After seeing news reports about Hurricane Sandy and hearing the ordeal that all of my family and friends in New York and New Jersey went through, it got me thinking about my own emergency preparedness. San Francisco - after all - sits atop some very active fault lines. As local geology fans always like to point out - statistically speaking - we are long overdue for a large quake.
This forecast is bad news for me, because I don't think that I am very prepared. I might have a few gallons of bottled water in the back closet, but I was ordered not to look in there until after Christmas... so... I am really not sure. Hopefully we will not have an earthquake before then. Anyhow, in the meantime, I have no real emergency supplies to speak of.
I have been thinking a lot lately about being more prepared, and what supplies we should have on hand for when the 'big one' hits. After prioritizing the three most obvious things to have in a severe emergency - water, food, and a fair-sized crowbar - it came down to figuring out what else one needs to survive. It did not take me very long to conclude this item was electric lighting. I use that all the time. How can I live without that?
After assessing the problem, it became apparent to me that after a few days of constant lighting, all of my batteries will be dead. This means that either I need rechargeable batteries, or a way to generate electricity without them. Not needing batteries to begin with seemed most sensible to me. I explored different options and finally figured out a low-cost, long-term, and portable, method to keep my electric candles lit. I am going to use heat generated by tea lights. The nice thing about this solution is that they are dirt cheap, small, and will last forever. You can buy about 1,000,000 tea lights at Ikea for $1.99. With a fair-sized stock of small candles, I can keep my electric candle lit indefinitely. Thanks to my candle-powered electric candle, I know that I will never be left in the dark.
Do not leave this contraption unattended. Always have a fire extinguisher on-hand. This is probably less than ideal for normal day-to-day use.