Get your tech ready for bad weather

When storms hit, technology can keep your informed, and help keep you and your family safe.

Bad weather is sweeping parts of the United States, knocking out power and causing chaos. While tech can't stop it, having the right gear can keep your informed, and help keep you and your family safe.

Charge all your gadgets in advance

Do it now, while you have power! 

This is especially important if you live somewhere where the power is likely to go out.

Also: Extreme weather forecast? Essential gear for when the power goes out 

Also, remember to charge up any portable battery packs and rechargeable batteries that you might have (you might not need them, but they may help a neighbor out of a bind).

  • Keep all your devices on charge for as long as possible just in case the power goes out. Remember too that this is a good time to charge up power banks.
  • If the power starts browning out then it might be a good idea to move your chargers to a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) if you have one in case they or the devices connected to them are damaged.
  • If you have a gas-powered generator, test it in advance of needing it, especially if it's possibly still filled with older, stale gas (and common sense dictates that this isn't the sort of thing you run indoors).

Desert island tech: What you need when you're off the grid

Blow the dust off your radio

The internet might go down, along with your phone and power, but the radio will still work. If you have one handy make sure that the batteries are fresh and that you know how to use it (do a quick Google search in advance for local radio stations you can tune into).

Keep an eye on the weather

Here are a selection of websites that will let you do just that. You might also want to link to a local weather station and news site.

And here are a couple of apps to help you stay informed:

Weatherproof your devices

If you have big, cumbersome weatherproof cases for your smartphones and tablets that you don't normally use, now is the time to put them on. Go on, no one will judge you!

If you don't have a weatherproof case, then a Ziploc bag is better than nothing. And if you have one of those little bags of silica gel that comes with all sorts of things, throw one of those into the bag with your device as it'll help absorb any water that makes its way into the bag.

Also: How to save a phone that's been dropped into water, mud, soup, or even beer

Back up your data

If you live somewhere which is vulnerable to flooding then you might want to backup your data now just in case water gets to one -- or more -- of your devices.

An offsite or cloud backup is preferable, but if all you have is an external hard drive or USB key, then that will have to do (pop it into a waterproof bag to give it a fighting chance).

Familiarize yourself with any kit you don't know how to use

I've seen people superglue their hand to their face, smash themselves in the teeth with a hammer while trying to put up storm shutters, struggle for over an hour trying to start a gasoline generator that didn't have any gas in it, turn an expensive tent into a fireball by attempting to fill a gasoline stove that was already lit, slice their hand open with a screwdriver, and settle down to read the instructions for some essential bit of kit as a massive storm approaches. 

Add stress and fear into the mix and you have the potential for a lot of chaos.

Not sure how your portable battery pack, generator or new weather app works? The time to be figuring this out is now, not when you're hip-deep in water and the lights are out!

Download (and if you can, print out) any manuals you might need now.

Check your car kit

Here's a quick checklist of things to consider if you have to hit the road to get away from the storm:

  • If you don't have to drive, don't
  • Check your vehicle, especially tires, oil, coolant, and windshield washer fluid
  • Make sure you have a chargers and cables for your portable devices
  • Throw blankets, drinks, and snacks in the back (just in case)

Stay safe! And if you have any tip, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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