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How to Prepare Your Phone and Other Tech for a Natural Disaster

WSJ via MSN: “Is tech useless during a natural disaster? Far from it—if you prepare correctly. Hurricanes and floods wreak havoc on the Southern and Eastern coasts in the summer and fall, wildfire season ramps up in the West and heat waves stretch from one side of the country to the other. The devastating fire on the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier this month became the country’s deadliest wildfire in more than a century. And Hurricane Hilary posed a rare threat to Southern California. Scientists believe climate change will make extreme weather events occur more often. When they do, power and cellphone service often fail. But that doesn’t mean your tech won’t be important or useful. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your tech is ready before an extreme weather event—including ways to get in touch with emergency services when you don’t have a wireless signal. The basics are important during a disaster. Include spare batteries, flashlights and hand-cranked radios in your emergency kit, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Keep your devices plugged in during bad weather so they will be fully charged if the electricity fails. Top up any power banks you own as a backup. Some newer products from companies such as Anker can juice up your smartphone and laptop at the same time.  If you want to go bigger than the pocketable battery packs, WSJ personal tech columnist Nicole Nguyen recommends buying a portable power station. They are typically the size of a boombox, are cheaper than generators and can be safely operated indoors. They likely won’t power your refrigerator for days but can keep your smartphone charged.  Solar-powered batteries can be helpful backups, but clouds and thick smoke can block the rays needed to charge them. They also tend to drain quickly when out of direct sunlight, which means they shouldn’t be the primary batteries you use, said Tim Frazier, faculty director of the emergency and disaster management program at Georgetown University….”

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