Storm prep 101: Tips to stay connected, save power
If you lose power during a major storm, you can probably get by for 3 hours.
But do you have what it takes to stay connected if you lose power for three days?
Or how about three weeks?
To prepare for when a big storm hit, the right gear can help you stay in touch with the world and survive.
I want to share with you some advice on what tech you should have at home And some ways to conserve power to keep connected as long as possible.
Now at this moment a hurricane is heading toward Florida.
I grew up in South Florida I've seen my fair share of hurricanes.
I've also learned a lot by speaking to survival experts and storm prepers over the years in my reporting.
Now for starters, it's important to stock up on water and canned food to last a week.
But, you also have to be smart about conserving power and keeping the important gadgets charged.
So, let us first focus on the phone.
You need to completely re-think how you use your phone because this is no longer a video streaming, music playing, candy crushing, Instagram liking toy anymore.
Your phone is a survival tool, and you're gonna wanna change your settings to conserve juice.
Turn off all the extra wireless connections, the GPS, the Bluetooth, the Wi-Fi.
You also wanna do things like disable location service, and if you can, dim the brightness of the screen and switch to airplane mode.
Now, don't wait out the blackout by scrolling on your phone, you really should be turning your phone off until you need to reach someone.
Now, of course, you also will need back-up phone battery packs.
You wanna charge up as many of those extra juiced packs as you can before the storm hits.
And you know what, charge your laptop.
A fully charged laptop also can charge a phone.
Now if you do have these old backup battery juice packs just sitting unused for a long time in your closet, well you're going to be in trouble, because batteries degrade over time.
So leaving one idle is a sure way to kill it.
Good prep means keeping batteries charged every now and again.
Folks often ask about solar chargers.
You should think of them as a backup to your backup.
Because it could take a very very long time to harness enough energy just for one phone.
On a good day we're talking five hours of direct sunlight and not all solar chargers are well made.
You can, probably, find some good ones at a camping store.
But, remember the larger the panel, the more successful the charge.
Just, don't go for the cheapest thing you find on Amazon.
You may have to drop 50 to 100 dollars to find a good solar charger.
Now, about using that phone, if your at home, waiting it out, with other people, and they have cell phones, just keep one person's phone on, at a time.
If you're trying to reach others like loved ones and friends, stick with text messages.
Calling is gonna take up a lot of power.
And typical SMS text messages can still be delivered later when the person is using their phone again.
But in general, just you can't count on cell towers.
They're not designed to handle everyone in a given area, trying to use their phone at once.
So how are you gonna stay informed, If you're not counting on cell towers.
Well, when I was a kid and power went out, we huddled around the radio for News Updates.
I know it's a wild concept.
If your only source of information is on Facebook as cell towers go down, you're in trouble.
So get radios, get batteries and think about your TV.
How is your TV going to work?
If your cable internet is down.
In a metro area, you could pick up broadcast signals with a digital TV antenna.
You're gonna want a low energy small LCD TV so you don't lose all your battery juice at once.
This is where you'll want to invest in something like a heavy duty portable power pack.
These things cost around 200 to $300.
They are way more than those wimpy phone backup batteries.
I'm talking about a power pack that is powerful enough to jumpstart a car.
That's something you want for a television.
Now, if you have the time, there are other supplies that can help.
Consider stocking the garage with a heavy duty, extra long extension cord.
Like about 100 feet.
If your neighbor has power, they may lend you an outlet.
And this next one sounds like common sense, but it is helpful to have battery powered lanterns around and headlamps with plenty of extra batteries.
You can also use a gas power generator with a UPS pack that stands for uninterrupted power supply.
Gas power generators put out dirty power that means the voltage will fluctuate and that can damage your electronics, but a UPS to filter the power can prevent your tech from frying.
Some generators do come with this built in inverter to pump out more stable power for things like computers There are many choices out there but you figure you can find a model that runs about eight hours on one gallon of gas.
And it based on obvious not everyone knows this but never run a gas powered generator indoors, the carbon monoxide will kill you.
So don't play around out there.
In general, it's just good to own a variety of backup power sources.
This there is no app to help you with this.
It is all on you to tough it out without checking your phone every two minutes.
Now if you do have your own stories or tips to add to this, please share them in the comments.
In the meantime, stay safe out there and stay prepared.
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