There are many natural disasters and emergency situations where sources of light can become important tools for your survival and emotional well-being. That is why your Go-Bag should be equipped with more than one source of light.
After a natural disaster or accident, you will need light to perform the tasks that can help you survive, to search for others, and to signal for help and attract attention if you are in need of rescue.
LED flashlights to provide a lot of light, and consume very little power, and you should have at least a battery-operated one, and a hand cranked one as part of your Go Bag. A lamp that can be worn on your head can be useful to allow you to have your hands free when building shelters, fires, etc.
10 Essential Sources of Light for Survival Situations
It should come as no surprise, of course, that the first light source on the list is the good old reliable flashlight or “torch” for my UK friends. Simply put, a flashlight is one of your best bets for usable light when you’re in a tricky situation. From tiny pocket-sized lights to big baton-style flashlights, you’ll have a beam as long as the batteries last. Select lights with a rugged design and waterproof housing. Include at least one that is of the “crank style” and you will have a light that does not depend on batteries.
In addition to a variety of flashlights, your pack should include a headlamp, which is essential in situations where you need light as well as your hands free.
- Light Sticks
Light Sticks also known as “chem lights” are a fabulous light source and an essential go bag item with multiple uses, and advantages over other light sources. They can be used underwater, they are the only light source that will still work after an EMP blast from a nuclear device, they can be used to light your way, or signal for help, and should your circumstances demand it, you can even slit one open and use droplets of the luminescent chemical to leave a light trail!
- Oil Lanterns
Not a recommended item for a go bag, but you should include a few old-timey oil lanterns, or “Hurricane Lanterns” in your shelter-in-place kits. While they do present a fire hazard and therefore need to be used with caution, they shine brightly and can last a very long time.
- Battery Lanterns
There are many battery operated lanterns available today, most with LEDs that can provide very bright light on limited battery power, some even run on AA batteries which are inexpensive and plentiful in times of hurricanes or other natural disasters, when D-cells and C-cells go flying off of the shelves. They come in a variety of sizes as well, so you can get some of the bigger ones for your “shelter in place” kits, and some smaller ones to put in your go bag.
- Solar Lights
These could be your little solar walkway lights, repurposed as home lighting after a power outage, or it could be a dedicated solar powered lighting source. Either way, these lights store up the sun’s power during the day, and return it to you again at night.
While you are unlike to run into any Ogres or Werewolves out there, a good old fashioned torch can still be an essential light source. If for some reason, you do not have any of the above sources with you, or they all have failed, simply wrap some rags (or even toilet paper) around one end of a green wood stick so that it looks like a giant Q-tip. Soak the head in cooking oil (or any other oil, or flammable liquid) and light it up as a torch. Of course handle with care, as this is an extreme fire hazard.
One More Note About Light and Survival
For the most part, light is a useful thing both to help you see and work through the night. Light provides comfort, and gives you the ability to signal for help. However, keep one thing in mind when using your lights in a survival situation. Light can also attract unwanted attention if you are forced to shelter in a high-risk area, or area of turmoil or conflict. If you are using a light to read a map or to provide light for other survival activities at night, you can minimize the risk of exposure by using your poncho, jacket, or tarp to cover the light. In addition, some flashlights have a red light, or a red filter to give the output a softer light that does not attract as much attention, and also will help you to preserve your night vision.