What light and darkness meant for us

light for survivalI 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?

survival lights

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?

61 responses to “What light and darkness meant for us”

  1. Jessica says:

    I usually just use flashlights or candles, I am not learning many basics when it comes to survival.

  2. sara says:

    hand crank flashlight, candles

  3. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    One of my favorite low light flashlights is the 9 volt PAL flashlight. Even if light is turned off, the LED glows with a low light that often allows just enough illumination to get your task done. A fresh battery lasts approximately a year and a half with little use.

    Recently learned of a glow in dark products called Paqlites. No batterys required – the material gains light energy from any light source (even other flashlights). Does not project a beam like a flashlight – it just glows. It is advertised as having an indefinite life span, and is completely waterproof to boot. Check out their website – some of their products may have applications for many of us.

    • jerry says:

      I have the PAL lights also and they are great.

    • J says:

      I wondered for a while if I was the only person in the world who was a fan of PAL lights; I have a couple of the ones with the ‘strobe’ emergency signal feature and have given away probably a dozen of the cheaper version with just on and off but still with the ‘moon glow’ feature. They are so durable, practically indestructible and fit anywhere. Plus the little wire on the bottom allows you to had it up or wear it around the neck. Great lights. I also like the lume sticks for emergency use, power outages, etc.

  4. Lisa says:

    I usually have a few small flashlights on me..if I couldnt find them though, I try let my eyes adjust, make sure I have my shoes on, (which normally I do), and rough it.. using my feet to scope out my walking path, my hands to keep from hitting anything dark that I miss… etc. If its at night, I would open the window shade a bit to get some moonlight in if there is any.. no point in wasting natural lighting.

    • grower says:

      Currently, I have a “shake-em-up” flashlight that uses manmade power — you shake it really hard and turn it on. I like that, because you don’t have to keep buying batteries. We lived without electricity a couple of times as a family — once for 2 years. To avoid using too much kerosene for our lamp, we went to bed earlier at night. When it got dark, we went to bed. When the sun came up, we got up. Not a terrible lot of need for light that way. If we had to go to the out house during the night, we usually just went by the light of the moon. If the night was pitch-black, we’d carry a flashlight. But batteries, kerosene, candles, etc., are not renewable resources, and perish with the using. Avoid using them as much as possible. You may not be able to replace them.

  5. mariowen says:

    I have as many different kinds of light as possible for different situations. I found, by accident, the most effective one! We purchased some of the little solar lights that you stick in the ground to light a walkway. It takes absolutely no electricity and it gathers power in the daytime. At night there is a nice glow to them. If they are left outside in the day and taken indoors at night, there is a nice free way to light the interior – if your windows are covered.
    I also invested in one of the 3 million candles flashlight. I would use that if I was approached in the night and wanted to blind someone. Just be sure to aim, then close your own eyes when you turn it on so you don’t blind yourself. Just flash it on and off quickly then move and do it again. Perhaps they closed their eyes the first time and you could get them when they reopened them. After you turn it off, get away from where you were standing because if someone is aiming a gun at you they may just aim toward the light. You need to not be there as soon as possible.

    • DW says:

      Excellent point – I bought some extra landscape LED lights as well, and have even brought one on a backpacking trip for low level light in the camp area. Be sure to buy a few extra rechargeables (most of these use AA) after a couple of years, as the ones that came with it may have expired by then.

    • Scotty says:

      That is a very good idea! Thank you so much!

    • AJ says:

      I bought a couple of those lights for my yard at Target the other day, and was pleased to find that they have an on/off switch and make a great little self charging flashlight. Very handy, and at $5 or so each, damn cheap.

  6. Jim says:

    I have oil lamps for general light, an LED hands free that can be set to very low levels, a long lasting LED light (48 hours on a single AA), and a powerful one with strobe for blinding. I have concentrated my efforts on a single, renewable energy source…AA batteries, so that they are all interchangeable. I have multiple ways to recharge them including a hand crank, 5v USB, 12v converter, Solar, and thermoelectric.

  7. DW says:

    I have lots of candles (hundreds), lots of oil lamps (a few dozen, and have 20 gallons of kerosene), a dozens Coleman lanterns and 15 gallons of fuel + extra mantles, and lots of flashlights of varying brightness, and lots of batteries.

  8. JohnR says:

    Thank you, Selco, for your time and sharing your experiences. I haven’t joined the school yet, things have been tight all year, but I really appreciate being able to access the blog.
    I tell my boys all the time “Darkness is our friend,” and that if you know your way around your home and property in the dark, you will have the advantage over anyone who should not be there. Unless they are using NVG, then it is more difficult, but really bright flashlights used at just the right moment can help with that. My wife hates the dark. Her older sister used to “torture” her when she was a little girl (jump on her in bed and cover her head with a blanket, lock her in a closet). I’ve been working on her for 11 years now, but it’s a been a long slog. I buy candles and lanterns and such, but she thinks the electricity will always be here. I make it a point to walk around in the dark, say, when I get up in the morning for work. I will go into the kids’ rooms to check on them, things like that. It’s a small exercise, but I find it useful.

    • Selco says:

      Hello JohnR
      Darkness needs to be used as your ally whenever is possible. If you have intruders in your house then darkness is your friend, and their enemy. You should know all details of your house and area around your house, in order to move in dark. In my home there is something like “controlled chaos” i mean to quest (wanted or unwanted) maybe look like mess, but to me everything make perfect sense, and every thing is there where i wanted to be. In complete dark i know where important stuff is, and how to move trough house and around it quietly. Stranger gonna make lot of noise, and that s good.I am not ninja, i just arrange things so everything works smooth and quiet.
      You do not have to put bear trap today, sometimes few cans, or glass hidden around house can give you that advantage that means difference between life and death.
      Man who is protecting his home is usually in advantage already to a man who is attacking somebody s home.

  9. Murphasaur says:

    Don’t get a stick in your eye. If you walk at night near vegetation, wear safety glasses or goggles.

    • J says:

      THAT is a very good point ( ouch) and in a wooded area it is a very real danger that would not have occurred to most of us. Plus, I have been in areas where certain types of people ‘booby trapped’ their AO by hanging treble fish hooks from nylon line at about face level.

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

      VERY TRUE, I cannot think of a worse condition then becoming blinded if the world turns upside down. Safety or military goggles would be nice to have.

  10. ncprepper10 says:

    Another item my fellow preppers may be interested in are luminaid lights. They’re solar inflatable led lights and run around $15 each. I have three and love them. Check it out! For low power lights I went with Gerber infinity ultra. Takes one aa and has a 200 hr runtime and they are nearly indestructible and tiny.

  11. Zulu Cowboy says:

    How much kerosene or lamp oil should a person have in storage?
    I mean, what’s a reasonable amount that might last for a year?

    • David says:

      I have read that in the old days when people used kerosene lamps to light every room you could easily use 2 litres ( a quart) every day. Pressure lanterns use even more.. really bright.. but they could use 2 litres every night.
      Depending on the scenario.. 100 litres would not last long.. and you should start rationing as soon as you can.
      How long is a piece of string…..

      • chuck b says:

        Most regular oil-lamps/table lamps will give about 10 to 12 hours on a filling if the flame is adjusted properly – larger lamps with larger wicks use more, smaller lamps with smaller wicks use less, but on average they will give comparable time per filling. Knowing that can help you figure how much oil you need, based on what you expect/want. I prefer the small oil-lamps with the round wicks that hold about 5-6 ounces; they can be adjusted down to minimum and use even less, but still light a room (like a bathroom, especially if set in front of a mirror) more than sufficiently for safely moving around, visiting, changing diapers, etc.
        For candles, container candles (often have a religious picture on the glass) are by far the most efficient as they don’t drip or spill (waste) any of the wax, but you have to burn them long enough each time that the wax puddle covers the top or they can “snuff” themselves with melted wax if they develop too deep a “bowl” from short-duration burns. Candles have the advantage that they can’t spill if the lid’s not tight enough (kerosine), don’t have potentially explosive fumes (Coleman fuel, gasoline), won’t leak out if the valve isn’t fully closed (propane), etc. Don’t forget that Crayons are also made of wax; there is that wax “skin” on some cheeses and other products; look around at everyday items with an eye for what they “really” are. Then buy some spare candle-wick, it’s too cheap to overlook, and regular cotton string is NOT a good substitute unless you want to trim and clean the wick every several minutes.

        Chuck B.

  12. schlomo says:

    Some of my experiences: I have bought many cheap flashlights that look like they are high quality, and they are not. HomeDepot, Lowes, Walmart etc specializes in these generic brand flashlights. They often come in packages of three or more and are real cheap around Christmas. Do not buy them. One stopped working literally after about a minute of use, and the built in laser went on the fritz too. These things are made to look like a Surefire or something, but are crap. Spend the extra on a decent light that won’t let you down or stop working if you lightly tap it against something hard.

    I have yet to have a crank handle flashlight that lasts. It seems that the battery wears out on all of them and they wont take a charge. Always opt for LED lights. They last longer on a charge and wont burn out. I have a Fenix and like it, it’s around $50, though you can find a Maglite 2 AA light that is very very similar, usually for $10 or $12 during Christmas sales at the big stores.

    For long term light, solar powered LED spotlights are good. But again, in my case, my solar powered light stopped working and changing the batteries did not help. Seems like everything is total crap from China designed to fail. Again, spend extra on quality.

  13. Aphek says:

    Here’s something to remember: if you want to keep up your nightvision but must briefly use a light you should keep one eye closed while the light is on. Try it next time you go to the bathroom at night. Close one eye before you turn on the light, open it after you turn the light off. When you walk back to your room you will be amazed what the closed eye can see.

    I read somewhere that this is why pirates wore eyepatches. When they were boarding an enemy ship at night they had the torchlight to fight under while on deck. When they went below, where enemies were waiting in the darkness, they would flip up the eyepatch and have decent nightvision, if only in one eye.

    Hope it helps someone. Thanks for the new article Selco.

  14. Aphek says:

    (Sorry about the monkey pic I have to change that)

  15. john says:

    I use pen lights a lot for the simple reason I can hold it in my mouth and use both hands. I work on things that require two hands. If not a pen light then something I can hang or attach to something. Some cell phones have a built in flashlight. I have one of those. It gets used if I can’t find my pen light. I have 4 metal pen lights and one plastic one. The plastic ones are the best because they are easiest to hold in your mouth. In the old days when I had a beeper and I used it for light if I couldn’t find my pen light.

    For a really bright light I use a 6 D cell maglite with a special high output bulb.

    Small flashlights that use LEDs instead of lightbulbs are good for making the battery last longer. I have a little LED flashlight that looks like a little miniature lantern. It is handy for power outages. I hang it from the chandelier in my house and turn it on whenever the power goes out.

  16. PATHFINDER says:

    I am a retired drug interdiction agent, and was stationed along the Mexican border for a few years.

    As I patrolled at night I had some unusual experiences with light.

    When I was working along the river in heavy brush I could not see people unless they were very close to me, and usually only if they moved.

    This was due to overlapping of cane, mesquite, high grass and shadows.

    Constant slow scanning was the only way to detect a person who was not moving, as we have a blind spot in the center of our vision when the light goes away and our eyes are using our rods, vs. cones.

    If there WAS some light nearby, or if a vehicle drove nearby with its headlights on, I found it would “streak” or “smear” across my glasses, effectively ruining my night vision.

    I was also concerned with my glasses reflection giving away my position as the light distracted me.

    I found it was better to take off the glasses and work with what my 20/50 vision would allow me to see without worrying about my glasses working against me.

    I reasoned that I could see far enough to use my shotgun with buckshot, though I could not have used a rifle accurately with my diminished vision.

    I saved my rifles for day shifts.

    I knew I could not identify a person beyond shotgun range anyway without light or night vision.

    The biggest problem I had working without my glasses occurred when I walked into a branch one night.

    It HURT, as eye injuries do, and the eye crusted shut for two or three days.

    When my doctor could finally open the eye to examin it, he detected a scratch.

    About ten years later, when an optometrist checked my vision, I asked how the scratch looked-he had to check my eye again to find a trace of it.

    I agree the dark can be our friend.

    So can remaining stationary in shadow.

    Especially if you can also be hidden by bushes.

    For me, the scariest time was when if I had to walk into an area after dark before my eyes adjusted to the darkness.

    Sometimes we were dropped off from a vehicle that kept moving slowly through an area to disquise our insertion.

    The only sane thing to do was to move to the a bush or tree far enough off the road to not be revealed by another vehicle driving into the area.

    Then, like Selco in the hallway, we would wait for our eyes to adjust to the darkness.

    • Aphek says:

      Great comment Pathfinder, thanks for sharing. I hadn’t thought about light reflecting on glasses.

      A supply of contacts might be useful for these situation. Storing a supply of solution is equally important because certain rare amoebas in water can cause a very nasty eye infection but if absolutely necessary (ie SHTF) a “clean as possible” saltwater solution (filtered and boiled water + salt) can be used in place of the solution. Another option is anti-reflection coating on prescription lenses, if it can keep a camera flash from reflecting it probably works well for less intense light sources as well.

      My concern was looking like a potential victim. There’s a bad block I used to walk through often in my neighborhood. After I started wearing glasses I noticed that questionable persons seemed to act a lot more aggressive toward me. In three years without glasses I only had one issue, but after about three months of glasses I had four very suspicious issues there. Now when I have to go through I don’t wear the glasses (contacts or glasses in pocket) and have not had any issues. Like Selco says, try not to look interesting.

  17. Some Guy says:

    An old trick that works is to close one eye when using a light or entering a more-lit area… Re-open that eye when you are back in darkness and both eyes will be back at full capacity in about a minute.

  18. Grady says:

    Military technique for using/observing light at night is covering one eye with your hand (because light will go through a closed eyelid) to preserve your night vision.

  19. Aphek says:

    Not sure why my previous comment was taken down (probably the stupid avatar, sorry, I think I fixed it).

    I suggested that if your eyes have already adjusted to nightvision but you need to use a flashlight you can close one eye to preserve nightvision in that eye. Try it the next time you get up in the middle of the night, close an eye and turn the light on, turn it off and open the eye. The difference is amazing.

    Selco I do have a question for you, it may seem a little out of place given what we talk about here but what happened with bills when SHTF? I have to imagine people stopped paying things like their mortgages or rent for apartments, but in the early stages did those things still matter? How about after it was all over? Were people who made it through alive kicked out of their homes for not paying their loans?

    Thanks again for putting your wisdom in writing, video, and audio interviews for us. It truly is one of the best SHTF resources I’ve encountered.

    • Selco says:

      Comment is posted, avatar is fine, no problems other then technical problems.
      Everything connected to money and bills stopped of course. Nothing worked. About paying bills and it was gone in early stages, and did not work trough all of the period of SHTF, and for quite long period even when everything ended.
      Lot of time needed to things get in place when peace came. Lot of folks keep living in kind of “wild west” when it comes to bills and loans.
      It was mess actually, for example some banks stopped to exist (booth, like companies and physical buildings) so some things are just “forgotten”, i mean debts.
      Or in other cases lot of folks lost their savings, because suddenly their Banks stop to exist, and never come back.
      But on the other side not to many folks here prior the SHTF lived on loans. If SHTF today it would be different.

      • Aphek says:

        Thank you Selco. I appreciate your answering questions from commenters on the blog and I’m glad I bought the course, it’s really worth it. Especially with the newsletter discount.

        Thanks to Jay as well. Keep up the great work guys, you’re helping a lot of people.

  20. carl morgan says:

    Downloaded flashlight app for smartphone. Can use any color light. I use red. Better for night vision. Kept phone flashlight on for 1.5 hours and battery on phone was still good. Is good for seeing things you need to read or work on. But not bright enough to be seen by others easily.

  21. Larry says:

    A lot of excelent tips and info. When I was in the military, we always had drills on night vision, etc. and being able to shoot in the dark. If you look slightly to one side, you can usually see well enough to make out your sights, and what you are shooting at. I have a good small flashlight from Ryobi (Home Depot) it uses a rechargable lithium battery (4v.) and a particularly strong bulb, that gives bright clear light (I don’t like the LED’s because they glow, rather than projecting a beam) The Ryobi is only about 1″x 5″ and has a strong clip for fastening to clothing etc. I have been using the same one, with the same battery, for three years for hunting and as an emergency light in the truck, and It seems to be absolutely “bomb-proof”. I used several of the “pen lights” from “Mag-light” and they always failed within a few months. The batteries that they came with would be corroded so that you couldn’t get them out, and the tiny bulbs are almost impossable to replace.

  22. Jeremiah says:

    i notice you haven’t said much about NVGs. did anyone have those in your area? if so what would they have been, 1st gen or 2nd gen?

    • Selco says:

      No. In that time to have night vision was almost impossible if you are not in the army, in some highly specialized part. It was impossible actually to buy it, to find it.Maybe if you had connection to someone outside country. It was 20 years ago.Maybe one year later, it was more usually to see NVG because increased importing of weapon.

  23. David says:

    Thanks Selco for more good information. Since I have been preparing I have become a bit of a collector and an expert on all sorts of “oil” lamps. And liquid fuel cookers. I will post a bit about this later.
    Just for now re the discussion about night vision, I would mention “red light” which you can use and not effect your night vision. I have an LED headlamp which has a red LED… and white too. So you can see.. and not be seen nearly as much as with white light.. and preserve your vision if you have to suddenly go dark. Red light is commonly used on yachts at night for reading charts etc. Headlamps are great as they leave your hands free, and bring a point of light where you need it.
    LEDs have completely changed ‘survival lighting”. I have solar charged lanterns., powerful LED spotlights, and lots of handy “key chain” LEDs which are easily carried.
    I also now have a night vision scope.. which could be a real game changer in a SHTF situation. Widely available and not too expensive in the USA.

    • john says:

      Oh yeah! thanks for mentioning the red LED lights. I need to pick up some of those.

      • J says:

        You MAY also want to experiment with the blue or green filters – if you are reading anything by the light, the red lens can cause a color shift and make some things ( red or yellow lines on maps, or other inks in needful texts ) disappear,

      • Aphek says:

        The Energizer Trail Finder 7 is a good, inexpensive headlamp with a red LED as well as some white ones. It runs on 3 AAAs and has decent life on battery, I think a couple days on red. With the elastic headband you can easily rig it up on things (I use it as a bike light when biking at night).

        A small solar panel with USB output can be had for about $100 and with a couple USB battery chargers you should be able to charge four AAAs in a couple hours with good sunlight.

  24. Richard Stone says:

    1. Oil lamps are good as they can be adapted for various fuels however, they can also be a hazard especially around small children or if their placement allows easy tipping.

    2. Obtaining items that use the same size batteries is also a good idea and one that I have practiced for years, my preference being AA’s NiCad’s as they are rechargebale and I carry a roll up solar panel for that purpose.

    3. Something we learned at UDT school was to look slightly to the side of the object you actually want to observe in low light. This allows the eye to gather more light from the peripheral rod recepters as the center cones are basically out of commission.

    4. Stored fuel is just that “stored” and at 7+ pounds per gallon is not easily moved. Stored fuel should be treated with a fuel preservative such as Stabil or better yet “PRI” (the best I have found).

    5. Last, I also carry a small finger light, comes in great for map reading and for CQB at night with a knife.

  25. David says:

    Just while I am thinking about reading. Selco can you comment about books after the SHTF. When TV goes.. did books become more in demand? When you are stuck inside.. perhaps because of danger.. what do you do to fill the time.

    I know my brother said that when the power went out in the 3rd world country where he was living he needed to light 3 candles to read.. one was not enough.. too hard on the eyes. When you take away TV and the internet… you leave a BIG hole in what people do with their time these days. I think an LED headlamp is OK to read with… no need to light the whole room.

    • Selco says:

      In my case most of the books were used for fire. But my situation was specific and very bad. If you look in some other parts of that region in that time, where situation was bad, but not so bad you could see that folks actually read a lot, and play games like cards and board games.
      Nothing else to do in free time, and also that was good way to “run away” from rude reality.
      I read few times with light of just one oil lamp, yea it can be done but it just get your eyes “burning”. Some small reading lamp (low power consuming, LED probably) would be good idea. I seen couple of those “reading lamps”, small LED lights, supposed to be attached on book while you read it. Never tried to read whole book with that lamp so i do not know are they so useful. They usually give that kind of lamps as a present when you buy some book.

  26. Richard Stone says:

    Maybe someone can explain to me why my post was removed.

    If you don’t want my input that’s fine but I would think that information from someone who has been there done that would come in handy.

    No, I don’t brag about my 30+ years of experience with numerous combat experiences in several countries (Viet Nam, Honduras, Nicaragua, Rhodesia, Angola, Faulklands, Panama, Columbia, Peru, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sarajevo just to name a few).

    Some of you know me as I was a former radio talk show host on survival topics and preparedness (Stone Cold Survival).

    And, I am not trying to steal any thunder from Selco or his efforts. Personally, I think he is doing a great job with his site and has excellent personal experience to share.

    But, what none of you seem to understand is WHAT you are about to come up against……..WORLD TYRRANY!

    There is no room for mistakes unless you want to lose your lives.

    This is NOT a game!!

    Good luck and God Bless,


    • Selco says:

      Sorry Mr. Stone. I can explain. Just technical problems, nothing else.
      All comments are approved unless they are insulting or offensive in any way, and I am definitely glad to have you here to join discussion with your suggestions and experience.
      Welcome here.

  27. Larry says:

    I have to ask your permission to jump im here, with a comment that is way off subject. I have been watching the manuvering to approve the U.N treaty on small arms. It has been adopted, and awaits only the action by the senate, and then the president’s signature. If anyone is holding off buying guns or ammo, please, please, do not wait. Your life, and that of your family, will not be worth anything if you can’t protect yourself from what is comming down.The government is buying up literally billions of rounds of special purpose ammunition, not for war, but to “control the population.” Every government entity, post office, social security, etc. are all being armed to the teeth. While the “news” hypes a figure of 175million rounds, the actual figures in the last few weeks, is over 1.6 BILLION! I’m really afraid that the time for stocking up on food, gold and silver, and such things may well be “too little-too late, if you are not prepared now, it’s probably too late. The “knock at the door” may well come tonight.I pray that I’m wrong, and I’ll continue to “prepare” every day, untill the knock comes. By the way, I’ve been reading about how people have been finding reflective stickers on the outside of their homes. On a mailbox, or fence post, in inconspicuous spots, but visable from a vehicle. The thought is that they are there to alert the pick-up teams when they come in the night to pick up the dissenters, and resistors, and take us to the camps. most are blue, or yellow, but mine, and several others on our road, are red!

    • Muddy505s says:

      You can probably find out what the different colors mean, but I’d just go scrape it off or put up a less “dangerous color” reflective tape or material. Put the red one on someone’s location you REALLY don’t like.
      There can be more than ONE player in that game…just play well, and stay below the radar.

  28. Foreigner says:

    I use one of those magnet torches where you shake them. They give off a small ligh beam and you wont have to run around looking for AA batteries when TSHTF

  29. armedandsafe says:

    The problem I would have with the “shake and light” flashlights is the noise they make when you need to shake them. Even the crank ones make some noise, but it is much quieter.

  30. Lefty Prepper says:

    I’ve lived rural off-grid and am currently very urban. Country darkness and city darkness are different. Acclimate yourself to both. Whenever I see a neighborhood with the power out I stop and wander around. This allows me to experience true urban darkness -no streetlights, ambient light from houses etc. (Also to observe how first responders/firefighters/cops act in “normal” power down situations, so maybe I can spot them acting different if an abnormal power down occurs and have that tiny edge of knowing something is wrong.)

    -In the city buildings block out moon light and have the same effect as being at the bottom of a canyon.

    -Any vehicles still using lights will blind you. I added a baseball style cap to the bug out bag to help with this. If there’s a line of traffic, say evacuees or service vehicles, you can’t close your eyes until they all pass, but you can tilt your head.

    -Again like a canyon, directional sound is messed up in the city. I can usually tell where a noise comes from in the woods, not in town.

    -For the love of g-d don’t light a cigarette if you don’t want to be seen. I saw one from like 8 blocks away in pitch black, without my glasses. I can’t even see clearly that far with my glasses, but that little red dot glowed like a beacon. (On the other hand I added a pack to my BOB because I noticed in blackouts that the only people who are able to stand around and observe the emergency crews are people non-chalantly smoking on the curb, others are usually asked to move along. If the world is still at all normal and you want to observe without standing out from the crowd, stand and smoke. if someone asks for a cig or a light, smoke with them and pump them for information.)

    -There are fewer grays in an urban environment, more black and white. I mean to say, in the wilderness there are light patches, dark patches, and gray patches. Most is gray and you get used to picking out objects from a gray. In the city when the lights go out i feel it’s more like bright bright patches you can see in well enough or dark dark patches you can’t see in at all.

    -My city is ridiculously dog friendly so this might be an anomally, but there always seem to be a few loose confused and scared dogs running around if a neighborhood is blacked out for more than an hour. ??? Like Selco’s said, watch for things out of the ordinary.

    Also, party supply stores frequently have fingertip flashlights with a single led bulb in a multitude of colors. My red led cost a buck and has run off the same button batteries for over three years and hundreds of hours of use. Stays on my finger with a bit of elastic.

  31. momjac says:

    Since I’ve moved to the country, I find myself doing barnyard chores in the dark often. I was given a small headlamp type flashlight with elastic to keep it on my forehead. 4 small LED lights and one small red LED. WOW!! It really does work great! And my hands are free to carry buckets and eggs, etc.

    Also, I notice that when I am looking the direction of an animal, no matter how far away, Their eyes glow in the dark!!! A little spooky at first, but I’m getting used to it… I know its just the sheep or cats.

    After reading several of the comments above, I think I will check out the finger flashlights. They sound cool too.

  32. David says:


    I just wanted to give a little report on this night vision scope that I have. I got mine thru Amazon, but there are many other sellers. The reviews on Amazon are mostly +ve and people say what I think. Pretty good value for the $ and seems well made and easy to set up and use. It is generation 1 and not “incredible” but it does give you night vision. You can see in the dark.. limited distance and area.. but IT WORKS. And you can hunt and defend yourself if it is mounted on your rifle.
    It has an infra red light built in so you can “see” into dark places… like buildings.

    Could be a real game changer in a SHTF situation. ( The generation 2 night vision devices are much better and MUCH more expensive.)

    • dave says:

      the cheaper/lower end night vision units, they for the most part rely on the quote IR illuminator thats on the side of the scope, for its range, have seen some that work surprisingly well for being 1rst or 2nd gen units, please remember when you turn on that illuminator you are lighting up the area to anyone else who has access to NV equipment, and its amazing how much you light up the place when somone with 3rd gen units are watching others playing with 1rst gen units, and when the illuminator is turned off the person with the 3rd gen unit, owns you, please keep that in mind, it might make the difference in staying alive, take care; all,

      • David says:

        In a war situation you will have lots of people with Night Vision. In a non military SHTF or economic breakdown the general population won’t have night vision and probably will not even consider the possibility that someone else has it.
        On a night with some moon, or in the early evening, I could see well enough to walk along the trail.. but could not see any detail of what was ahead. The night vision without the IR light was a huge improvement. And a quick flick of the IR light let me “see” into the dark places.. under trees etc. Even when animals where quite close ( cows) and I knew they were there, I could not see them. With the NV.. easy.
        The scopes are quite heavy tho.. and on a heavy rifle.. make quite a load.

  33. Mike B says:

    I can’t see the comments here, they may be blanked because I’m not a member. But I thought I would add, a number of years back, I was involved in some clandestine work, and the best type of light I found was a Mini-Mag Light with a red lens filter. Mag Lights are indestructible and waterproof, and the red filter created the best light, useful but discreet. Red also doesn’t affect your night vision as much as white or other colors, so you can use it when necessary, and when you turn it off it doesn’t take as long to gain your night vision back. In general, we could always spot the novice, they were the one with a bright white light that was always on.

  34. Muddy505s says:

    A point mentioned was the way your eyes get “tunnel vision” when using a light at night. A simple way to diffuse your light – even with a red lens mini-mag – is to use some “frosted” type scotch tape over the lens.

    One can adjust the layers to get different levels of diffused light, instead of the intense beam or bright cone of light. It resembles the way a flashlight beam is softened and spread out by fog.

    One can also use a piece of plastic bag (except black) or even white paper for diffusion.

    Red is the best light, in my opinion. It is a low frequency light that doesn’t reflect off of multiple surfaces well, yet offers a high contrast for near distance vision. One can see quite a bit with a brief flash of frosted red light without lighting up the whole room, or alley, or forest. It is only marginally good for night time map reading because the red will change or mask out some terrain colors. Excellent for regular black on white print though.

    Some night, try sitting in the corner of a room (on an unlit side of your house or apt.), back against the wall, with a small flashlight. Have a book between the red light and the room just as if you were reading it. Have someone go outside to look back in through a window at various distances away from the house or building and see if they can perceive a lit room. The red light has to bounce off the book onto a wall and out a window to be seen.

    Thanks all – lots of good info here

  35. MadMoto says:

    Can’t you use your hand to mask some of the bright light? I do it all the time with my minimag.

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