(WHATTHETECH)—What’s in your emergency kit at home? Flashlight, candles, bandages… what about tech gadgets? If a storm strikes and knocks out your power for days, what will you do to stay connected or call for help? I’ve rounded up some gadgets you might want to keep handy.
Every emergency kit should include portable battery chargers for smartphones. Fully charge them before the storm arrives and since some storms can knock out power for days, I suggest having at least one portable battery charger or charging pack for each phone or device.
The bigger the charger the better. Large portable chargers can provide enough power to charge and recharge a smartphone 2-4 times. Those cute little chargers on a keychain or with a flashlight that you can keep in your purse or a pocket just aren’t powerful enough to keep your phone going for an extended period of time.
You can always charge your phone in the car and if you do, make sure you have an AC converter/adapter for the cigarette lighter. The USB ports found in most newer cars are not powerful enough to charge a phone. Sure, it might keep a phone charged as you drive down the road, but the output is so weak (some are 0.5A) they simply cannot provide enough power to fully charge a phone.
Remember, you should never start a car and keep it running inside a garage or another enclosed space.
There are powerful charging stations and electric generators that can charge phones multiple times or even laptops. Goal Zero makes a line of emergency electric generators that run on solar power.
During natural disasters and storms, many cell towers become overwhelmed with people making calls. Sometimes it is difficult to get a phone call to go through so using a messaging app instead. Sending a message through WhatsApp, Wechat or even Facebook Messenger uses
very little bandwidth and can generally make it through the traffic.
There’s also the app Zello. Used by first responders around the world, this app connects through data networks, WiFi and Bluetooth. Users can send text messages to other users and even make walkie-talkie type calls to stay in touch.
Many municipalities and state agencies make their emergency broadcasts available through Zello as well so you can listen to any notifications from emergency workers.
These gadgets and apps will not only help keep you safe but stay connected.