When the power goes out, you need ways to light your space that do not plug into a power outlet.
Unless you’re in the footprint of the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPSs) that California utility companies impose periodically to prevent fires (don’t get me started), your last encounter with producing light without an electrical outlet may have been on a long-ago camping trip
It probably involved a flashlight heavy with D batteries. Perhaps there was a Coleman lantern that burned propane. That flashlight was pretty useless when you needed to be doing something with both hands, like cooking, setting up your tent, or pretty much anything else.
Before the end of the camping trip, the batteries were almost always dead. Perhaps your bulb had burned out. Or you found that the batteries you had left in the flashlight since last year had expired and corroded, damaging your flashlight.
Fortunately, things in the portable lighting world have gotten So. Much. Better. Here are three innovations that will make getting through a blackout so much easier than it used to be.
LEDs: Flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps come with LED lights now. They require vastly less energy than incandescent bulbs to produce brighter and better-focused light, so they need far less battery power to run. Goodbye heavy D batteries. Most LED appliances come with multiple bulbs, each lasting about 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb, so the chances of all your bulbs burning out during a power interruption are minimal.
Tiny solar panels: It’s easy now to find flashlights and lanterns with solar panels just a few inches wide and long. These can recharge the device’s lithium batteries to ensure your device will have power almost indefinitely.
Lithium batteries: These coin-shaped batteries last 8 to 10 times longer than alkaline batteries, are exceptionally lightweight, and perform in extreme temperatures. These lighter, more powerful batteries mean lighting devices can be far lighter and last all the way through a power shutoff.
These innovations have led to an array of products to ensure that you can get through a power outage with enough illumination for your needs:
- Handheld flashlights with small solar panels. Face the panels toward the sun during the day so you have recharged batteries when it gets dark. The best models run on both solar power and lithium batteries so you can get both the rechargability of the solar and the reliability of batteries.
- Lightweight headlamps that enable you to focus bright light where you need it, hands-free. Most have multiple modes, like red lights to preserve night vision and flashing lights to attract the eye of emergency responders.
- Solar lanterns for area lighting. These are lightweight, rechargeable, inexpensive, versatile, and eliminate the need for fossil fuel as a power source.
Another kind of emergency illumination for offices requires no power source and has no parts that can fail or require replacement. Photoluminescent exit signs are as visible as electrical signs and do not fail during a power outage. To help in situations where smoke may of obscure an exit sign above the door, place photoluminescent signs on or next to exit doors, 6 inches above the floor.
You can further improve your employees’ ability to find an exit in the dark or in smoke with photoluminescent tape on the floor or baseboards with arrows showing the direction to the nearest exit.
All of these tools are inexpensive, providing a lot of bang (flash?) for your safety budget buck. They all require advance preparation, so figure out how many you need, purchase them, and get them in place now.
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