I remember when all was over, and electricity came back in street. We managed to repair some installations and wires inside house and lights go on.
We were quiet for couple of minutes staring at the light bulbs like some tribe from Amazon that sees light bulbs for a first time. And then one of the older guys from the family breaks the silence and says: „Oh my God we lived in pig shack for a year“.
Wall paint was gone, holes were everywere, in corners there was all kind of junk, and everything had dark colour from improvised oil lamps, everything was sticky.
I guess we did not see all that because even during daytime, with covered windows you can not see too many details, not to mention that small lamps during the night do not give enough light to see everything. And also we did not care for some things I think, we did not have time.
Also we were not prepared for all that hell, when everything started most of the folks had few candles inside the house, and maybe one lamp in car or garage.
Soon we realized that we needed to „invent“ some new way of lighting. Actually not new, again old folks jumped in with solution from their past.
So we used mostly lamps with oil. Sometimes with cooking oil, or sometimes with mixture of pine resin and diesel I believe. It was small lamp in the glass, made from bottle cap and rope, or shoe lace. It went off regularly, stank like hell, gave lot of thick black greasy smoke. But also gave some light. And that was important.
Importance of light is not only to see where you are going or what you are doing in your house. I think it is something that divides us from animals. Just like fire it gives you feeling of being at home. So to have light in house in those days, when we sit all together to eat or to plan something meant a lot. It is one of the little things we take for granted but can make big difference.
But to talk about importance of light means also to talk about importance of darkness. In darkness we go out and do things. All things.
Forget about picture of guy with strong lamp walking around and using light to see where he is going. To have lamp on at open during the night usually meant drawing somebodys attention. And you all probably know already that drawing somebodys attention was bad thing.
Light in form of lamps and batteries was good for very short terms, if you are moving very quickly, I mean to light something very quickly, one second or two and thats it. In closed areas it was different, but even then we covered lamp with hand, using only small amount of light.
You try to stay hidden so when it comes to light or making noise you always keep things minimal.
Best way for walking out in terms of light was clear night with moonlight, and good idea was to go outside of my house, to sit in yard for some time in order to let my eyes some time to adapt to night and moonlight.
Then it would be fine to walk, when you adapt yourself to constant greyness of everything, and shadows.
Even today when I go out from my apartment, I usually spend some time in dark hall, before going out during the night.
There is something called peripheral vision. You can see objects in night outside of your central (forward) vision.
In reality I went out and moved very slowly, with many stops where I would take few deep breaths and look with eyes wide open, trying to catch any sign of movement.
Try it, practice your night vision, I mean natural night vision, you’ll see that you can see during the night objects that are moving when you are ready for that and you get used to some of the tricks shadows can play on you.
You have sort of tunnel vision when you use your flashlight. Human eyes just need too much time to adapt from light to darkness. And of course too much time if we are talking about real survival situation.
Darkness can be your friend, just like light can be your friend. But again both can be your enemy.
Using your flashlight too often and then your eyes need to adjust to darkness again can mean difference between life and death.
I am not saying that flashlights are stupid, or you do not need flashlight when SHTF. I have around 60 lamps and flashlight, different kinds, from led stuff, hang on wall lamps to powerful torches. I am taking things very serious in this part of preparation. It is just no camping trip where you go out and point light at everything.
Once I was out at night with two friends looking for useful things like always and we met other group. One guy from my group put light on them and we saw they have guns. We turned and ran like hell and got away. That he pointed light in their face might have saved our life. They just shouted some bad words but the light must have blinded them and it seemed they had no real flash light so they could not follow us before their eyes adjusted to darkness again.
Just like with all what I write, I suggest you to go out during the night and test it. It is gonna be maybe hard for you to find destroyed city, without eletricity, with shooting in background, but do not worry.
Practice your night vision
For example go to woods, or bigger park close to your home, and bring lamp with you. Have plan before that, I mean trip plan how to get from point A to point B.
First go trough the park with lamp, all the way. You’ll see clearly part of ground that you are putting light on that given moment, but for everything else you are blind, not to mention you are clearly visible with your lamp in darkness.
Then spend some time, 30-40 minutes in dark, adapting your eyes, then go back without lamp, all way. Depending on terrain, you’ll see that sometimes it is much easier to go without lamp. Using your eyes after adapting them to darkness. You’ll see maybe silhouettes only and shades, but you are seeing bigger picture. Some trees maybe that you can remember and other “landmarks”.
I suggest to use night with moon, partially cloudy, so you can see difference when moon is covered with clouds, and when clouds go away. Get to know your neighborhood in darkness.
Learn pros and cons of moving in both ways, because there is gonna be situation when one is better than another, you never know.
And of course, just like with everything use some common sense, never stare directly to light, lamp, candle or whatever.
When it comes to lamps, flashlights and all other sources of light, there is no perfect answer for every situation. You may find yourself in situation that you need some really small light, just to see silhouetes, or just to see in what you are going to put your shoe in next step.
I mean for example you gonna find yourself trying to take something useful from ruined apartment building in the middle of the night, at the third floor. You can not see anything, so you need some kind of light.
From this picture what kind of light source is gonna be best for urban survival situations?
If you ask me I would choose this Pelican light, or that small white „penlight“. All other things on picture are stronger sources of light, and if you ask me why I do not choose them, answer is simple: I want to see things in order to use something. I do not want to flash so strong so anybody can see me and my light. So between good visibility around me, and danger that I might be seen I chose some kind of compromise, with small light.
That Ultrafire flashlight is very good to see clear and at much longer distances, or to „blind“ someones eyes. First one is cool if you want to hang it and light your room, can go very long on three AA batteries, and it is very cheap (around 2.50 Euros here).
I mean there is no too much sense to use UltraFire flashlight to light your room while you having dinner with your family, it is too expensive and not so practical way to do it.
Those are just few examples, not to mention gas lamps operated on gas or oil, so best idea is to have lot of stuff so you can choose.
How do you prepare when it comes to light?