Strategic Preparedness – Episode 13

Olive oil lamps, glow sticks, starting fires, and flashlights - Emergency lighting tools and techniques

Emergency Lighting (Grid Down Lighting & Cooking part 2)

Did you know that natural oil lamps are the safest flame based lamps? Lamps that burn olive oil, vegetable oil or other natural oils (not petroleum based or lamp oil based) give off no vapors at room temperature, and have a very low volatility, making them one of the best choices for indoor lighting in an emergency. And they are easy to construct with items you may have around your house. I use wire (my favorite is #12 or #14 solid copper), pliers, a mason jar (with lid), 3/4″ or 1″ wide lamp wick and olive oil. Be sure to keep a sharp pair of scissors for trimming your lamp wick to keep your lamp burning bright.

You can find instructions online on how to make a lamp similar to the one I made. There are also videos available like this one:

Of course, if you don’t want to make your own, you can buy them pretty inexpensively. Amazon.com sells one here.

To light your lamp, you’ll need to be able to create a spark. Keep plenty of matches on hand – this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to light your lanterns. They do age though. Temperature, humidity and oxygen exposure eventually make matches unusable. For long term storage, vacuum pack your matches in an air tight container with a moisture absorber, and store them in a cool, dark place.

Butane lighters are also very useful. Disposable or refillable lighters are very handy. If using refillable lighters, be sure to have the right fuel and correct attachment for refilling your lighter. Eventually you may run out of matches, lighters, and lighter fuel. You’ll need a backup method of starting a flame.

Boy Scouts have used steel wool for a long time. Steel wool has lots of uses. Touch it carefully to a 9 volt battery for a strong spark that will help you create a flame. Keep steel wool tightly sealed up in a dry container to prevent it from being ruined by rusting. Strikers like ferrocerium rods, misch metal rods, flint and steel will do the job as well. Practice using different methods to see what works best for you.

Flameless light is the safest light to use when it’s available. Glow sticks and flashlights should be kept handy whenever possible. Glow sticks do have a limited shelf life. Individual foil wrapped sticks will store 2-4 years, whereas bulk glow sticks last only 12 to 18 months. Past their shelf life, glow times and brightness are greatly reduced.

Flashlights will require batteries of course, and they come in many different sizes. It’s advisable to buy and store as few battery types and sizes as possible to simplify storage. A simple battery charger is an excellent tool to have. Don’t mix new and old batteries – the new batteries will be drained far faster because the old batteries will consume part of their energy in the circuit.

Remember, brighter is not always better. There seems to be a contest to see which manufacturer can produce the brightest LED light. There is a place for bright lights, but when it’s dark and your eyes are adjusted to low light, a little bit of light will do wonders, and it saves power too.

Listen to Episode 13

(broadcast January 2, 2017)

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Have you made your own olive oil or vegetable oil lamp? What are some tricks you use to get a fire started quickly? Share in the comments below!

Instructor: Jim Phillips
Jim Phillips is a nationally known speaker and teacher who has professionally taught thousands of classes all across the United States for 40 years. For a number of years prior to this career, his hobby was teaching cold weather safety & survival.

Jim is a strong advocate of self-reliance living and family preparedness. He developed an entire preparedness curriculum by asking himself the question “What if?” and then setting out to discover what actually does and does not work.

The answers he seeks (and then teaches) must be based on true principles derived from first hand experience. Above all else, he believes that attitude and practical knowledge is more critical to survival than having a bunch of “stuff.”