Best Batteries for Emergency Preparedness

Every household should have an emergency preparedness kit.

In the event of a natural disaster or power outage, it’s essential that you have everything your family needs to stay warm, fed, healthy, comfortable, and most importantly, alive. 

That means you should definitely be thinking about what your household needs in your emergency kit. Batteries are one thing that should definitely be considered essential. We’re here to help you choose the best batteries for emergency preparedness.

Power Your Devices

Your emergency preparedness supplies should include some obvious things like blankets, a first aid kit, nonperishable food and a stockpile of clean water. But you’ll also need devices that supply light, heat, communication and power. The exact contents of your emergency kit may vary depending on a wide variety of factors, but it will almost certainly include some devices that require batteries. 

Know What You’re Preparing For

It’s important to really think about what types of natural or man-made disasters you may be preparing for, and stockpile supplies accordingly. A power outage is a common scenario almost anywhere, but where you live will have a major impact on what you need to prepare for. 

If you live in a region prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or wildfires, then you have a pretty good idea of where you should start. Climate is another key consideration; extreme heat or freezing cold could be part of what you need to prepare for depending on what part of the country you call home.

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Battery Types and Sizes

As you know, batteries come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, with different types of batteries being used for different devices. The most important thing to remember is that every battery-powered device in your emergency preparedness kit will be of no use to you unless you also have the corresponding batteries. 

Some of the most common battery sizes to include in your emergency kit include:

• AA Batteries

Arguably the most commonly used battery size, AA batteries are essential in an emergency kit because they are so versatile. They are used in many flashlights, along with some emergency radios, portable fans, remotes and emergency phone chargers. A major advantage is that AA batteries are affordable and widely available.

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• AAA Batteries

Similar to AA Batteries but smaller in size, AAA batteries are typically used in smaller devices like pocket flashlights and headlamps, which require the same voltage but have lower current draw. Much like AA batteries, AAA’s are very handy in an emergency and are also easy to find.

• C and D Batteries

Larger and heavier than AA and AAA batteries, C and D batteries are typically used to power larger devices. Flashlights and radios that use these batteries are typically bulkier, but also more powerful.

• Button or Coin Cell Batteries

Available in various sizes, coin or button cell batteries are handy because they are small and easy to carry, and also last a long time in appropriate devices. They are widely used in watches, hearing aids, calculators and key fobs.

• 9 Volt Batteries

Chances are, you most often use 9V batteries in your smoke detectors. They are also compatible with many walkie-talkies, transistor radios, medical devices, LCD displays and small portable appliances, making them very useful in an emergency.

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• 6V or 12V Lead Acid Batteries

Used to provide long-term power to devices that require more electricity, 9V and 12V batteries are often used for golf carts, wheelchairs, high-powered lighting systems and RVs. They are also good backup power sources, and 6v or 12v sealed lead acid batteries can power a wide range of things, especially when paired with an inverter. 

Look at the devicess you need to power, and choose any or all of the above batteries that you may need. When possible, it’s always a good idea to choose devices that use the same size battery. That makes stockpiling batteries easier and reduces the number of different types and sizes of batteries you need to have handy. 

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Primary vs. Secondary (i.e. Non-Rechargeable vs. Rechargeable)

When stocking your emergency kit with batteries, one of the most important choices is between primary and secondary batteries. Primary batteries, also known as disposable or single-use batteries, are meant to be used once and then thrown away. Secondary or rechargeable batteries can be recharged and used over and over again.

Rechargeable batteries are excellent for many things, and are considerably more efficient for everyday use. Having said that, single-use batteries are generally considered to be more useful in an emergency. 

There’s a simple reason for that: rechargeable batteries can only be recharged if you have electricity. If your power is out, they might as well be single-use batteries. 

Most rechargeable batteries also have a higher self-discharge rate than non-rechargeable batteries, so they don’t stay charged as long. Even really high-quality secondary batteries like Powerex Low Self-Discharge Batteries typically fall to about 85% after one year of storage, whereas primary batteries often have a shelf life of 7 years or more. 

Alkaline vs. Lithium

If you’ve chosen single-use batteries, you still have numerous different types of batteries to choose from. Alkaline batteries and non-rechargeable lithium batteries are two of the most common, and although alkaline batteries are more affordable, lithium batteries have several advantages that make them preferable in an emergency. 

The top factor is shelf life. Lithium batteries commonly outlast alkaline batteries by a margin of 2-to-1 when properly stored. They often work well after 10 or even 20 years of storage. Lithium batteries are also less prone to leakage and corrosion than traditional alkaline batteries. 

Emergency Battery Storage

Once you’ve chosen all the batteries you need for your emergency preparedness kit, the next important consideration is how you store them. Like most emergency supplies, they will last longer if they are kept in a cool, dry place away from moisture and extremes of temperature. 

The best option for most batteries is to keep them in their original packaging, inside zipper bags. This will prevent loose batteries from coming into contact with each other, and also make selecting the correct battery quick and easy when the time comes. Mark the date of purchase on each package so you know how old the batteries are, and never store fresh batteries together with partially used batteries.

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