We live in one of the darkest areas in the lower 48, there are even laws on the books pertaining to outdoor lighting to prevent potential light pollution for our local observatory. One of the things that are a must have item are flashlights, I keep one or two in my truck at all times, I prefer two but one is usually being used to get me up and down the hill in the dark.
When we have family and friends over, I try to have enough flashlights to go around for everyone to use, and because we actually USE our flashlights, they are often in varying states of power, some being brighter than others. In practice, I have come up with a list of flashlight etiquette.
- Do not shine a flashlight in anyone’s face, it is rude, it will blind the person and affect their night vision for quite some time. Shine your light down as much as you can instead of up. If you must shine it at a person, shine it well below their face so they aren’t blinded by the light, this also includes dogs, cats or other animals, they don’t want to be blinded either.
- Try to have enough flashlights for everyone, or at least one for every 2-3 people.
- If you don’t have enough to go around, be sure to give them to those who would be most experienced with them, those old enough to be able to help illuminate the path for someone else.
- Be sure to give the brightest flashlight to the one who needs it the most, it’s up to you to decide who that might be.
- If you are walking with other people and your light happens to be brighter than theirs, keep your light away from them, their eyes will grow accustomed to the brightness of their light, if you shine your brighter light around them, you will overcome their light and they will have a harder time using their dimmer light while their eyes re-adjust to their amount of light. If they ask you to light something for them, then go ahead, but don’t just shine your brighter light in front of them.
- If you are in a situation where there aren’t enough flashlights to go around and you are holding the flashlight, walk behind or beside the person without a flashlight but shine your light around them or in front of them, you don’t want to walk behind someone and shine the light on their back, that casts a shadow directly in front of them, making it even harder for them to see the path.
- Instead of turning your light off and on as you need it, if you only need to turn it off for a short time then right back on, try covering it with your hand or pushing it up against your shirt or pants, that helps extend the life of the light and the switch.
- Before turning on your flashlight at night, cover the light end first, that way you can slowly bring the light up by uncovering it, and if you have one of the new multi-function lights that has the blinking or flashing function, sometimes that can come on the first switch and you don’t want a strobe effect when you first turn it on. By covering it first, if it does start to strobe, you can make it stop without blinding or annoying others or yourself.
- When I walk up and down my hill at night, I will often cover part of the light with my fingers so the light is slightly dimmed, I point it on the ground in front of my feet. Keeping the light dimmed this way allows me to keep my night vision in better shape and if I need to see something better, I just need to uncover the light. I don’t have people camping around me, but if you are in a camping or hiking situation with other people around, keeping your light dimmed is a courtesy to everyone else.
- If you are in a camping situation, don’t shine your light toward other people’s vehicles, campers or tents at night, it’s disruptive, rude and might get you hurt if you offend the wrong camper.
- The main rule though is never shine your light in someone’s face, it’s really an easy thing to accidentally do, but keep your light pointed at the ground as much as possible.
I’m sure there are other tips and pointers, if you have some, let me know in the comments below :)
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