When the power goes out, the first instinct is to light up some candles for easy illumination. (Many across California are doing that at the time of this writing in October 2019, when more than 2 million lost power ). It's a quick, easy way to light up the darkness, and provides a quaint, 19th-century vibe.
It's also one of the worst fire hazards and a major cause of death in a power outage.
"Candles are wonderful, but they tip over, and they can cause a fire,” says Jim Judge, EMT-P, CEM, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory. They also don’t provide strong light."
Keeping an open flame in a house is a bad idea. It's a worse idea in the dark, when candle holders can be easily tipped over. Really, the only reason for using a candle in a power outage is a lack of preparedness; LED-powered lights are very inexpensive and last for hours. If there are no other alternatives than candles available, then place them in a lantern to prevent them from tipping over and igniting curtains or a blanket.
Moreover, candles are a fire hazard to more than just you and your household.
People could tip the candles and start a fire in their homes,” said Cynthia Shaw, a Red Cross spokeswoman. “With the winds, that fire could spread to multiple homes very quickly.”
Like we said, LED-powered flashlights are a cheap alternative to candles. They are bright, reliable, and don't ignite anything. The only disadvantage to them is remembering to replace them with fresh batteries. Plus, they likely won't last through a multi-day blackout before they die.
Solar lights are an even better way to ride out a power outage. They provide up to 72 hours of light on low mode.
To get started with a solar light, we recommend the Sun King Pico. It is compact, has a 360-degree tilt, and provides five times as much luminosity as kerosene.
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