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Aug 25, 2020
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When disaster looms, having the right tech tools can help you get critical information, keep in touch with rescue workers and loved ones – maybe even save your life.

“I can’t imagine going through a giant storm without my gadgets,” says Kathy Zucker, author and founder of the Metro Moms Network.

Zucker lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, and rode out a pair of hurricanes, Irene and Sandy, at home with her husband and young children. “Because I had my smartphone and laptop, and a giant, massive backup battery/power supply to keep them powered up, I never lost touch with the outside world during the entire storm. That was everything.”

When a hurricane loomed just off the coast of North Carolina, novelist Christina Wood was busy charging up gadgets as she boarded up windows at her Wilmington area condo. “The most important tech gadgets in this (disaster situation) are batteries! The bigger, the better.” Wood wrote to me over email. “We might be without power for a long time. A lot of locals have generators. But if you don't, power bricks are like gold!”

With the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season underway, and the Gulf Coast bracing for two big storms to make landfall, it's not too late to make sure your disaster preparedness tech is charged up and ready to go.

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Start with your smartphone
Your smartphone can be your lifeline – but not if the battery dies. Keep it plugged in and charging as long as you have power, “but the minute the storm gets here, unplug everything,” Wood warns. “Lightning is dangerous. I know someone who was hit by lightning through his keyboard!”

Be sure to have more than one back-battery charger topped-off too. I keep a handful of them including the Mophie Charge Stream Pad+ ($30) wireless power station, and the Outxe Savage (starting at $60), which has a small solar panel that comes in really handy when there’s no other available power source. In addition to those two, I keep the Cobra Marine JumPack XL H2O ($150) in my car at all times. It’s a handheld gadget that can jump-start V8 gas and diesel engines multiple times, has two USB ports to power up your smartphone, and a built-in flashlight with SOS and strobe modes.

At least twice a year, I take out all of my backup batteries and charge them up, too, to make sure they’re nearly full if/when disaster strikes. If your phone is breathing its last breath remember that a laptop can charge it up too, as long as you have the right charging s on hand. I use a MacBook Pro that needs an additional dongle to charge up my iPhone – so I stashed an extra one, along with an extra charging – in a Ziploc in my emergency pack.

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