Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

Patrol Tip: Always Carry A Flashlight

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A small battery-operated flashlight consisting...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most important tools you can ever carry on duty, night or day, is a flashlight. In the old days, flashlights were larger and more cumbersome, but today’s flashlights can easily fit in one hand, and can be clipped onto a belt or inside your pants pocket comfortably. Remember, it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Whether you are a security guard on station, or community safety volunteer on patrol, you will come into situations where you need personal illumination. Unexpected power outages, entering into dim interiors from daylight, looking under vehicles or desks, etc, are all examples of when you might need extra light to be able to see. Some models of light even give you the option to use them for effective self-defense.

Qualities of a good flashlight:

  • Long battery life while in use
  • Powerful long-range beam (preferably 100 Lumens or stronger)
  • Weather proof
  • Shock/drop resistant
  • Sturdy metallic body
  • Uses LED “light-bulb”
  • Can be held and operated easily with one hand

Qualities of a bad flashlight:

  • Takes specialty batteries that are not available locally, or that take three weeks to arrive from over seas
  • Flimsy activation switch, or twist to turn on
  • Only stays on when button is pressed
  • Uses old-style bulbs (do not handle being dropped well)
  • Poor quality construction (plastic and thin aluminum do not resist accidental damage well)
  • Heavy/long bodies (large mag-lites are still good lights, but also present additional problems)

You can expect to pay $15-$25 for a good serviceable flashlight. DO NOT ENTRUST YOUR SAFETY TO A CHEAP FLASHLIGHT!

Two later articles, in the planning, will deal with using flashlights for self-defense, and tricks for seeing better in the dark.

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