Batteries are important to so many things we rely on as preppers, from flashlights to headlamps, weather radios, two-way radios, and even portable heaters, fans, and more. They’re even more critical for bug out bags and vehicle kits for the simple fact that these are the only batteries (and resources) you have to rely upon when you need them the most.
Of course, the only way to actually know if batteries are good or not is to check them regularly. While I do have my lists, I can’t say I’m perfect about checking them and can let things go too long. And, sadly, there’s Murphy’s law that says it things can go wrong they will. In fact, not long ago I went to grab a flashlight from my bug out bag that I keep in our vehicles and found that a battery had leaked and ruined my flashlight. I wasn’t happy at all because I LIKED that flashlight! And, worse, I couldn’t salvage it… in the trash it went.
And it’s not like I didn’t know better. I know batteries can and will leak in extreme heat and I usually keep batteries out of most of my equipment but my thinking was that if I needed a flashlight then I certainly did not want to be fussing around with inserting batteries and so choose to keep the batteries installed in this particular flashlight and without any trouble until recently. And, as luck would have it, these happened to be the only batteries in my bug out bag that leaked. 🙁
Obviously, I couldn’t have this problem again so I replaced the damaged flashlight and choose to keep the batteries OUT of the flashlight this time, but what to do about being able to insert them when I needed them? Well, I had two options: (1) get a dummy-proof flashlight where the batteries only go in one way or (2) include a very temporary light solution so that I can see well enough to insert the batteries. I choose option two because I happened to like the new flashlight I added to my bug out bag. The idea is to include a cyalume light stick or two with your flashlight and batteries so that you have enough light to see to insert the batteries properly. I opted to tape them all together so that I didn’t have to fumble with finding anything in the dark. That said, it’s equally possible the light sticks might not work when I need them to or that the batteries will leak even being out of my flashlight but these are the chances I’ll have to take.
But, this problem got me to thinking that batteries really do wear out especially when subject to extremes like those in my car, which sits outside in the sweltering Midwest heat and freezing winters… neither of which are very good for batteries. So, I thought to myself, “self, maybe I really need a more rigorous approach to replacing critical batteries?” This is something more than just replacing them if they wear out or by their expiration date. I’m thinking that maybe I need to replace such batteries like it or not each or or perhaps twice a year? After all, it’s not like I have hundreds of batteries in my bug out bags so I could probably afford to do this without too much trouble. And, besides, any batteries that I find still useful could certainly be put to use inside the home, in remotes and my kids’ toys.
I should say that there’s more to this than just common alkaline batteries too. There are certainly proprietary batteries that might be found in equipment like two-way radios, funny watch style batteries for things like headlamps, and larger batteries such as deep cycle batteries. None of these will last forever. So, the question is what schedule are you keeping to ensure these batteries will be there when you really need them?