First Aid Kits and Emergency Lighting

 

First Aid Kits

Listed below are basic components of a first aid kit suggested by the American Red Cross. The link below takes you to the Red Cross site where you can read more information regarding types of first aid kits. The video included above also lists important components for a first aid kit.

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy

 

Emergency Lighting

During a power outage, emergency lighting will become indispensable. Consider the following emergency as part of your emergency preparedness plan and kit.

Although lovely, candles are a poor choice in disasters due to fire and explosion hazards. The Red Cross recommends against the use of candles during blackouts because they are a major source of fires during outages. It’s better to rely on alternative forms of lighting than to risk creating an emergency on top of another emergency.

However, some people will use candles because it’s all they have, or because they run out of batteries for flashlights.  If you do use candles, use ones in a sturdy jar with a lid because they are less prone to being knocked over.  Be sure they are carefully supervised and never leave the room if a candle is burning! Don’t put them close to anything burnable (like blowing curtains), and place them on a non-burnable surface just in case they get bumped.  Don’t forget the need for a dependable way to light them (matches or lighters, stored out of the reach of children), and have a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case something does catch.

Kerosene and oil lamps are another option prone to accidents.  The flame is contained within the lantern so it’s a little safer than a candle’s open flame, and the amount of light provided is better than a single candle.  On the other hand, kerosene and lamp oil are highly poisonous, must be stored out of the reach of children, tend to get very hot, and need to be stored away from accidental ignition sources.  [We store ours in an insulated and latched picnic cooler, which helps protect them from ignition sources and contains any mess if they are broken in an earthquake.]

Propane lamps are another option, but like other liquid fuel lamps, are not recommended for indoor use because of the risk of carbon monoxide build-up.  They also need a good reserve of fuel if they are your choice for an emergency.

On the whole, LED battery-operated lanterns or flashlights are the safest choices for emergencies. Flashlights are better for finding your way around in the dark, while battery-operated lanterns are best for ambient room light.   The best models have both options built into one light.  There are expensive models, but there are also very reasonable models if budget is an issue.

Many stores also offer battery-operated candles that look like a regular candle but are safer.  These can be a great way to provide ambient low-level lighting for eating, family games, or a trip to the loo.  A mirror, aluminum foil, or a jug of water near a candle or lantern can amplify the light source without extra fuel consumption.

Headlamps are a great way to be able to provide focused, hands-free task lighting.  Most people don’t have these, but this is probably the best bed-side emergency lighting you can have.  That way, if a fire, earthquake or tornado happens, you have two free hands to crawl, move debris, administer first aid, or pick up your child as needed.

However, if flashlights, headlamps or lanterns are your plan for lighting without power, don’t forget to have plenty of extra batteries (of the right type!) on hand. You probably have enough for the short-term, but would you have enough for a longer outage?  Stores run out of batteries quickly in an emergency, so it’s best to have a decent stock at home beforehand, just in case.

Another great product is a nightlight/emergency light that is constantly charged by plugging into your hall’s electrical outlet.  These provide a nice low nightlight for everyday use, but automatically light up brightly if the power goes out.  Many models also have a flashlight option, making it even more useful in an emergency.  Think how hard it would be to escape the house in pitch black darkness after a disaster and how valuable automatic emergency lighting would be!

In a similar vein, there are lanterns and flashlights that you plug into the wall to keep charged.  Like the nightlight/emergency light, they are then are ready for use if the power goes out.

You can also purchase lights that are operated by crank or by shaking; they work by kinetic energy so you are not dependent on batteries.  These are great.

It’s good to have a combination of both battery-operated and hand-crank lights for maximum versatility.