Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Chem Lights, "Glow Sticks" and the like

One of my favorite disaster (and non-disaster) items is the "chem light" or "glow stick"
A glow stick is a self-contained, short-term light-source. It consists of a translucent plastic tube containing isolated substances that, when combined, make light through chemiluminescence, so it does not require an external energy source. The light cannot be turned off, and can be used only once. Glow sticks are often used for recreation, but may also be relied upon for light during military, police, fire, or EMS operations.
Several US patents for "glow stick" type devices were received by various inventors. Most of these are assigned to the US Navy.
Glow sticks are used for many purposes. They are waterproof, do not use batteries, generate negligible heat, are inexpensive, and are reasonably disposable. They can tolerate high pressures, such as those found underwater. They are used as light sources and light markers by military forces, campers, and recreational divers. Glow sticks are considered the only light source that is safe for use immediately following any catastrophic emergency.
Live in a multistory building and need to provide light in stairwells when the power goes off? Chem lights are great for that.

Need to mark the position of injured or trapped people so rescue teams can find them more easily? Chem lights are great for that.

Need to mark a hazard to warn people away? Chem lights are great for that.

Need to have light source that will not ignite gas or other other flammable materials? Chem lights are great for that.

Cyalume Technologies, a manufacturer of chem lights offers this:
Safety is a necessity for work, travel or rest. Safety depends on risk reduction. Danger is often revealed in an unexpected instant – therefore preparation is the key. Safe lighting is taken for granted until it is not there. There is a higher standard at work to adequately set the stage for safety in commerce. Cyalume builds portable lighting to this higher standard by involving employees and customers in the development of solutions that work reliably in any emergency circumstance.

The most unique advantage of Cyalume chemical light products is their ability to remain operational for years, free of any dependency on batteries or electrical connections. Additional advantages include operation without spark or flame, and without oxygen consumption. Such rock solid reliability and safety in a self contained system enables the application of Cyalume technology in many demanding circumstances, where risk reduction can make a major difference in commercial operations affecting large numbers of people

Developed for the Military, Cyalume SnapLights are now tested, proven, and recommended for:

- Utilities: Reliable, Flameless, Waterproof lights to get the job done - indoors and out
- Hotels: Evacuation lights, room and hallway lighting during power outages
- Businesses: Work lighting during power outages, evacuation lights
(emphasis added)
Which points out that it is a good idea to pack a few of these sticks in you luggage when on a trip and you are staying in a hotel along the way. You just never know. I keep several in our cars at all times.

It's not clear whether TSA will allow you to carry a couple of sticks in your carry on as part of your "liquids" pack. If you attempt it, I would suggest keeping them in their original package and letting the TSA agent know you've got them. If not allowed, you may be out a couple of bucks. Would be nice to have under many scenarios I can imagine . . .

You can buy these things from Amazon, Walmart and many other places.

If you need a handy way to store these things, a good idea from Cyalume:
The Cyalume LightStation Model 20 includes 40 yellow chemical Snaplight light sticks measuring 10" long, for providing instant 360 degree illumination, that can be seen up to a mile away for up to four hours in optimal conditions. The LightStation is housed in a red, fire-resistant case with a luminescent label for use in the dark. When the front cover is pulled open, one light stick automatically activates upon opening, and the 39 additional sticks can be handed out and activated by individuals for use in an emergency.
$68 at Amazon.

I prefer longer lived sticks (12 hour) but 4 hours is enough for most emergency purposes.


  1. I just got the new rechargeable LED MagLite, that will run for 25 hours om HIGH, and over 100 on LOW. Recharges in 2.5 hrs. I can recharge it off of my 12V car starter box, which can be topped off with a Solar Charger.

  2. Anonymous12:25 PM

    An addition to the list of uses, Second Division's innovation: cut the ends off and pour the contents onto your hair, amaze everyone in Weapons Department (not to mention the folks on the other end of the RAS highline).


  3. I got emergency lanterns of LED type along with spare batteries, and a small solar powered lamp. As a diver I have been using Cylume sticks for years, now will get some for home also.
    Your disaster prep series is GREAT, keep up the good work

  4. Catchum big fish at night with the red ones. :)