Trapped in a Dark Basement

…Don’t Let This Happen to You!

If this helps just one other person to never go through this, then it was all worth it….

“For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.”

Psalm 22

It was late at night. I was making potpourri out of some old tea and needed a small glass jar to put it in. I keep my collection of jars in the basement, which is not merely unfinished-it was completely gutted during mold remediation and has yet to be put back together. I figured I’d go down there and it would take about a minute to get the jar I wanted. I was rummaging through the jars, frustrated because I could not find the one I wanted, and… all the lights went out. My first thought was, “Seriously? No problem, I’m a prepper, I can totally do this.” I wasn’t nervous until I realized I was lost in a cluttered, dangerous basement with no light. There are a few small windows, but I was nowhere near them and no light was coming in anyway, because the street lamps were out too.

It is hard to conceive of zero light if you’ve never experienced it. Usually, there’s some light. Total darkness feels claustrophobic, like you’re wrapped in a big black blanket. It is terrifying when there is no difference between closing your eyes and opening them. It doesn’t take long to become disoriented and begin to panic. The brain seems to compensate by constructing its own reality. This is probably a survival mechanism, but one that was not working well for me. I decided to keep feeling in one direction along the wall and eventually I should recognize something and know where I was. But my brain continued to construct a false reality, telling me I was in a certain area even though it made no sense. I felt helpless. I yelled to my husband but he couldn’t hear me because he was in bed all the way upstairs with the door shut. My dog was no use either. After about ten minutes, the lights came back on. I was not at all where I thought I was. I had walked right past the stairs and didn’t realize it. My perception of space had been altered without the sense of sight. After running back up the stairs, I thanked God for getting me out of there and then curled up on the couch and ate a pint of chocolate ice cream.

What should I have done? When things weren’t making sense, I should have been willing to break out of the comfort zone my brain was creating and see other possibilities. I should also have kept a flashlight on my person, one I knew was working well…or a well-charged cellphone. A situation like this could quickly become life and death in something like a flood, fire, earthquake, etc. Basements are particularly dangerous in floods due to the risk of electrocution. Not being able to find your way out could be that much worse if you are hurt or with a child or elderly person.

I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe God sent me this experience so I could learn from it and help prevent it from happening to others (because this is so important, see more just below-its a bit funny too :wink:)…


Here are 10 lessons to think about:

  1. Don’t make potpourri in the middle of the night. You should be sleeping. Like a normal person.

  2. Maybe its time to get all that random junk out of the basement. Maybe its time to do something about the dangling electrical wires and the big hole in the floor. Not to mention the poison arrow from the Philippines you bought at a flea market somewhere in New Jersey 23 years ago (well, that old hippie said it was a poison arrow).

  3. Flashlights are good. The more, the better. Batteries are good too.

  4. Dependence on electricity was a mistake.

  5. If your basement or attic is as bad as mine, don’t venture into it without full survival gear: bug-out bag, camo pants and a gun.

  6. Maybe its time to buy “The Best Hyperdimensional To Rule Them All Night Vision Goggles In Steampunk Style” for $2,500.00 from Hammacher Schlemmer (they seem to think rich survivalist nerds is a demographic).

  7. We navigate in darkness. This experience could be a metaphor for life itself. It could certainly be a metaphor for our current world situation. The fact is, I was never really trapped at all. Only in my mind.

  8. Don’t panic. Your guardian angel and all of Heaven is always with you. You are NEVER alone and the Holy Ghost will always enlighten you. Our Mother Mary will always comfort you. Trust in God.

  9. Practice meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, etc. I’m not talking about new age garbage or anything that contradicts the Catholic Faith. I’m talking about techniques that help you calm down and focus. I have used these techniques myself very successfully, such as when I get nervous flying.

  10. “Freak” situations can happen. That doesn’t mean being constantly nervous about danger, but it does mean having a general awareness of potential dangers and being prepared for them.


You can do flashlights one better: Get yourself one of these super-bright LED lanterns, the light of which can be seen outdoors from great distances. Have it handy nearby when the lights go out, so you can pick it up instantly. And if you go down to the basement, carry it with you, just in case.

We have several of those bright LED lanterns, because we get power outages here quite frequently. We have at least one lantern on every floor, including our daylight basement.

We get that Hammacher Schlemmer catalog regularly in the mail, for some weird reason, because we never order anything from them, and aren’t the least interested in their stuff.

Maybe it’s because hubby was in the Marine Corp. Don’t know why it showed up one day in our mailbox and has been coming ever since.

Go nowhere without your cell phone.
You would be surprised at how much light the home screen gives off.


just keep a can opener with you.

If you get trapped like this, simply run it and wait for the cat to show up, with those eyes that somehow reflect even no light in defiance of the laws of Physics . . .


Great suggestion. I actually have those. But in the situation I described, you will need to keep it right next to you.

Its always fun to look at. They do have some good stuff but it tends to be pricey.

And many smartphones have flashlights, however, I am souring on them for many reasons which is a discussion for another day!

LOL!!! But I don’t have a cat.

That’s OK, now that you’ve said it, they will know . . .

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Plug-in rechargeable flashlight. Energizer makes a cheap one but sufficient. At that price you can get several, one for each dark room at home. There are fancier models if you want to pay more.

They sit quietly, parked in the electrical outlet, until you need them.

Also doubles as a nightlight if you turn the switch to low power. (You probably have a nightlight in the basement or other windowless room, correct?)

When the power goes it, its battery keeps up to 15-20 hours of light.

Clutter, they don’t help with that. :wink:

P.S. … ice cream melts with no power. You did what had to be done. :smiley:

Wow! I love this product! TY so much. I now consider it a prepper necessity. For my purpose in that story, it would have needed to be in nightlight mode. I will feature this product on my blog.

Yes I did what had to be done! LOL

All on the list are good advices except this. Yoga + christianity = NO. Yoga isn’t compatible with Catholic Church’s teaching. Sorry but I would suggest rather christian meditation like rosary or meditating a verse from Bible, something that is Catholic and way of doing it not being something like christianised new age.
Also not sure about breathing technique, if it is something not connected with Eastern techniques then it’s probably fine.
There is no such a thing like catholic yoga or christian mantra (just an example).

And I suggest you some wireless LED lamp and generator in case of electricity problem.
LED light is very cheap but shines alot and is durable.

Thanks for your comments!

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Did you buy this product? Because I don’t think it works as a nightlight-I think it just goes on automatically when the power goes out. And also works as a rechargeable flashlight.

Actually, I did purchase it. It stays in the electrical outlet when not traveling in human hands.

When it is plugged in, I can flip the switch to Low, and it lights up. So, yes, it can double as a night light.

When it is plugged in, if I flip the switch to High beam, nothing happens. That’s the flashlight setting.

(You also can use the Low beam as a flashlight. It certainly works when the item is out of the outlet and traveling. For example, if you are stargazing, you might want to use the lowest illumination possible to read your star chart.)

I’ve purchased my share of hand-crank radios and flashlights, and this item is reliable.

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I think this is a great product. I told my husband to pick a few up at Home Depot. He actually got the similar product which strangely is the same price, but not as good and has no nightlight setting. So it can be confusing to people-buy the right one which is on the link above!

It sounds like you are a prepper! This is the work I do. We should stay in touch. Please check out my profile and message me if you like. And TY for this-I have already told everyone I know about it!

Follow-up. I tested the device last night.

Device plugged into wall. Low power (the “night light” setting). I turned off all power, everywhere. The light stayed on. All that changed was the little red light, which indicates it has been cut off from electricity.

As for me and my profile, ironically I first noticed CAF when someone posted a question on those Left Behind books. I was exposed as a child to a lot of doomsday teachings, so I could evaluate them as doomsday literature. The characters actually live pretty luxuriously compared to other end-of-the-world series.

If you want a deep-dive disaster series, I would recommend Susan Beth Pfeffer’s “moon” books:

  1. Life As We Knew it (secular teen girl narrator)
  2. The Dead and the Gone (Catholic teen boy narrator)
  3. This World We Live In (they meet, but girl is the narrator)
  4. Shade of the Moon (IMO, the weakest of the four but has its moments).

I prefer the audiobooks. It’s like telling scary stories around the campfire. More impact.

I’ve saved the link to your blog. I’ll have to check it out when I have more time. In the meantime, though, you reposted this thread-opener on your blog. You listed Psalm 22. It’s actually Psalm 23. :slight_smile:

BTW, if you are a prepper, maybe you can tell me why no one stocks up on ten thousand cans of tuna fish anymore. Toilet paper? Puh-leese. Why, in my day, the blessed just didn’t go! :older_woman:

I am typing from my phone because im going through a real life preparedness experience on Long Island in the wake of tropical storm. No power for almost 24 hours. The power cut right after we installed those lights in our attic n basement! We are doing fine w generator and making do. I will be writing about it!

Actually it is psalm 22 because the Catholic Bible numbers them differently but no biggie.

Thanks again me friend. Keep in touch! Chiara f Mathews

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