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Tech tips

Tech how-to: Prep for power outages and blackouts

Severe winter conditions are blasting the country with snow, sleet and a rocky future for the next couple of months. Power outages rippled across southern and central states recently, leaving millions of Americans without power or water. In times like these, many are looking for preparation plans to protect themselves from natural disasters.

One good way to prepare for power outages is to buy yourself a portable generator. These helpful devices will keep things running when you need them most, but you need to take a few precautions. Tap or click here to choose the best generator for your situation.

When it comes to preparation plans, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No matter what time of year it is, you should always have a back-up plan in case you lose power for a couple of hours or days. Consider this your winter storm survival guide.

Step 1: Get the supplies you need

When you’re crafting up your backup plan, you need high-quality tools at your disposal. The number one gadget you need is a flashlight to help you see.

You should also invest in a battery-powered portable radio. Here’s the best gadget we recommend:

Of course, now that we’re in the 21st century, we’re not limited to the bare essentials. For instance, if you know bad weather is a possibility, make sure your phones, tablets, laptops, rechargeable flashlights and portable battery chargers are charged up.

Beyond hand-held chargers, consider investing in a larger power station from brands like Anker and Jackery, which can charge phones multiple times. Add an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, to your modem and router and possibly your home office setup. A UPS battery doesn’t last very long, but they’re great at keeping you online when it counts.

If you have a bit more to spend, try this powerhouse.

If you’re willing to drop half a thousand on a power bank, we recommend Jackery’s Explorer 500. It’s the best powerhouse money can buy.

While these tech goodies can help you protect yourself, don’t forget first-aid supplies. You should also have a store of drinking water and canned food stored away. Remember: Good supplies make a world of improvement during a natural disaster.

Step 2: Turn on phone alerts

Now that you have everything you need in case of disaster, let’s make sure you get a heads-up whenever storms start rolling in. Phone alerts ensure you’re never taken by surprise.

Luckily, you’ll always receive messages from the national wireless alert system, regardless of your phone’s notification settings. But you can also turn your phone into a live police and emergency scanner. With this trick, you can get advanced warnings for any drastic changes in your environment.

If that’s not your style, there are hundreds of mobile apps designed to keep you informed about your surroundings. They cover anything, from the length of your morning commute to the state of your finances. Here are seven tools designed to keep you safe.

Step 3: Cross out your checklist

According to ready.gov, you should take an inventory of all the items in your home that rely on electricity. We also recommend asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I have any medical devices that require electricity? If so, talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan.
  • How many batteries will I need if the power goes out? Buy as many as you need and invest in a good battery organizer.
  • Will my home phone work in a power outage? If not, find out how long battery backup will last.
  • Do I have enough supplies to last a month? You’ll need non-perishable foods, water and cleaning supplies like soap and hand sanitizer.

This may sound overwhelming. If you don’t have the cash to drop on expensive supplies, remember that you don’t have to buy everything now. Slowly build up essential supplies over time, and you’ll soon develop a cache of items to help you weather the storm.

Step 4: Stay safe when disaster strikes

Now that you’re prepared for anything, here’s what to do in the midst of a power outage. First, keep freezers and refrigerators closed. A freezer will maintain its temperature for about 48 hours, but opening the door will shrink that time frame.

Earlier, you learned about the best generators you can buy. Make sure you only use them outside and keep them far away from the windows. Otherwise, you could die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

For this same reason, you should never use a gas stove or an oven to heat your home. If you’re freezing cold, go to a community center with power. You should also turn off or disconnect electronics because power may return in momentary spikes that damage your devices.

Speaking of taking care of your tech, let’s examine how your tech can take care of you. There are a ton of apps that can help you in the middle of an emergency. Tap or click here for the best disaster apps.

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