I was settling back to sleep when I thought, “Oh…my flashlights! Are they on?”I got up to check the three Sensor Flashlights I recently bought for just this moment. These compact flashlights sit in a charging base plugged into the wall. At bedtime, the charging bases glow to create footlights. And when a power outage occurs—like this morning—the flashlight itself comes on, shining a bright LED beam up the wall onto the ceiling, illuminating the room.Out the bedroom door I walked, down a brightly lit hallway, past the glowing door to the garage, and into a nicely lit kitchen. “They worked!” I was feeling proud of myself for my forethought and planning. Heading back to bed, I bumped into my daughter, Cyd, up early getting ready for work.“Oh No…Lights out!” I whispered out in mock alarm. She was not amused by my predawn enthusiasm. She mumbled in irritation, asking if she could take a shower. I realized that a small electric water heater services her bathroom, so I directed her to the other shower supplied by a gas water heater. Cyd shuffled off to get her things while I returned to bed. But before I could fall asleep, my curiosity got the best of me. “Why’s the power off, anyway?” I grabbed my iPad from the night stand and googled “power outage.” Immediately I was given the message “Unable to connect to the Internet.” Oh yeah… no power, no wifi. Then, in my mind, I could see a UPS power back-up unit setting neatly on a shelf in the garage. I was going to hook that up... sometime. I was no longer feeling so proud. [caption id="attachment_17578" align="alignleft" width="300"] News photos clearly showed power lines hanging directly in the flames. It is easy to see how a structure fire could knock out electricity.[/caption] Using my smart phone I discovered that a fire was burning less than a mile from our home. Video showed an under-construction apartment complex reduced to a smoking pile of ash, with a large power pole still smoldering in the middle of the scene. No personal property loss, no injuries. Just 5,000 Power Company customers without power. By the time I finished surfing the news it was time to get up. In the kitchen I met Cyd, now in better spirits, and we talked about the fire and the power outage. As I opened the fridge, no light came on. I was reminded—no refrigeration. I quickly grabbed the milk and immediately shut the door. As Cyd got out her car keys and headed toward the garage, she paused to ask “How am I going to open the garage door?” “Just push the button,” I replied, following her out the door. I watched her face as she clicked the door opener. Up came the door. In amusement she asked, “How can that happen?” “Auxiliary battery back-up,” I said. “I paid extra for that.” “Way to go, dad,” she said as she got in her car. “See ya.” My pride was restored.
Text messages are a great thing…except the ones that wake you up at 4:30 in the morning. Like today, a text from a guy in our neighborhood. I don’t know how things are in your neighborhood, but ours is quite organized when it comes to emergency preparedness. We have “Block Captains” who are C.E.R.T. certified (Community Emergency Response Training), each overseeing a corner of our ½ square mile neighborhood (about 150 homes). “The power is out...” Our neighborhood captain wanted us to be aware of any concerns this might cause. Messages like this are not uncommon. [caption id="attachment_17580" align="alignright" width="253"] Thousands of neighborhoods across the country are organized and trained to respond to emergencies.[/caption] Sitting up in bed, I thought about some older neighbors on my side of the street. Donna and Howard, 87 and 90 years old respectively, should be all right. And Beverly, age 85, should be fine, too…no oxygen concentrators, ventilators or infusion pumps for any of them. They might get a little cold, but it was a mild night last night, so I decided not to bother them until the sun came up. [caption id="attachment_17577" align="alignleft" width="202"] Sensor Lights: For about $15 apiece, you will never be left in the dark again.[/caption]
R A Myer
The author makes two very important points about power failure lights like the on display in the article. I preach interminably "If you can not see… You Can Not Act!
Power failure lights (PFL) like the one shown in the article are a temporary solution, 15-20 minutes. Based on having a that type PFL, the first thing to do in a power (light) failure is get your long term flashlight and Turn Off Your PFL Next, check on the safety of the people you are responsible for. Ensure they have a long term night/marker light that can be used as a flashlight if one is not available. Then turn off the remaining PFLs.
We have several of the PFLs shown in the article throughout the house. If we’re caught in one the rooms when the power and light fail, we can get back to the place where our higher power, longer lasting flashlights are.
There are two D Cell lanterns that are good night light and low/high level area/task lights.
The Energizer® Weatheready® Folding Lantern, 4 D cell, is one. Using LEDs, it has a yellow night light and a low/high output white light. The low power white light will last about a hundred hours. It’s bright enough to read by. It’s not water resistant, it’s an indoor light.
The other light, using LEDs, is Streamlight’s® The Siege®. It has three levels of white and a steady and SOS flashing red light. It uses 3 D cells, It’s duration is a bit less. It’s our all weather outdoor light. It’s definitely waterproof.
We have a Sleep Number Bed that has the under bed LED lights feature so that you can just touch the remote control and turn them on to maneuver around the bedroom without waking your partner. I have the whole Sleep IQ system on a 1300 watt UPS Battery Backup so that even with no power, we can turn on those lights. That allows me to find a flashlight to move about the house. Every thing on my home network is on UPS with Battery Backup and so are the TVs and the cable boxes and my surveillance camera system. We even have a 15 KW whole house standby generator that takes about 30 seconds to kick in, so the UPSs help to keep things going in the interim and they prevent the nasty power surges and dirty power spikes a generator produces from harming delicate electronics (Newer standby generators have skewed commutators and electronic governors that control frequency and voltage to +/- 1-2% which is much better control than my older generator). I did find that APC Battery Backup UPSs are very sensitive to generator power. You have to use the PowerChute software and set the surge sensitivity to low to keep it from kicking in the battery power and draining the batteries while the generator is running. I also keep a Kaito Voyager Solar/Battery/Hand Crank radio/flashlight on hand. Man, that thing has come in handy many times when we run short of batteries for the flashlights. I also have a 4400 KW gasoline powered portable generator in case the electric failure affects the natural gas pumping stations and I don’t have natural gas to power the standby generator. It is big enough to run our 3.5 ton A/C and a few lights and TV. We installed a HARD START KIT on our A/C compressor unit just for the purpose of using it with generator power. It prevents the generator from seeing an overload situation and burning up either the compressor or the generator when the compressor starts up and puts a heavy demand on it. We alternate running the A/C and the fridge and freezer when we use the smaller generator. Hot, muggy summer days are when the power outages seem to happen most often in South Louisiana, so A/C is absolutely necessary. Gasoline powered generators need to be run regularly (Two to three times a year) or several problems will develop. The first is that bad fuel can clog the carburetor and prevent starting. Always run the tank dry or drain the fuel and run it dry for storage. The second problem is that without regular run time and an electrical load applied to the generator such at a 500 watt halogen lamp, the rectifiers can go bad or the field coils can lose excitement and not put out power. To get them re-excited is a pain, but it is possible. A bad rectifier has to be replaced. I hope this helps.
My husband just hooked up our garage door to the generator so if power goes out while our son comes home from school and we are out shopping, he could get in.
We bought solar powered flashlights that sit on our bedroom window sills where they collect energy every day and will be easy to find at night. As long as we get some sun everyday they should last through whatever event happens.
Great story! So often we don’t think about preparing ourselves until something happens. In most cases things work out fine, but so often we take for granted that when “I flip that switch” light will go on. Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to have to check what kind of garage door opener I have now.