Earlier this year, Hurricane Florence hit the Carolina’s hard, dropping over 35 inches of rain and causing over $12 billion in damages.
As a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds over 130 mph, one of the biggest threats resulting from the storm was the occurrence of freshwater flooding, especially in North Carolina.
In Bladen County, N.C. rescuers used helicopters, boats, and military vehicles to evacuate more than 100 people from the southeastern county where high water breached a levee and flooded a town.
According to Governor Roy Cooper, The N.C. National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard “Flying with night vision goggles, heroically saved lives.”
It was estimated that over 100 people were rescued in one night, many of those people being hoisted into a helicopter, after taking refuge in a local church.
The thing is, I realize most of us aren’t helicopter pilots and don’t have access to state-of-the-art military night vision equipment.
However, even if you don’t want to go out and spend big bucks on night vision, there are still some techniques you can use for improving your vision in the dark…
Use your peripheral vision.
Our retina contains two types of photoreceptor cells commonly referred to as rod and cone.
The cone cells are better at detecting color, while the rods are more useful for seeing motion and seeing in low light conditions. Now, the rods are what surround your retina.
In other words, they aren’t part of the center of your eye. Since rods are more effective for seeing in darkness you will be able to see more if you don’t look directly at the object.
You want to look at your main target at a 15-20 degree angle, allowing your eyes to use more rods.
Cover it up.
Do you know the real reason why pirates in the 1600’s wore eye patches? It’s not because of an injury to their eye or to look “cool.”
Historians believe that pirates wore eye patches because if a pirate was fighting on deck in the sunlight, then had to continue the fight under the deck where it is usually dark, it could take too long for their eyes to adjust to be able to see.
In other words, if the pirate went below deck he would simply move the eye patch to the other eye since the uncovered eye was already adjusted to the dark.
So, the next time you are moving into darkness, consider covering one eye beforehand, which will make it easier to see once in the dark.
Where I live in Utah, my town sits at an elevation of around 6,000 feet. I don’t enjoy going outside during the day without sunglasses because the sunlight is so bright.
In fact, studies have shown that people who never wear sunglasses can have around 50% worse night vision compared to people who always wear sunglasses.
Wearing sunglasses should be part of your everyday attire because they protect your eyes and make it easier for your eyes to see at night.
Look for outlines.
As I mentioned earlier, your rod cells in your retina are more effective for night vision compared to your cone cells.
With that being said, your rod cells are terrible at seeing color but are better for seeing shapes. Considering this, when trying to see in the dark look for shapes, outlines and movement rather than colors.
Give it time.
As you first enter a dark area, keep your eyes shut for a few minutes to help them adjust to the sudden change. It can take your eyes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to completely adjust from bright lights to darkness.
In addition, when trying to adjust to darkness, avoid any bright light.
For example, if you are outside at night trying to adjust your eyes, don’t turn a flashlight on to check on something as this burst of bright light can make your night vision much worse.
The bottom line is, during a survival situation you may be forced to move at night, without using any flashlights to avoid detection.
So, remember these tips because you don’t want to be completely blind during a nighttime crisis.