Monday, November 8, 2010

Let There Be Light

Although food storage is my first love, I do realize that there are many more aspects to prepping. It's just hard for me to focus on them when they are so far out of my comfort zone. Alternative power systems and firearms? I just don't have the knowledge base for preps in those areas, so I'm putting those off for now.

One area I do feel comfortable making some decisions in is lighting. If the electricity goes out, it is important to have a backup form of lighting. For one thing, it's a safety issue. You don't want to be stumbling around in the dark. For another, it can be a morale issue. Imagine being trapped inside your house during a blizzard or ice storm. The electricity goes off and your family huddles together for warmth. Darkness comes early but thankfully you have an old lamp and plenty of lamp oil. Suddenly the situation doesn't seem so scary. The "Blizzard of '10" may even become a cherished family memory.

First of all, everyone should have a supply of flashlights. You really cannot have too many of these. We have one by our bed, in our BOBs, in our vehicle kits, storm shelter, garage, and probably some other places I've forgotten.

You also need to have a large supply of batteries. We buy bulk packages of batteries from my favorite store, Sam's Club, and keep them organized by size.

We also have a couple of LED wind-up flashlights. No batteries needed for these.

Dusty but still functional
If you were in long term power down situation, you would really want to have some additional lighting options. A flashlight isn't so great to read, play a board game, cook, or eat by. For this, we're relying on an old solution - the oil lamp.

I already had an antique table lamp. Oil lamps like these can be picked up very cheaply in antique stores. My mother owns an antique store in our area and she actually doesn't stock these kinds of oil lamps. There is too great of a supply out there, so they don't sell very well. If you can't find a vintage one, you can buy new ones from Lehman's. If you don't have a copy of Lehman's catalog, be sure and order one. Lehman's Non-Electric Catalog is chock full of goodies for preppers and other self-sufficient types.

Who is the maid ? She should be fired!

I also already had this Dietz lantern which I did purchase at my mom's antique store. I'll admit it - I bought it a few years ago because I thought it was cute. Recently it crossed my mind that I should take a closer look at it and see if it is still functional. It needs a bit of cleaning - ok, maybe a lot - and a new wick and it should be ready to go. My Dietz "Little Giant" lantern was made sometime between the 1920s and 1950s and holds enough fuel to burn continuously for 70 hours. Again, this is something you can find cheaply at an auction or antique store (mine was $10 before the "family discount") or buy new from Lehman's.

Obviously when you have an oil lamp, you need to have oil to burn in it. There are three basic fuels to choose from:

1) Liquid Paraffin - This easy to find in places like Wal-Mart this time of year. Basically, it's a liquid candle. The good thing about it is that it doesn't smell or smoke when it burns.  Some people think it can clog the large, flat wicks that most oil lamps have. My mom has burned this stuff in her oil lamps for years and not had any problems, though.

2) Kerosene - Cheap and it burns well. Most oil lamps/lanterns will work well with it. It is a bit smelly when it burns.

3) KleanHeat - Think of this as a cross between options one and two. It doesn't smell or smoke and it won't clog your wick. You can use it in a wide variety of lamps and lanterns.

I went ahead and decided to go with option three, KleanHeat. I felt that it would be the best item to store since it was so versatile. You can buy KleanHeat here.

I also stocked up on lamp wicks. Check what size wick your lamp/s take before you buy!

When the lights go out, we'll be ready. What have you stocked up on for your lighting needs?


  1. We picked up a couple of boxes of solar lights (on clearance). Charge them up during the day, they give off light nearly all night. Granted, it's not super bright, but it's better than nothing when the lights go out.

  2. That's a good idea and especially good if you have little children - no fire hazard!