How do lighthouses work?

Written by julie boehlke
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How do lighthouses work?
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Lighthouse History

A lighthouse is a house with a tall section that rises above the bottom portion of the house and beams a light or beacon that continuously flashes and lights up the sky and shoreline. The lighthouse serves as a welcoming landmark to boaters who are arriving from sea. Lighthouses were created with the idea that they were able to help ships at sea when there was stormy, foggy or troublesome weather abroad. Before GPS navigation and radios were invented, a lighthouse stood as the destination point for many sailors and captains who already out on the water with their vessel. The lighthouse was created back in the 1700s and was a welcoming focal point for those who needed assistance and light to carry them back to the shores safely.

Purpose

The purpose of the lighthouse is to create light outward from the shorelines to the water. The light can be multicoloured or clear and is located at the top portion of the lighthouse far and above the lighthouse itself. The light is very bright and circulates 180 degrees in all directions so vessels from all angles can identify the lighthouse. Most lighthouses are built from concrete, brick or stone and are designed to withstand icy, cold weather, hurricane force winds as well as fire and other inclement weather conditions. Many times a lighthouse keeper who works and maintains the lighthouse and keeps things in good condition actually lives inside of the lighthouse at all times. He or she may be in charge of replacing the bulbs when they run out or notifying port authorities if the weather changes or takes a turn for the worse.

Where are They?

Lighthouses are generally located on the shorelines of most major bodies of water, everywhere from the great lakes and their large bodies of water, to oceans and bays scattered around the world. Many lighthouses are over one hundred years old and some are even older. Most are still in good working order and have been kept in good condition by the lighthouse keeper who attends the lighthouse. Because lighthouses are situated near the coastline, water can easily be brought to the surface or side of the lighthouse, especially during a heavy wind storm or hurricane. Windows in lighthouses are generally set up higher from the ground in case if there was a major storm that accrued water damage or brought about large waves. The door to the lighthouse typically faces the opposite way of the shoreline, to keep the inside of the house warm and dry.

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