Tag: flashlight

“Winter storm threatens millions of Americans.”

Car rear view mirror shows snow surrounding car , suggests danger
Will you survive a snow storm in your car?

Are you heading out in your car today — into the snow?

How will you fare if you get stuck in a winter storm? Will you survive?

Most people make it through, of course. Last year a 36 year old man was stuck in a winter snow storm for 5 days, along with his dog. They made it out alive even though all they had to eat were taco sauce packets.

Some people don’t make it out alive. You probably remember the 2007 story of the Kim family. After being stuck in an unfamiliar mountain road in Oregon, the father tried to walk out to get help. His wife and two young daughters stayed in the car, and were found alive after 9 days. The father was found dead, 16 miles from the car.

Experts generally advise, “Stay with the car.”

Obviously, what you have with you IN the car will make that decision a lot easier!

I know you’re busy, what with Christmas coming in just a few days. But take the time NOW to review this list of survival items for your car. In just a couple of minutes you can make some choices about what to have in your car that could mean the difference between easy and hard, even life and death if you get caught in a winter storm.

Check off the things you already have in your car’s Survival Kit and your Emergency Road Kit. DOUBLE CHECK the items you should add right now, so you’ll have them before the next storm arrives.

List with checkmarks

(in the lists below, the underlined words are links that lead to earlier articles here at Emergency Plan Guide, go to YouTube for useful videos, or go directly to Amazon so you can check features and prices. We’re Associates at Amazon so we may get a small commission if you buy through our link. Your price isn’t affected, of course.)

For the average driver, even this list of car parts and supplies is pretty extensive.

If you know how to use something, you can decide to include it. If you think you should include something, but don’t know how to put it to use, time for a few training videos on YouTube!

For even short delays in traffic, you may need:

If your car stops running in a winter storm, you’ll be glad you have these additional items:

If you could possibly get stuck in snow or sand, you’ll definitely want:

  • Fold-able shovel (This one is more expensive but gets the VERY BEST ratings!)
  • Kitty litter, sand, or rock salt to pour in front of your tires. Check out Magic Traction as a better alternative.  You may be able to dig down far enough to slide your floor mats underneath both of the tires that are receiving power. (May mess up the mats, of course.)
  • Towing strap (get the right weight for your car)

(Want a refresher on driving tips for getting your car unstuck? Check this article from Les Schwab, the tire people: https://www.lesschwab.com/article/what-to-do-when-your-car-is-stuck-in-snow.html)

Pack everything in a sturdy pack or maybe two. Put the heaviest things on the bottom. And tie the packs down so they don’t fly in an emergency stop and hit you or one of the kids.

Now, that’s a good start! I am sure you will come up with other personal items you couldn’t do without in a winter storm. Add them!

The idea is to have enough of the important items that your car-stuck-in-the-snow adventure remains an adventure, and doesn’t become a real emergency.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. One other essential — an Auto Roadside Assistance plan! We’ve had AAA for years, and it has been a godsend. My latest research on plans suggests that plans associated with your auto insurance company may not be as good as plans from independent companies. Consider where you live, what’s likely to happen, what the crew will deliver to you, how far they will tow you without an extra charge. Above all, how many times can you USE the service? (per person, per household).

P.P.S. We welcome any good stuck-in-the-snow stories!

Battery Failure Ruins Flashlight


We Test More Batteries

If you’ve been following our blog entries you know that over two years ago we ran some tests on our Emergency Response Team’s battery purchases and the batteries’ life expectancy.

Battery failure

Recent failure of one battery ruined the entire flashlight

What we found was that performance between Duracell and EverReady batteries was pretty much equal, and both outperformed their private label versions sold through the big box stores (Costco & Sam’s Club).

The one dramatic difference was a higher failure rate (i.e. leakage and corrosive damage to our radios, flashlights and other tools that we relied on) for the Duracell batteries than for the EverReady batteries.

It’s important to note here that our Neighborhood Emergency Response Team typically has close to sixty active volunteers. We issue each team member a radio (FRS/GMRS) and a flashlight. We run active monthly drills with the radios and recommend that members check their batteries regularly and change them twice annually. The result is that we spend almost $1,400.00 annually on AA, AAA, C & D batteries and replacement radios, flashlights and other devices.

Batteries Die and Fail

While most batteries simply die and are unable to produce sufficient voltage or current to power the devices, we experience a 15% (+) failure due leakage and corrosion. We are able to “repair” about half of the radios using baking soda & water paste applied with Q-tips to dissolve the corrosion confined to the battery compartments. Flashlights are usually a total loss.

You can easily see an example of corrosion on the black flashlight in the photo. It takes a sharper eye to spot the point of failure of the Premium AAA Duracell battery. The arrow points to the cavity where the casing failed at the bottom (negative pole), under the silver strip.

We Switch to Premium Batteries

Lately we have been using only the premium Duracells (red/gold, 10-yr guaranteed shelf life) since the EverReady batteries are no longer available through Sam’s Club (where we used to find the best price). Our hope was that by purchasing the higher-priced premium Duracells, we would experience a longer life and a reduced failure rate. So far we have no evidence that this will indeed be the case and, to date, the failure rate seems to be about the same as the regular Duracells.

As of this week we are stocking up on additional EverReady, Amazon, Ikea and Orchard Supply Hardware batteries to measure longevity. We will share our methodology and results in a future post.

And, while the comparison on battery failure rate will take longer to measure, the results will be more anecdotal since the sample size of our tests will be smaller and subject to individual team members’ actual usage and care patterns. We will share our experience in this regard as well with the caveat that it’s not possible to completely separate individual user habits from the failure rate experience.

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you’re asking yourself why we don’t use rechargeable batteries, that’s a good question. But we think the answer makes sense. It’s this: We’ll only be using these radios and flashlights in a real emergency – most likely, after a major earthquake. We expect all power to be out for an extended period, days if not weeks. As soon as our rechargeables are dead (and they don’t last as long as disposables, anyway), we’ll be stuck. We don’t want that to happen! (Yes, we DO have some solar chargers. That’s a topic for another Advisory!)

P.P.S. If you are interested in the results of our planned test, be sure to sign up below to get our weekly Advisories.

Ouch! What I found in my Survival Kit!


As a part of National Preparedness Month, we’re going to be staffing a table at a neighborhood preparedness faire. So I pulled out of my car the emergency kit I had first put together after my Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.

Outdated CERT gear

Don’t use these!

Look at the photo and you’ll see some of the yucky things I found!

* Corroded batteries in my flashlight! (Upper right arrow) The kit actually has two flashlights in it. One was the high-tech model (from Sharper Image, no less) that holds AA batteries. Look closely and you’ll see the totally blown-out end of one of them! We find that batteries need to be replaced every 6 months if they are in a light or radio.

* Dried up and useless first aid items! On the left in the photo you can see the shriveled up antiseptic wipes and the stained band aid packages. Although they had been stored in a plastic bag, not one of them was usable.

* Melted and leaking pens! CERT training reminds you to have a way to write on a door when you’ve searched the room, write on a piece of tape to label someone, or write right on their skin. We assembled a variety of writing implements for these purposes, including crayons and permanent markers. Again, stored in a plastic bag, they melted and leaked. I could hardly get that one crayon out to be able to photograph it!

What’s the state of your Survival Kit? How about your CERT bag? (These are two different things, of course. Survival Kit is to help you; CERT bag is to help others.) Consider setting up a schedule to update and refresh your kits.

Use the twice-a-year time Daylight Savings Time change as an update reminder.

In addition to replacing old items, here are a couple of other suggestions for keeping your kit ready for use:

1. Best battery solution. Store batteries in a bag taped to the flashlight or radio. Whereas they seem to deteriorate quickly when stored INSIDE the device, they keep much longer when stored separately.

2. Rubber gloves. Your CERT kit will have disposable nitrile gloves — the thin rubber kind that your doctor wears – for use in an accident. These gloves are very fragile; replace every six months.

3. Environment. Think about where the kit is kept. I keep my kits in the trunk of my car – where temperatures reach over 100 degrees. Obviously, crayons aren’t going to be happy in this environment.

4. Backpack. If your kit lies in direct sunlight (in your car, for example), the duffle bag or backpack material will deteriorate over time. The first to go on my CERT kit were the carrying straps.

5. Clothing. I have a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and hat in my kits. While they don’t deteriorate, a wash and fluff keeps them more usable.

Reviewing and updating your kit takes only a few minutes – less time than it has taken me to write this article! You’ve made the investment – be sure to keep it tuned up.

What have YOU found in unattended survival kits that we should be warned about?  Let us know in the comment box below!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Beside My Bed


Here in earthquake country the chances of “the Big One” hitting are greater every day. My particular concern is that it will happen at night, making things far more scary and dangerous. One thing I’ve done to set my mind at ease is to create a little emergency stash right next to the bed.

Bedside emergency stash

What’s missing?

My bedside chest has the space on top for a lamp, a couple of books, and an alarm clock. (These days, that’s my phone.) It also has a water bottle and my glasses. And whatever else gets piled there temporarily. Sound familiar?

In a real temblor, that table is likely to tip over and crash. The lamp will break, my glasses could break, and the phone will slip down and likely be lost, at least for a while, in whatever pile of stuff it lands in.

And all this will be in the pitch black!

As a simple precaution I have taken the time to pack, inside that same chest, just a few important items to carry me through the first minutes after the earthquake.

Here’s what I have so far:

* A pair of heavy shoes, and inside the shoes

* Socks

* Flashlight

* An extra pair of glasses in a hard case

At least I won’t be trapped, barefoot and blind, in the immediate aftermath!

I expect you could put together the same simple package beside your bed, too. I’m sure you’ll feel better once it’s done.

P.S. As I took this picture, I realized that I‘ve forgotten one simple thing in my bedside stash.  Gloves!  I’m putting them in right now!