Monday, January 5, 2009

Do You Know Where Your Flashlight Is?

Severe storms can make power outages a serious problem, especially on those days when it is almost as dark mid-day as at night. That’s when those creatures in thunder heads rumble and roar, and “dark” rules.

If you have never experienced a thunder and lightening storm that creates an atmosphere that you know must be similar to what the end of the world will be like, you haven’t really experienced a THUNDER STORM! The sky is dark, and then it gets darker. You check your watch, and sure enough it is still supposed to be early afternoon. You can smell the rain in the air. The rumbles seem to be getting closer – and yes it is getting darker, and darker. The cracks of lightening are getting closer and more ominous with every bolt. The wind begins to show its strength, and the trees suddenly recognize who will win the war of howling fierceness. And it continues to get darker – with billowing thunderheads, lightening and wind. Then, it really hits – the crackle and spitting of the lightening bolts, the shaking of the earth, while the tremendous crashes and booms catch up before you can count, “one-one hundred, two-one hundred.”

Suddenly, you realize it is as dark inside as it is outside – and you have to deal with it! If you close the blinds to “keep the lightening out,” it’s darker still. As you try to turn on the lights you realize that Mother Nature is throwing a temper tantrum and the switch no loner functions. There is no light emanating from those no longer reliable light bulbs. “Dark” rules inside as well.

Flashlight? The old stand-by the flashlight, you know you have one somewhere. Now where could that “somewhere” be? You say you can’t find it in the dark? If only you AND the kids weren’t afraid of thunder and lightening and the dark at the same time, things might be better.

Storms and darkness can be frightening for anyone, but as far as the fear factor goes, children are the most likely to need security. But during a crisis security for adults goes out the window as well. Sudden, total darkness tends to increase insecurity for all of us.

Since it is the season for severe storms and the accompanying darkness, let’s consider a few positive ideas to deal with it before the need arises. Acknowledge that the darkness you have to deal with may last longer than just an evening or so. This means that the time frame required might include what would normally be considered “daylight.” Take into consideration where you live and the kinds of storms that invade your local area. If daylight can be ruled by “dark” that could mean the light source you need to have on hand may need to be more than just a single flashlight.

However, for this blog let’s take a few minutes to discuss the importance of “that old standby, the flashlight.” Not just one, but some; yes every household should have more than one flashlight!

It is a good idea to make sure each member of your household has their own flashlight, with charged batteries. A standard flashlight with new batteries and bulb will yield about seven (7) hours of light.

It is also a smart plan to have flashlights in all of the major rooms of your home. They need to be secured so that shaking or severe storms don’t dislodge them, causing them to be lost when they are needed the most. This is one of those areas where if you think you know what needs be done and already have a flashlight or two in the house, you may need to think again. Making sure every person in your household has the security of reliable light during an emergency may put a different perspective on your situation; especially if you discover those flashlights that you are relying on have been in use for a while. If that is the case, they may not last long enough to provide much needed light as you try to deal with unexpected darkness, or longer than expected darkness.

Be sure that everyone knows where the flashlights are and can easily find them. One idea to improve on that security just mentioned, is while the light switch is still working have a practice session for finding flashlights in the dark. Explain where they are in each room, including individual bedrooms, bathrooms, halls, etc. Take the time to “walk through” finding the flashlights in each area – in the dark. (Note: If the multiple flashlight idea is new to your household, this can make a wonderful Family Home Evening activity – no matter the ages of those in the group.) After placing the flashlights, calendar consistent updating and changing of the batteries, making sure they are always working. Pay particular attention to those who may have physical needs and keep the flashlights within easy, but perhaps not usual, reach.

Board games, coloring books, or even a good book can make dark hours a little brighter if there are spare batteries for the flashlights. One way to find those “spare batteries” is to place those that are taken out of flashlights at the calendared “battery change time” in a box. Label the box “used, but not dead,” so that you don’t rely on those batteries for long-term light. For safety, place a piece of cellophane tape or masking tape over the ends to prevent contact, insuring that the ends cannot touch. If not a current can be created and a fire could start. (Remember, in a power outage there is no computer, no Internet, no chat rooms, no games!)

Note: Cyalume or bendable light sticks should not be considered a reusable light source or a particularly bright light source. Light stick head bands and bracelets don't count as a light source either.

Preparedness Principles has chapters to help you deal with darkness.

Return to the Neighborhood

And while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, our newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.Neighborhood Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.