Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weather Prep #2: Wind-Up Flashights, Radios

Power outages tend to drag on, which can be a drain on battery supplies. Here are some wind-up items I keep handy — they do double duty as environmentally friendly options and as good fallbacks in case one doesn’t have (or would prefer not to use) batteries. The Dynamo Illuminator small LED flashlight (right) has the easiest and sturdiest crank of the wind-up gadgets I’ve tried. It offers two brightness settings (one bulb or three bulbs) and holds a decent charge when not in use. I got mine at Walgreens for less than $10; affordable models are also available at Amazon by searching “wind-up flashlight” (consider using the Nonprofit Shopping Mall link, which also generates a free-to-you contribution to your favorite charity).

I’m a big fan of Éton/Grundig wind-up radios. The basic model (FR-200) has AM, FM, and shortwave bands; operates for almost an hour on less than a minute of cranking; and holds a charge for long periods of inactivity. Other models offer weather bands and TV audio instead of shortwave; some also include a cell phone charger port. (For cell phone charging also see my previous weather post.) You can find a nice selection at Amazon (which happily is accessible via Nonprofit Shopping Mall); or at the online NPR Shop, which benefits public radio. If you live in the UK: our friends at Ethical Superstore also sell most items on this page.

We have several little battery lanterns at home, but Freeplay’s pricier option gives long-lasting light completely by crank-power. I found this lantern’s crank mechanism the least user-friendly of the three, but if you live in an area vulnerable to severe weather and protracted power outages, it might be a wise choice. I got ours at REI (which also offers an annual rebate if one joins their co-op). Just generally, camping stores offer a variety of power-outage friendly goods.

Today’s mitzvah: Consider doing a supply audit to make sure your family is prepared for a weather emergency or protracted power outage.

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Emily said...

This is all good advice. I finally got an Eton hand-cranker through NPR not too long ago, and have taken it on several camping trips. The weather stations are extremely helpful! I love the thing.

In a fit of what is probably both paranoia and good preparedness, I'm working on putting together an emergency kit: the radio, and then I need to get one of those hand-cranked lanterns, plus other supplies for just-in-case scenarios. With the recent flooding and other severe weather, now more than ever it seems like a good investment.

jen x said...


I finally started keeping a grab and go "tornado bag" by the door: a day pack with stuff for the trips to the basement when the sirens go off (we're on a high floor in a big building, so it's a schlep to get downstairs). But now that I'm seeing how long it can take to get power back on -- family members in Indiana were recently without power for a week, just from storms -- I've also added some extra stuff in the apartment in case we had to hang for a longer period sans electricity. With the floods coming on the heels of such a bad winter -- ugh, climate change comes to Wisconsin :-(

P.S. -- I'm so glad to hear you like the Eton radio!