When the sky darkens with the onrush of a hurricane, or the earth itself is wrenched by an earthquake’s seismic forces, you’ll congratulate yourself if your emergency preparedness kit included night vision goggles.
Though seldom mentioned by experts, being able to see in the dark is a priceless tool for keeping you and your family safe, sound, and alive in times of crisis. In that situation, any edge you can give yourself helps, and night vision is a major aid.
Most writers of emergency disaster preparedness plans overlook NV devices. They shouldn’t, though, given that these are highly proactive tools for greatly improving your chances of coming through the danger unharmed.
The Night Owl Optics iGen 20/20 Day/Night Vision Monocular is a great example of an all-in-one device that gives you immense low-light functionality, but remains compact and portable, operates on batteries, and is very easy to use, enabling you to focus on the situation rather than fiddling with controls and settings. You can read my review of this superb device for more details.
Why Night Vision Helps in an Emergency
Making night vision goggles part of your emergency response kit is an excellent idea because electricity usually fails first when disaster strikes. Hurricane, tornado, or blizzard winds can easily snap electrical wires. Earthquakes and wildfires likewise sever the electrical supply in their own fashion. And sometimes utility companies shutdown power purely as a precaution in a threatening situation.
Though the outdoors are dark only in nighttime (other than under a rare volcanic pall), caves, bunkers, and large building interiors are darkened when the power is out.
And night vision has unique advantages for your disaster preparedness plan relative to a flashlight. Night vision devices give a much wider, deeper field of view than a flashlight beam – the whole landscape, in fact. They can also be used without betraying your position. When looters are prowling in a city, remaining unseen while being able to spot them quickly gives you a huge survival advantage.
You are also put on an equal footing with dangerous animals such as cougar, grizzly bears, and other nocturnal creatures that naturally have superior vision to us.
Movement, Search and Rescue
Making night vision goggles part of your survival kit does much more than let you look around without pinpointing your position. You can navigate and move much more quickly if you clearly see landmarks and obstacles long before you reach them. Searching for people and things is also greatly aided by this handy technology.
To think of just one example, consider if the only road to your home was cut off by a rapidly advancing forest fire. If you are forced to flee through the woods at night, having no clear view ahead could cause you to get tangled up or lost, and thus be overtaken by the blaze. Night vision equipment reveals the terrain clearly, enabling you to move fast and escape in plenty of time.
Finding family members in a darkened house is much faster if you can see the whole room and not just a narrow section lit by a flashlight. Using a tool like the Night Owl Optics iGen 20/20, you can move quickly to the rooms of kids or elderly relatives to rouse them and get them out of a dangerous situation.
Pet rescue is also important – finding a beloved dog or cat in a black interior is nightmarish, but with night vision you can spot them and retrieve them in a few moments.
Search and rescue (SAR) teams and firefighters use night vision goggles frequently to help find people and navigate through darkened interiors. These emergency essentials can give you the same advantage, plus help you avoid hazards. With night vision, you can immediately see pits in the floor or ground, broken glass, severed electric wires, dangerous animals, and other perils.
Beyond these urgent needs, night vision goggles offer a lot of comfort and security when you’re isolated in an emergency situation. Humans are visual creatures, and you’ll be calmer and more confident if you can see through the night or in dark interiors, rather than being engulfed in yawning blackness. Night vision equipment, in short, offers a strong practical and psychological boost which contributes to your safety when the lights are out and the chips are down.
Choosing the Best Emergency Device
My personal favorite is the Night Owl Optics iGen 20/20. Read my review and you’ll know why. It is an easy to use and very powerful item to put on your emergency preparedness kit checklist. I have it in mine.
If you’d prefer an entry-level night vision device, you could try the NOXM50 Monocular instead, which I have also reviewed. Though not as effective as the iGen 20/20, it still offers most of what you need to make it a key part of your emergency action plan – and keep your family safe.