I'm sure we all have some kind of light source handy for emercencies, no matter how simple or inespensive. I dont think I have to tell everyone what to have as you all have your own personal choices. For the purposes of this post, I'll just cover what WE have on hand, and why.
Oil lamps- I love oil lamps. I like the soft glow, I like the scent, and I like the ease of use. Right now we have about 8 of the large regular hurricane lamps, 4 medium sized ones, 2 small ones, plus 3 large, 4 medium, and 3 small railroad style lanterns. Only one of these was paid at full retail; the rest came from yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. I have just over a dozen large spare chimneys for each, and about 3 of each for the rest. Each size & style takes its own type of wick, and I have several packages of each. I even have a few broken lamps on hand for parts, and will sometime get spare "guts" from the local Ace hardware or Lehmans to have handy too. As far as lamp oil, right now we have 24 of the 32 oz bottles, and 5 or 6 gallon jugs. Last year I got lucky with a "wanted" ad on cragslist and got 4 cases of the 32 oz bottles for $1 a bottle. Some of it is clear, some colored, and some even scented. I didnt really care about any of that, but for a buck a bottle, I couldnt say no.
Coleman lanterns- I have several of these. 3 propane models and 3 white fuel. When it comes to bright light, you just can't beat these things. I have 6 gallons of white fuel and 20 bottles of propane at the moment. I pick up a 2-pack of propane usually once a month or so, and a gallon of fuel usually every-other. I make sure to keep plenty of mantles on hand, as well as strikers and pumps for the gas ones. I only have ONE spare globe, but I plan to get more. I have both flat bases and hanging hooks for them too. A few cheap hangers came via shepards hooks (for hanging plants) via a yard sale. (keep in mind storing extra fuel for these above and beyond what you may store for campstoves, you dont want to run out using one or the other) Since writing this initial article a week ago, my neighbor has given me 2 more lanterns that he couldnt fix.....the propane one just needed a mantle (single style), and the white fuel one needed mantles and a striker.
Candles-The good old standby. We have them all over the house, and a big box of them down here in the emergency room. Lisa makes most of our candles, so we're always dragging home half-burnt ones that people give us. We have somewhere areound 50 lbs of candlewax in a box, and plenty of wick. Lisa uses the molds at times, but prefers hand dipping. I see a lot of candles dirt-cheap at Goodwill all the time, and usually get them when I can. Not long ago I picked up 10 packages of the small "emergency candles" for 2 bucks. Gotta love Goodwill........
Flashlights- OK this is where I get really bad. I'm a flashlight junkie. I dont know what it is about a good flashlight, but I cant get enough of em. I've got several big maglites, (6, 4 and 2 Dcell), 5 AA minimags, 2 AAA minimags, 3 or 4 big lantern battery models, 2 LED lights, about 8 of the cheapo eveready throw aways, and even one monster Dacor diving light. EVERY ONE has several spare bulbs on the shelf, and spare lenses for the ones I can get them for. I make sure that I have at least 6 sets of batteries for each one at all times, and I dont store any of them I dont use regularly with batteries in them. I've considered rechargables, but in a long term scenerio with no electricity, they're pretty useless after they're dead. I have the police-style beltloops for the bigger ones (uncle mikes nylon) and small belt pouches for the mini's. I even have a mini with me at all times on a belt pouch that also holds my multi-plier.
Light sticks-I keep a few of these around, but not many. I've never really had much use for them other than a few times fishing, but I'm sure some may disagree with my choice on them.
Matches-matches, matches, and more matches. I get a box every time I go to the grocery store. Just the regular old "kitchen matches". I get the waterproof ones when I visit the local wallyworld , and grab all the little freebie matchbooks I can get my hands on. We use a lot of matches here already, so I buy even more than most would. Not long ago, I found the little waterproof match boxes on clearance for 79 cents and bought 10 of them, and they're sitting on the shelf full. I do have a couple dozen disposable lighters as well, but I just prefer matches.
Now onto other things to have handy.......All of the things listed are flammable, so I make sure there are fire extinguishers all over the house. Oil lamps can fall and break, bottles can spill, candles can fall over, camp stoves can catch fire...all not something we want to NOT be ready for. Now dont look at those piddly little kitchen models, but good large ones made for putting out such things as mentioned. Sure, they aren't pretty decorations that will match you decor, but when it comes to LIFE SAFETY, who cares??????
Extingushers are sold by Class, each having its own properties for certain fires:A is your normal combustables-wood, paper, trash,and plastics, etcB is flammable liquids and gasses-gasoline,paint, petrolium products, propane, butane, etcC is for electrical-motors, appliances, etc.Now there is only one kind made that will work on ALL 3 types, and its a cartridge operated dry-chemical. These babies are expensive, but worth having. You could invest in a couple BC models , which are usually CO2, and just a water or water and foam for A rated fires. Read the labels, determine their usage, and store them somewhere HANDY in area's that you may use what they are intended to work on....not in a closet! You may want to consider small ones to have in a bob or just in your camping gear, and one in your car/truck is always a good choice. If you want more protection, call me and I'll install a fire sprinkler system in your home, LOL. I AM layed off and have the time!! (there are household systems out there though!)
CO2 and Smoke Decectors- This one is a gimme. Plain and simple, both save lives. Check the batteries regularly, and test them regularly. Keep a spare or 2 of each on hand, ESPECIALLY if you use lamps or lanterns for a long period of time. I even go so far as to have a battery operated CO2 detector in my tent bag. Call me paranoid, but I like the idea of waking up breathing in the tent with a heater going, lol.