One of the funniest memories I have of my son is when he was in the first grade he had accumulated (of all things) a collection of dead batteries!
Every kid always packs their dearest treasures to school for “Show and Tell.” No matter how we coerced or cajoled, he insisted on taking his entire collection to school. (I guess he thought the other kids would get a charge out of his battery collection.) At the end of the day, his mother was prepared to offer encouragement and comfort as she was certain he would endure the worst manner of ridicule at the hands of his classmates. “You were wrong!” he exclaimed, “They loved it!”
Every disaster preparedness list shows the need to stock up on batteries. Whether it’s a tree down across a power line, or widespread regional destruction, the first thing to go is usually the electricity. Then your priority is to re-establish lighting. Batteries are like duct tape and nylon zip ties, you can never have too many.
Raising two grandsons puts a constant drain on my battery supply, but I know what to keep in stock and I make sure my battery inventory stays charged up. (Sorry.) While some folks still rely on candles, hurricane lanterns and the occasional Aladdin lantern, F.E.M.A. and the Red Cross both urge the use of battery powered lighting to minimize fire danger.
Check your battery inventory, whether AAAs, AAs, Cs, Ds or 9-volt, you should have a good stock of the various sizes on hand. Especially if you have kids in the house and they frequently need to resupply the remote control unit on their radio controlled dune buggy.
Somewhere I heard that you can slow the discharge rate of stored batteries by placing them in the freezer. The following is reportedly the results of a study conducted by Consumer Report:s “Consumer Reports magazine took exactly 432 AA, C and D batteries. They stored some in the refrigerator, and some at room temperatures. At the end of five years they found that indeed the refrigerated batteries had more charge, but not by much. The room temperature batteries still had 96 percent of the charge of the refrigerated ones.”
Duracell says: “Do not refrigerate DURACELL Batteries. This will not make them last longer. Most DURACELL Batteries will provide dependable long life even after 5 years of storage in these conditions.”
And finally Energizer says: “Storing batteries in refrigerators or freezers is not required or recommended for batteries produced today. In fact, cold temperature storage can harm batteries. To maximize performance and shelf life, store batteries at normal room temperatures with moderate humidity levels.”
Lots of folks are turning to rechargeable batteries. While they are a bit more expensive to start with, you can extend your investment by adding a solar charger and then if the power is out for a lengthy period, you’re set.
So before there’s a power outage, pick up a few new batteries, maybe a rechargeable lantern if you find one on sale and you’re set for that winter storm.
One word of caution about rechargeable gear. Those batteries need exercise. If you take it home and plug it in and and leave it for a long period, it will ruin the battery. Then when you need it, it won’t work. I have learned this the hard way, having replaced the batteries in three pieces of rechargeable gear.
As always send your comments and questions to email@example.com. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us.”