In my home office, I keep a plastic bin filled with chemical light sticks, numerous flashlights, small lanterns, batteries, and a new addition – a small AM/FM transistor radio. All of my gear takes one of two battery types: CR123, and AA. There is a stash of batteries in this bin that is only used for devices in the bin. The important lesson I learned regarding this bin was that we only had enough chem-lights for seven days, and that we really needed a AA-powered AM/FM radio (See the section on information flow in a previous post).
Chem Lights are great during power outages, but they don’t put out a whole lot of light. I used them mostly as night-lights so that we could walk around the house without tripping over our huge black dog. For powered lights, I recommend LED-based flashlights and lanterns. They can put out an amazing amount of light, and the batteries last a long time. We used the flashlights constantly at night, and I only had to replace the batteries once. I use a lithium-powered flashlight all the time in normal life, and when the batteries get low, I put them in a box in my office. When the power goes out, I use these mostly depleted batteries in the LED lanterns. They only last for a day or two, but they work, and why not use them up! For a power failure lasting two weeks, we barely put a dent in our battery supply.
Lessons learned: Have an AA-powered AM/FM radio. In this age of ipods, having a portable radio when the power goes out can be a big deal. Also, if you’re stocking chem-lights, consider a longer outage than you might expect.
When all the batteries had been picked clean in the local stores, there was one type of battery that was still available in every store I checked: AAs. Forget about finding D batteries in an emergency!