If you use alkaline batteries, remove them from the flashlight if it will be unused for a long time, otherwise they will leak and cause problems. Store them near the flashlight so you can find them easily. Try gluing the batteries to the flashlight barrel.
Pro tip: The best performing flashlights are specifically built to use lithium-ion batteries or have non-removable rechargeable batteries, which won’t help you if the power is out for a long time. Rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) AA batteries maintain their performance better over the life of the battery, while alkalines’ performance drops more as they run down, so buy a few Panasonic Eneloops for $41. They are better for the environment, but if they run out, you can still use regular alkaline AAs.
You may prefer to keep a headlamp handy. The Petzl Actik for $40 is my favorite model and has never let me down, from snowy mountains to dusty deserts. It runs on three easy-to-find AAA batteries and has three brightness settings, the brightest of which is more than powerful enough for around-the-home emergencies.
Coleman has discontinued our previous favorite pick, the Divide+ Push Lantern, so the Coleman 4D LED Camp Lantern for $19 is the next best choice for not many coins. Flashlights do a poor job when you need to illuminate an entire room or when you need your hands free for a task. This basic lantern offers a single setting of 54 lumens, with a run time of 175 hours on four D-cell batteries. That sounds like a lot, but compared to other full-size battery-powered lanterns, like the Coleman Twin LED Lantern that uses eight D cells, it’s economical. Fifty-four lumens isn’t what I’d call bright, but it’s plenty bright enough for most tasks, even reading, while conserving battery life.
If you want to save batteries or just prefer to hang out by soft flickering candlelight, keep an extra emergency candle or two. The Coghlan’s 36 Hour Survival Candle for $10 has three wings that will last 12 hours each. Keep a lighter or some matches nearby.
A water purifier
Most of the time, your water supply will work even when the power goes out. But major natural disasters can wipe it out or damage it, and you can end up with dirty water. The LifeStraw Go Series Water Purification Bottle for $45 marry the straw component of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter with a BPA-free plastic bottle to filter out 99.99 percent of waterborne bacteria for up to 26 gallons of water. The original bottleless straw is still a good backup option for $17, and it will filter up to 1,000 gallons.
Our previous top pick, the Grayl Ultralight Compact Purifying Bottle for $81, is quiet and excellent and dependent choice. It’s just expensive. Still, it’s a solid and fast one-person filter that will last 300 uses – a total of 40 liters – before you need to change the filter. This is what I trust when I travel to countries with no guarantee of water sanitation.
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