powered fans.
We keep a couple of small battery operated fans around because our little girl doesn’t tolerate heat very well, so it is imperative she stays cool. These fans (along with some of those “12 Tips”) work like a charm. They’re a welcome addition to our lights out kit.
9 – Emergency Radio
Assuming the reason your power is out is due to some sort of storm or other emergency based reason, you’ll need to keep track of what’s going on. You won’t have the constant inflow of information from the internet and television, either.
A good emergency radio is very cheap and readily available. I have one of the iRonsnow emergency radios. It has AM/FM and Weather Band. It’s solar and hand-crank powered, there’s an LED flashlight on it, and it will actually charge your cell phone! Glad I’ve got it in my lights out kit!
I’ve had my iRonsnow out in the woods with me listening to the radio. I can have it blasting out the tunes for about 3 hours straight on a full charge.
10 – Boredom Busters
Of course, you can run your solar radio, but you can only do that for short periods at a time. If you’ve got kids, especially, you’ll need to figure out something to put in your lights out kit that will keep them from climbing the walls with boredom.
Personally, I recommend reading. Good books can take your mind off the issues around you for a while, and if you’re reading something instructional, you might actually learn something new. A few of my personal favorites are:
- Bushcraft 101 (Dave Canterbury)
- Build the Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills (Creek Stewart)
- Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival (Angela Paskett)
- Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Angela England)
We also like to play cards and board games (“bored” games… lol) when there’s nothing else to do. Uno and Phase 10 are our favorite card games, and who doesn’t love a good game of Monopoly, right?
The kit doesn’t have to be an actual “kit”
Of course, you don’t have to keep your lights out kit all in one container, as long as you have everything you need and know exactly where to locate it. However, we’re starting to compile a couple of everything (except the oil lamps) in a Sterilite container just in case the other stuff “accidentally goes missing” for one reason or another. (Have I told you lately how much we love Sterilite containers? Even our dog loves them!)
We also have a couple of cases specifically for our batteries so they don’t go dead rolling around in a drawer. (Plus, we know exactly what we have at any given time just by glancing.)
What’s in your Lights Out Kit?
Have I missed anything? Surely some of the things I have on my list are things you may not care about adding to your list, but you might have something on your list that I would like to add to mine. My friend Dan over at Suburban Steading has an article with a great view on this subject, too.