“What if…?” Series Presents: the Battery

“What if…?” those worrisome words arrive in the conscious spinning topics in our minds, from safety and financial security, to loved ones and pet health.  Asking, “What can I do?” leads to a proactive decision to invest time in the ultimate insurance policy—valuable life skills pertaining to security, shelter, food, water, and medical care! In any emergency, from extreme weather to a personal disaster, you have the power to take charge of your fate by making plans and taking action!  

We all want to be well prepared when the lights go out! Beyond generators, solar panels, and hydroelectric concerns, thinking outside the box with the batteries we have on hand can light the way! 

How Batteries Work  

A, AA, AAA, C and D cell batteries have the same voltage rating and are interchangeable.  The power supply in each equal 1.5 volts. Three batteries powered together will total 4.5V; however, they differ in amperage; therefore, each produces a different number of watt-hours (Watts are voltage x amperage or the total amount of energy contained in the battery, explaining why batteries come in different sizes).

  • Always use a voltage meter to see how much power remains in your battery; don’t assume it’s dead. You’ll save money and batteries, replacing one instead of three or all six.  
  • Try this test:  Hold the battery roughly two inches above a hard surface and drop.  A dead battery will bounce higher than one fully charged.  This method won’t work for rechargeable batteries. 
  • Clean the connection points of a battery to improve conductivity! 
  • Do not place batteries into the refrigerator or freezer.  If a battery becomes too cold, condensation can occur, which leads to corroded battery ends, leakage, and other damage; instead, store at room temperature. 
  • Use the same brand-name batteries.  Mixing old with new can increase the strain on new batteries and result in an accelerated drain.  
  • Always remove the batteries when a mechanism is being powered by a plug-in source.  This will prevent an unnecessary loss of battery capacity. 

Hack Your C-Cell 

Sometimes the stash of batteries is depleted of the ones we need most.  Yes, you can use a C-cell battery in place of a D-cell with this handy trick.  Place four quarters into the space between the terminal and the contact!  (In cases of emergency, keep a small bag of quarters in your battery box! You’ll be glad you took the time!) 

Another hack is to tightly wad up tinfoil to fill the space of a C-cell battery.  Place it next to the flashlight’s lid! 

Hack a 9V Battery 

With a pair of needle-nose pliers, snip along the crease of the Energizer case and open.  You may need to use a screwdriver to help in the endeavor.  Contained inside are six quadruple or six AAAA batteries, each holding 1.5 volts. Remove the batteries and the metal tab which connects the batteries.  Since they are smaller than AAA batteries, fold over the sensor tab to provide extra space. You can do this for use in any device. 

Hack a Cordless Drill Battery 

Most drill batteries labeled as 18v use 21 volts; the first step is to convert to a standard voltage, such as 12v.  “Boost” or “Buck” converters make it easy to regulate energy to convert items from a light to an energy source.  (Need electrical know-how.) 

Solar, Batteries, and the Hand Crank 

Solar power blocks, radios and battery-based chargers are an inexpensive means to ensure your electronics remain powered.  Look for items that may have a multi-function option LED flashlight, radio, and multiple USB ports. 

  • Some models of crank-powered flashlights and camp lights can serve multiple functions, such as a flashlight and backup chargers! 
  • Flashlights are an inexpensive safety measure. Consider placing one in your vehicle; each bedroom; bathrooms; in drawers, such as those of nightstands and side tables; the kitchen; and near exits!   
  • Stick lights are an excellent item to have on hand, especially for children! 

The Emergency Exit Plan

A good plan only works well if it’s either discussed or practiced; so, sit down and talk about maneuvering through the home with and without a flashlight.  Start practicing today!  Children will recall the exercise, remembering the number of stairs and perhaps steps through rooms and descending stairwells.  It may seem simple until the lights go out!  Bonus points are given to those individuals who can locate their flashlight in seconds! 

Next Month:  Practicing Survival Skills 


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