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Why you need a keychain flashlight

If the lights go out for even a little while, the darkness isn't just scary. It's dangerous.

By Donna_Freedman Aug 26, 2011 10:34AM
A couple years ago I was walking home from the vampire movie "Daybreakers." It was just after sunset, which meant that I was spooked by every blackberry vine that moved in the breeze. Each time one waved at me, I jumped, absolutely certain that Sam Neill or one of the other bloodsuckers was making his move.

The gathering gloom spurred another thought: If there were a blackout and the streetlights went away, walking home would be even scarier.

Having a flashlight is the frugal thing to do, and not just to prevent frights in the night.

Let's start with the paranoid scenario from above. If I'd suddenly lost all illumination, it would have been mighty tough to get home safely. Sure, I could have shuffled along a few flat-footed inches at a time. Yet I might still have tripped over a rough spot in the path, or missed the curb when I reached a street crossing. A little fall can sometimes mean big bucks.

When I mentioned this to my dad, he produced an Inova BB-W Microlight, which comes with a clip that's perfect for attaching to a keychain. (He'd bought a whole bunch of them once. Dad's always thinking ahead.) The Inova weighs less than an ounce but provides a terrific amount of illumination.

I feel safer now. For years I've carried a small flashlight in my backpack, but sometimes I leave the house without the bag. My keys, however, are always with me.

Let there be light

You need a flashlight no matter where you are. Here's another example: Once there was a localized power outage while I was working at a newspaper. Enough daylight seeped into the newsroom that I wasn't worried about falling -- until it was time to go to the bathroom. Fortunately a co-worker had a small flashlight in her bag, so she led field trips to the ladies' room. Seriously: It was absolutely pitch black in there.
Currently I'm staying in a hostel in New York City. My roommates tend to ignore the lockers and leave their suitcases and shoes strewn hither and yon. When I come in late or when I have to get up in the middle of the night, I focus the keychain flashlight beam on the floor. This allows me to move around without fear of injury, and without turning on the overhead light.

The keychain light also came in handy last time I visited my dad. One moonless night I parked his truck next to the outbuildings before walking to the house. When I got close enough, a motion detector kicked on the outside lights. But the flashlight kept me from tripping over an irrigation riser on the way there.

Imagine a power outage while you're at work, or walking home from the convenience store, or coming down the stairs of your apartment building. Your cellphone light might get you to safety. But it might not.

For safety's sake, get a light for your keychain. The ankle you save may be your own.

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