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Hurricane season is back: 7 ways to prep your tech for the coming storms

Hurricane season is here again, and technology can keep you informed, and help to keep you and your family safe -- but only if you have the right gear and know how to use it.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Hurricane striking Miami
Getty Images/Warren Faidley

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean has kicked off again. Spanning June 1 to November 30, these storms have the potential to wreak havoc in the states they make landfall -- those most likely landfall sites being in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and North and South Carolina.

Also: My 5 must-have gadgets for off-grid adventures

If you find yourself in the path -- or in surrounding areas, do not be complacent because the maps and charts show you to be outside the worst of things -- then it's time to take things seriously, and part of that is taking the time to get your tech ready for what Mother Nature has in store.

1. Start with the kit

This is something to think about well before you find yourself in the storm's crosshairs.

I'm going to break these down into the essentials, and things that are nice to have, both for the home and in the car. 

I will also recommend products that I have personally tested and used, and that I have found to be reliable (this is not the time to find out that something is unreliable!).

Home kit

The essentials

Also: The 5 brightest flashlights

Things that are nice to have

Also: The 5 best portable power stations

Car kit

The essentials

Things that are nice to have

Also: The best portable jump starters

2. Charge all your gadgets in advance

Do this as soon as you can. This is especially important if you live somewhere where the power is likely to go out. 

Also: The best solar chargers

Also, remember to charge up any portable battery packs and rechargeable batteries you 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 in case the power goes out. Remember that most power banks can be charged while they charge other gadgets, which could simplify your charging setup.
  • If the power starts browning out, it might be a good idea to move your chargers to a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) if you have one to prevent devices from damage.
  • 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).

3. 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:

4. Blow the dust off your radio

The internet might go down, along with your phone and power, but the radio will likely still work. Radios are still the most reliable way to stay in touch in an emergency.

Also: The top satellite phones and gadgets for reliable off-grid communication

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).

5. 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!

Also: This tiny satellite communicator is packed full of features and peace of mind

If you don't have a custom 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 moisture that makes its way into the bag.

6. Backup your data

Fire, flood, theft. These can take your device, but if you have a backup, your data is not lost.

An off-site or cloud backup is preferable (even if "off-site" means keeping a drive at a friend or family member's house).

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! Alternatively, you can invest in a waterproof and fireproof storage drive

Also: The best external hard drives

My solution is to back up to the cloud using Backblaze, and also have local backups in a waterproof and fireproof RAID external unit for easy access.

7. 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 attempting to refill 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.

Also: You're using super glue all wrong

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 the winds are strengthening, the rain is starting, and the lights have gone out.

Oh, and now is a good time to download and print out any manuals you might need.

Also, the more you practice and use your gear, the more likely you are to remember you have it. I've known people forget that they have some useful bit of kit when an emergency hits. 

This is why practice and drills are important!

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