20 Tips to Prepare Your Technology for the Big Storm

Snow Phonehaving Your Electronics Ready for an Emergency Can Make Your Tech a Lifesaver

There is nothing worse than being unprepared for a major storm, whether it is a blizzard, hurricane, flood, tornado, power outage or earthquake. While ensuring that your home or apartment has adequate food, water and other emergency supplies, you should also think about the technology that you use and rely on.

1. Charge your batteries
Make sure that computers, tablets, cell phones and other devices are fully charged. There are ways to charge your smartphones faster as well. When possible, have spare batteries available for lower-tech flashlights and other devices.

2. Gather cables
Be sure that you have the device charging cables for your various devices.

3. Change power settings on laptops
Desktop computers in a power outage are pretty much useless unless you have them attached to an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). But laptops have rechargeable batteries that can provide hours of life for emergency communications. Set the power options to the most conservative energy setting possible (e.g., reduce the screen brightness, turn off the display and/or hard drives after a short time, use stand-by or hibernate settings).

4. Get a 12 volt USB charger for your vehicle
If the power goes out in your home, your vehicle could provide charging power for your smart phone or tablet.

5. Get a solar-powered battery or UPS or hand-cranked charger
If there is sun, you can get solar panels that charge batteries. In bad weather conditions that obstruct the sun, however, consider purchasing a UPS. You can also get hand-cranked chargers for smaller devices.

6. Put modem & WiFi router on a UPS
If the power goes out, so will your network, unless you have a means to power these network devices. Consider putting them on a battery power supply.

7. Learn how to tether your laptop or tablet to your phone
Many wireless providers offer means to share your wireless data with a tablet or computer. This is useful when there is no power for your modem or WiFi environment.

8. Get an “old phone”
Many cordless phones will not work if the power is out. You can still use a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) or landline phone that simply plugs into the phone jack. According to the New York Times, VOIP or Internet Phones may not work in a power outage.

9. Update your smartphone contacts
FEMA recommends that you have mobile, text and email contacts for those people you want to stay in touch with during an emergency.

10. Take current photos of family, pets & loved ones
NY.gov has several recommendation including having a current photo of people AND pets can possibly help in locating them.

11. Bookmark relevant utilities’ status pages
Locate and bookmark the power, gas, water and telephone utilities pages that talk about outages. Bookmark weather service sites as well.

12. Get some cash
If power or communications go out, be sure to have some cash on hand as ATM may not work or could be out of cash.

13. Digitally gather important documents
Scan or take photos of important financial or family documents and store them securely in the cloud and/or on a thumb or flash drive.

14. Wired keyboard and mouse
Any device that requires batteries or recharging will need power. If you are not using a laptop and can power a desktop, even briefly, consider using a wired keyboard and mouse to conserve batteries.

15. Stock up on sealable, water-tight, plastic bags
SurvivalCommonSense has many recommendations for using plastic bags for emergencies. Plastic bags are a great way to store small tech like tablets and smart phones and keep them away from the elements.

16. Keep your tech “warm”
TechHive tested how various cell phones performed at low or freezing temperatures. Some smartphones do need to be above (or below) a certain temperature in order to operate.

17. Get some touch-screen gloves
It is often quite difficult, if not impossible, to operate a touch-screen/capacitive device with heavy gloves on. Consider investing in a pair of gloves that work with capacitive touch screens.

18. Unplug unneeded devices or tech
If the power does go out, you should be sure all of your electronics are unplugged since power surges or spikes can happen when the power comes back on which can potentially damage your devices or electronics.

19. Install news apps
Install local and national news and weather apps on tablets and smart phones. Many of these provide live video and news casts.

20. Install friend-finder apps
Use social networking apps and geo-location apps to keep track of your friends and family.

When it comes to gadgets, devices and electronics, water, temperature and power are important things to consider in an emergency, and they don’t necessarily play nicely together.

This content was originally published on the Intel Free Press website.

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