Essentials for Staying in Touch and Powered Up in a Survival Situation

   11.17.14

We live in an ever-changing world. Fluctuating weather patterns have increased the size and intensity of natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. The constant threat of terrorist attacks, pandemics, and civil disorder weigh heavily on the minds of us all. We are frequently reminded of just how commonplace these things have become every time we turn on our televisions, pick up a newspaper, or turn on our computers.

What would you do in a disaster to protect both yourself and your family? What items should you stock up on and have in your home, or be prepared to take with you if you have to leave your home to defend your loved ones?

This article will focus on communication and being prepared for situations in which there is no electricity to charge your phones or to get information about the disaster situation you find yourself in. We have become dependent on electricity for everything we do; power outages –especially long-term outages–can quickly turn a temporary inconvenience into a serious disaster.

You can greatly minimize the impact of electrical power failure by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours, and you should consider a list of items for extreme emergencies that last much longer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people make an emergency plan that includes a disaster survival supply kit that contains items you can use when there is a power outage.

The following list of items will help you address the effects of a short to long term power outage, so you can get the information needed to help you communicate with loved ones, provide basic lighting needs, and get vital information about the events unfolding around you.

1. Batteries

You cannot have enough batteries in preparation for a long-term disaster. I personally get all of my batteries from Interstate All Battery Center as they last a very long time and are very competitively priced. To address this need, we have invested in several chargers and enough rechargeable batteries to fill each of our four chargers with AA, AAA, D, C, and 9V batteries two times over. Make sure you have the right rechargeable batteries for the right chargers or you risk destroying your charger and the batteries in the charger.

2. Hand-crank radio

The Eton FRX1.
The ETON FRX1.

At a bare minimum, at least one good AM/FM Weather radio is a must and should be one of the first items added to your list. It is imperative to stay informed during any kind of disaster or emergency. When the electricity goes out, a radio is your best bet for staying informed. I recommend the ETON FRX1, as a portion of the sales of these models goes to support the American Red Cross, and they are powered by a hand turbine so they do not require batteries. The FRX1 model, comes equipped with a flashlight, glow-in-the-dark indicator, and headphone output.  Also, they do not require tons of cranking to keep them working.

3. Emergency charging devices

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 91 percent of Americans own cell phones.  Having a way to charge your cell phone in an emergency is an absolute must. There are many options on the market, and their prices and functionality vary greatly. The key is for your recharging device to allow for a smooth and quick recharge of whatever type of cell phones you and your loved ones carry.

For recharging your cell phone, Interstate All Battery Center’s USB Emergency Power Bank is an inexpensive option (it can usually be found for under $10), runs on four AA batteries, and comes with a LED light built into the charger. All of your family members should have one of these in their purse, backpack, or briefcase in the event of an emergency. Our kids carry them in their school backpacks right beside their cell phones.

Two SoundLogic XT chargers.
Two SoundLogic XT chargers.

We keep two larger 10,000mAh water resistant power banks with dual USB chargers in our home and take them with us when traveling for extended periods. My personal favorite is the Sound Logic XT 10,000 mAh model. They retail for $49.99, are water-resistant, and are capable of charging up to two devices at a time. This model will allow up to 36 extra hours of talk time and can be recharged by hooking them up to your computer. They are very durable and are shock and dust proof. It is a pretty small investment for the peace of mind they afford both my family and me.

Both Tami and I carry the Micro-Start PPS Antigravity Batteries XP-1 model in our cars. These are pretty awesome and will jump-start cars, trucks, and motorcycles as well as charge your laptops, phones, and other electronics. The Micro Start PPS is the smallest jump starter/portable power supply available on the market and features three different power ports: 19V, 12V, and USB 5V – 2Amp. It also has a powerful built-in LED flashlight with an SOS beacon. You can recharge this unit at home or in the car, and it automatically shuts off when not in use. It comes in a nice carrying case and includes the mini jumper cables, an assortment of USB and Laptop connectors, a wall charger, and a car charger. They retail for $159.99, and I wouldn’t get in my car without it.

4. Solar power devices

The GoalZero Sherpa 50.
The GoalZero Sherpa 50.

Another great option is solar power. There are many choices on the market but GoalZero has been a leader in the industry of portable solar power for several years and they manufacture products you can trust. I keep the Sherpa 50 in our home; it provides all of the power needed to charge both our laptops and tablets. There are really important sites online that can help keep you informed during an emergency and having the capability of using your laptop and tablet can really add to your peace of mind. You can also purchase lighting systems that are compatible with the Sherpa 50.  The concept is really pretty simple, the unit comes with a Nomad 13 portable solar panel and the Sherpa 50 recharger. It takes about six hours for the Nomad 13 to charge the Sherpa 50 unit and about two hours for the unit to charge your laptop. You can charge your laptop once at full charge and your tablet twice, and the unit will run the Goal Zero lighting system for about 16 hours. At right around $400 the system is a little pricey, but is much less expensive than a gas generator and has the added benefit of not needing gasoline or diesel–and the unit is quiet.

5. Flashlights

Finally, it is important to have several types of flashlights on hand to provide lighting. I keep several general battery powered flashlights as well as a floodlight and light that fits on the brim of my baseball cap.

Interstate All Battery Center makes some really great, inexpensive rechargeable LED Flashlights in several sizes to choose from. I personally like their compact LED Spotlight. They are really dependable and put out an enormous amount of light while being powered by only four AA batteries. They came equipped with a 3W LED and have a light output of 220 Lumens and a beam distance of 500 meters, so they pack a lot in a small package. I have used them extensively, and you can depend on over 40 hours of light from the four AA batteries. It is a great value at $14.99. I also like the super-bright 10 lumen cap light, it fits easily on the brim of your hat and leaves your hands free to work on items around the house or when working on machinery like your car. It is built to withstand extreme conditions and is rugged enough to withstand heavy use. It requires two lithium coin cell batteries, and is water resistant. I use it quite often while in the field hunting or pursuing other outdoor activities, and it has never needed a change of batteries. They retail for $6.99, and I suggest having at least two of these on your disaster list.

The most important thing to remember in times of disaster is to simply make a solid plan. Communication during a power outage is vital to keep you and your family safe and secure. The items covered in this article will help you and your family be prepared for both long- and short-term power outages. All of these items are lightweight and portable and can be used in your home or can be easily transported if you need to escape your home to get to some place safe. Take some time and do a little research, your family’s safety and well-being may depend on it.

This article was produced in partnership with Interstate Batteries.

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