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Thread: light stick colors?

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Question light stick colors?

    Taking the advice given in the “low tech signaling devices” thread, I looked into getting some light sticks to add to my survival kit. I really like the idea of attaching one to the end of a string and swinging to form a signal-circle.

    I found that I could purchase light sticks in 3 different colors. Red, Yellow, and Orange. Can anyone tell me if there is any representation code that these individual colors are to be used for?

    Thanks, Buck

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Red face Anyone?

    Does anyone have anything for me? And how long do they last? How flexible are they before they activate?

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    I don't know, or at least I've never heard, that there's an established code for light stick colors. Now, I wouldn't consider them too flexible- they have a glass tube inside, that when it breaks, they light up. Most light sticks last from 6 hours (for the 6-inch ones), to 12 (for the 9-inch ones).

    Also, you can get different types that put out different amounts of light. In my experience, though, they can be good for map reading, etc. but aren't very visible over longer distances, regardless of color.
    Χάρις υμίν καί είρήνη άπό θεου...

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    Default Light Sticks

    I am not certain about the signaling potential of light sticks, as even the most vivid colors (chartreuse) aren't that bright. The red and orange are good for map reading, since those colors don't hinder your night vision as much. Blue would be best if you are tracking game, as the blue highlights the red blood. As the temperatures drop below freezing the light sticks become nearly ineffective as a light source or, I would assume, as a signaling device. I use them--and have seen them used--primarily for marking things; i.e. marking a kill sight if you have to return to after dark to retrieve gear, announcing your tent on the vast tundra, or highlighting hazards like barbed wire.

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    Default light sticks

    I ran across this site that speaks a bit to the usefulness of light sticks as a rescue/survival resource; http://www.emergencyresources.com/ . Just a couple of reminders, however: 1) The Coast Guard does not recommend any particular brand of safety equipment (Approvals are not the same as recommendations, an approval simply means a particular product has met certain standards of performance/manufacture). 2) Any light source on a dark night can easily be seen at a distance with a rescuers night vision goggles, obviously the bigger and brighter, the easier and further away it can be seen. I do personally recommend a light source for a survival kit, I happen to carry an LED flashlight, cyalume lightsticks and a Greatland laser. Not alot of space or weight, but lots of "peace of mind"...your choice! Mike

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    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Thanks Mike!

    Thanks Mike! I knew you'd see this thread sooner or later! Always a great resource.

    Mtn Wx - The signaling technique that intrigued me was posted by Toddler in the "Low-tech Signaling Devices" thread. I haven't tried it, but have faith in it's reasoning, so I will try it. I have never experimented with lightsticks before and this will be a first for me. I am a bit concerned that I will not be as fragile as needed to protect the glass tube from breaking

    Posted by Toddler...
    RJC
    As a Search And Rescue Pilot (Navy) – the most effective/longest range signaling devise is a mirror. Up to 50 miles on a sunny day! If you learn to use it right there is not a pilot in the world that will not notice it. It is like a piece of the sun flashing back and forth across your face. For night time a green chem-stick on a 4’ section of 550 cord. Spin it in a circular motion over your head. Try these items yourself. During the day get a partner to go to an opposing ridge line or a tall building and flash you with the mirror. With the chem-stick (Buzzsaw) get a couple of miles down a dark road and see how much they stand out from the normal little lights you sometimes see on the countryside.

    Just my $0.02

    Drew

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default Light sticks

    Although I carry light sticks in all my kits and have found them useful on many occasions I have always felt bad about the disposal problem. They are not recyclable. Plus, I am sure you have all seen used sticks washed up on many of our beaches.

    I have found an alternative in the battery-powered version http://www.theglowcompany.co.uk/acat...LL_LIGHTS.html There is a high initial acquisition cost but they do not have to be periodically replaced like the chemical light sticks do. They are not really the perfect solution to the disposal problem either because of the heavy metals in the used batteries. But, in many respects they are far superior to the chemical sticks. I especially like that they can be turned on and off at will.

    Dan

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    Lightsticks can only take so much abuse before they are not usable. Even if you protect them from bending the glass tube that holds one of the chemical components can break at about 1g of force and is free floating, so dropping them can activate the lightstick.

    They use hydrogen peroxide, some colored dyes and a chemical that reacts to the peroxide to make the light. All of the chemicals are non-toxic, but the dyes are very strong and will stain almost anything they touch permanently. They are actually somewhat recyclable. The glass tube can be recycled and the chemicals can be safely deposed of. A few companies even sell chemlum kits that contain everything to make your own reusable lightsticks. The chemicals can be kind of spendy, and can mostly only be purchased in bulk unless you buy a new kit, but they can be safely disposed of.
    Chris Willhoite

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    Red white and blue at lowes right now starting at .49 for blue great price to stock up with .

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    Default Chem Lights

    Myself being in the military, if I were injured or lost and wanted to be found, I would tie some 550 cord to a RED chemlight and swing it in a circle. To me, Red means Stop. Green means Go or "all ok". If I see someone swinging a red light, I'm gonna investigate. I have a small strobe light i keep on my ATV for night signaling. I haven't put a mirror in the bag yet. I guess that'll be next when I get back from the deployment.

    Just my .02 cents worth

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    Cut one open and put a drop in the water it gives lots of light.

    Try it in your toilet then flush watch what happens.

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    One thing to think about with chem lights. If military air crews i.e Coast Guard are looking for you at night they will be wearing night vision goggles and green chem lights do not show up. Red on the other hand can be picked up like nobodies business.

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    Default Useful-some of the time

    Chem lights would be most useful as a signalling device in the fall and spring time in Alaska, but I'm not so sure they're helpful in the summer or winter. During the summer when the days are very long I would say they have limited usefulness because they are only visible during the few short hours of darkness we get. And in winter, I've found that chem lights are useless at 5 decrease and below-they simply do not light up very brightly.

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    Member Sapper 2-6's Avatar
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    I don't know if they sell them, but in addition to the red chem light try to find an IR chem light. Pilots can see those easily at night with their NVGs. Thats what we use to mark the PZ with at night and use the buzzsaw to land the birds.

    out

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    The chemical reaction that produces the light (chemoluminescence) is a temperature sensitive reaction. As many have pointed out, the light output is small at low temperatures. So, more light at higher temperatures. If you have a way to warm the tubes, light output will be maximized. They can be warmed by body heat or immersed in hot water. Downside is that this approach is problematic if one is sick or injured and body heat is at a premium, or conditions inhibit fire making.

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    there's a problem with IR chem lights. They can only be seen under NVG's. That's a plus while conducting tactical operations but a very serious minus during a survival situation. Something to think about

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    Not sure where to buy them but there are high intensity chem lights too, most often in Orange, they are the brightest ones and they don't last long. Long a go I used some real large chem lights like baton size but that was at work and I don't know how much they cost but I imagine they were not cheap.

    I like to take a couple of orange ones and a few blue, usually I use them to mark a trail or where I lay things down more often than for survival purposes.

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