Today I'm going to take a look at the various options available to you for using if the power goes out, whether short term like during a severe storm, or a longer term issue like an EMP disaster.
1) Battery operated
Most houses will have various forms of torch, flashlight or other battery operated devices to allow light when the main power is off. The plus side is that we have them to hand if needed and they are generally unexpensive to buy. You can buy torches and the batteries for them in shops and supermarkets in your local area without problems.
Now lets look at how effective these are. Very, in fact, as long as you have a supply of batteries in your home and can get to the shops on a regular basis to restock. If you use rechargable batteries, you'll need to have a way to use the charger itself if the power is off. Batteries are great for a short term crisis but if the power outage was to last months, would you have enough to keep you going? I'm currently stocking up on batteries to safely store for this kind of problem as we have torches, battery operated lanterns that can be carried from room to room and battery operated decorative plastic candles.
This is a good start, but it is prudent to have another option that doesn't rely on batteries for any kind of longer term issue. When you read as many EMP books as I do, trust me you do start thinking about an option that is more reliable!
If you live in a very rural area, live on a farm or are in an area prone to extreme weather and storms, there is a good chance that you will have some kind of generator than runs on fuel. This will provide you with the opportunity to light and heat your property if the power goes down, which is the plus side. The negative to this is that they are expensive, most cannot be used indoors for safety reasons and they are noisy. None of this greatly matters in a short term crisis as things will go back to normal soon.
Now lets look at the problems with using a generator during something like an EMP or long term disaster. Firstly, the noise from a generator can be easily heard by cold neighbours, alerting them to the fact that you have power and giving you some unwanted visitors wanting help from you. Most generators have to be used outside so in an urban environment you can't maintain OPSEC with it running! Trying to run one indoors will still be noisy and could well kill you if it is not designed for that purpose due to the fumes! Then of course there is the issue of where to store all the fuel safely. I would love to have a generator as back up but we simply cannot afford to buy one, have nowhere to store it or the fuel and would be scared to use it in a real SHTF situation because of the attention it attracts. I would have one if I was in a rural situation though.
If anyone knows of a small quiet solar powered generator for indoor use, please send me a link!
This is an option I have decided to embrace. If you buy solar powered lights, basically they will charge during the day and you can use them at night for emergencies. The good thing about some of the versions of solar powered items is that you can leave them out in daylight or sun, and still get a charge of some kind to use when it gets dark. They can be used multiple times of course and a good stock of these means that some can be charging while others are in use. There are lots of options out there at all prices to suit most budgets. They are good for any disaster at home and of course handy to use on camping holidays too, so you can get use out of them even if no disaster occurs.
I'm no expert on this subject but I did buy a set of coloured solar charged camping lights. They don't seem to be available on Amazon at the moment but this is the item.
The disadvantage to solar of course is that they might take a while to charge but I think in an EMP emergency I can learn a bit of patience if it gives me a bit of precious light at night! There may be more of an issue using this option during the winter or spells of dark clouds and rain. It does remain a good back up for long term emergencies though.
Candles are something that are easy to buy and build up a stock of. They can be bought in a variety of places and the prices vary depending on how many you are buying. For safety reasons, if you have kids or dogs running about, remember to take precautions so the curtains don't end up on fire! Size wise they are pretty easy to store so a big box filled with candles can go under the stairs or in a cupboard.
I personally would ensure a supply of both batteries and candles be stored in the house. If you are able to have a generator and safely store the fuel, it is a great back up plan that allows you to keep things normal if a crisis occurs. Adding back up solar devices will then give you the ultimate choice in a longer term disaster.
What light options do you have? Do you use a different method that I haven't covered?