Ten Things You Should Never Leave Home Without: #2: A Flashlight

What is it: A flashlight (or torch) is a small, portable electric lamp powered by one or more batteries. For this particular list, I advocate carrying a small LED key chain flashlight. A slightly larger flashlight is appropriate for your go-bag, household emergency kit, and car, but on a daily basis, even a marginally larger “pocket”-sized flashlight may be too big to be convenient and harder to make habitual.

Photon II Micro-LightPersonally, I am partial to LRI’s (Laughing Rabbing Inc.) Photon II Micro-Light.  They cost about $10 and are each about the size of a quarter and weigh only 6.3 grams (less than ¼ of an ounce). They come in 10 different light beam colors for different purposes; the standard white beam is most useful for its general usefulness and luminosity. I also recommend a green or red beam for use at night if you have occasion to find it is desirable to preserve your night vision. They come with a long-lasting, replaceable lithium battery that provides at least 12 hours of light (and much more for some useful beam colors such as red).

The new Photon Freedom Micro-Light comes in a variety of fashionable casing covers colors, and has instant on-off, brightness control, and has three levels of strobe (slow beacon, medium beacon, fast flash) and an automatic S-O-S mode; and as with the Photon II, you can manually use the light with a signaling Morse code mode. I have ordered a few of these and expect to like them even more than the Photon II.

LRI Photon Micro-Lights are used by NASA astronauts, the US Secret Service, the US Military, law enforcement and search and rescue teams. Read some great testimonials on the emergency and everyday utility of the Photon Micro-Light and for other articles, reviews and other information about their whole product line, visit the Laughing Rabbit Inc. website.

I was first introduced to Photon Micro-Lights prior to the first Strong Angel exercise on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2000, where we evaluated them as part of a suite of new technologies being tested for their utility in sustainable settlements for humanitarian disasters – such as refugee camps (and for refugee camp workers). At the time, they were new and unproven technology – no one had ever heard of LED lights before. But their durability and longevity of battery life and luminosity was tested and proven at the exercise and they have been a part of my emergency kit ever since.

<Photon II Micro-Light on Key chainGet a bunch of them. Give one to each member of your family. Attach one to everyone’s main key chain so they will always have it with them. You can put another one into your wallet or purse, or briefcase or backpack that you usually carry. Most newer bags have rings or hooks intended to attach a set of keys to – this is the perfect spot to attach one of these LED flashlights. Even attach one to your regular coat as a zipper pull. Personally, I love flashlights and believe that you can never have enough.

Utility on a Daily Basis: I do use a flashlight on a regular if not daily basis. The house we are currently staying in does not have an external light and I often use the flashlight to find the keyhole to lock and unlock the door. Key chain lights were originally marketed so one could find where to put a car’s ignition key into. Looking for a lost remote under or behind a couch? Drop something under the table at a dimly lit restaurant? Under your desk at work? Today, I used my key chain flashlight to inspect the condition of a beam in our house that we are renovating. Like several other items on this list, I guarantee that once carrying a flashlight becomes habitual, you will find good opportunities to use it regularly and you will be glad that you have it with you. And these lights are so small and light that it will never be an inconvenience to have one with you.

Yes that is a whistlePersonal Report – Is Mark Living Prepared? Yes, I can report that personally, I carry two of these lights with me on a daily basis – one with a white beam on a chain around my neck (more on that in a later posting) – and one with a green beam attached to my key chain with my house keys. As I don’t go out without my keys, a flashlight is always with me. It is practice and it can easily be yours as well.

Criticality after a disaster: There is nothing more useful in the aftermath of a disaster than a flashlight. Power and lights will go out following a major disaster – whether a natural disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, flood, ice storm, or tornado – or a man made disaster, such as a fire, terrorist attack, civil conflict, war, or yes, a power failure. I guarantee it. In fact, the lights going out may be your first indication that something is wrong.

In more personal or local disasters, such as a car or other vehicular accident, you may find yourself in the dark, in a ditch, looking for a safe way out. You may run out of gas or your car may break down and you find that you have to walk along a dark road or highway. You could be in the subway underground which breaks down and you have to walk to the next station. You may have to walk down 50 or more flights of stairs to exit a skyscraper with the lights out. You are going to be glad to have a light with you for visibility and safety.

These small key chain LED flashlights are bright and can be seen from over a mile away. They are useful as signal lights to let someone know where you are and that you need help. In the open , they should be visible to search and rescue aircraft; or by urban search and rescue teams looking for survivors in collapsed buildings.

You never know how dark it is without lights until they all go out. I make it a practice to always have a flashlight easily accessible in the house so if the lights go out, I can find it easily in the dark. A few years ago, New York City and most of the northeast suffered a major power failure that lasted for a couple of days in some places. At the time, our family was living in an 8th floor apartment with an unobstructed southern view of New York harbor. This apartment got tons of ambient artificial light from streetlights, other buildings, and especially the docks on the Brooklyn, Staten Island and even New Jersey waterfront. There was so much artificial light pouring in through the windows that you could sit up and read in bed at night without the use of any lamps at all. But during the blackout, it got dark; so dark you could not see. And it took a while for us to find a flashlight and some candles. We weren’t prepared for how dark it would be without any lights on, and never having to learn our way around the apartment in the dark, or in very low light conditions, it was a struggle for us.

While this is more an object lesson for why you should have a flashlight easily accessible in the home (which you should!), what I wanted to emphasize here is that we are all used to there being a lot of ambient artificial light – especially in urban environments. We go out all the time at night, in the dark, without needing a flashlight to see. There are streetlights, houselights, store lights, security lights, lit signs, etc. But when the power goes out, all these lights go out as well.

And again, your go-bag will not be with you. When disaster strikes and you are not at home and you can’t get home, you are caught out without your go-bag. So you want to have a flashlight with you wherever you are. It may also help you get into your darkened house to retrieve your go-bag from your darkened closet.

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The Living Prepared Scorecard:  LED Key Chain Flashlight

    Easily Carried: YESNot too heavy: YES

    Practical Purpose on a Daily basis: YES

    Critical Purpose when Disaster Strikes: YES

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So, carry a flashlight with you. If you do, you will be Living Prepared™.

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2 Responses

  1. Always have 2 good lights with you, one in car, other on you. Batts. too. This day and age, with bad weather, quakes, wars, etc you cant afford NOT to have a few good lights. Mix LED and reg. lights in your arsenal and invest in chargeable batteries.

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