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How to take care of your tech in a heatwave

These precautions will help ensure your gadgets keep working. But it's not just the heat you have to worry about.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
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Central and eastern regions of the US are enduring record-breaking temperatures this week as a heatwave engulfs up to 80 million people. This sweltering situation is only expected to intensify, with the National Weather Service warning that it could escalate into a deadly weather event.

Technology plays an indispensable role in our lives, particularly during extreme conditions like these. Staying connected, monitoring weather forecasts, and summoning emergency services if necessary become crucial lifelines. Therefore, it's essential to ensure your tech is prepared and reliable when you need it most.

Also: The best portable power stations you can buy: Expert tested

It's easy to think that the heat is the only challenge, but hand in hand with these soaring temperatures comes the threat of power outages. Planning ahead means considering both the oppressive heat and the potential for electricity disruptions. Being proactive and prepared can make a significant difference in your ability to cope with these challenging conditions.

Dealing with the heat

The priority is to keep your tech devices out of the heat as much as possible. Avoid exposing laptops and smartphones to direct sunlight whenever possible. Do not leave your devices inside a blazing hot car, as the temperatures can quickly become extreme. If your devices do start to overheat, turn them off to give them a chance to cool down.

Cases, while excellent for protecting your devices from impacts, are not beneficial in the heat. These cases act as heat traps, preventing efficient heat dissipation. Removing the cases will help your devices stay cooler.

When charging your devices, always do so in the shade. If no natural shade is available, create some by using a white cloth above your device. This cloth will reflect a significant portion of the sun's heat, whereas darker materials absorb heat and are less effective.

Maximize the use of air conditioning both at home and in your car, and utilize fans as much as possible to help keep the environment cool.

Also: Smartphone overheating? Here are 3 ways to cool it down fast (and what not to do)

Most importantly, if a device issues a warning about overheating, turn it off immediately and relocate it to a cooler spot as quickly and safely as you can. Taking these precautions will help ensure your tech gadgets remain functional during extreme heat. 

What if the power goes out?

However, the heat brings with it another potential problem -- power outages. Not only is there extra pressure on the system from the increased load as people lower their AC settings, but the heat itself can cause significant issues for the electrical grid.

How you can prepare for this depends on what resources you have available.

At the very least, ensure that all your devices, including power banks, are fully charged. If you have a power station, make sure it is charged up as well. If you own portable solar panels, now is the perfect time to dust them off and start harvesting that free solar power.

The Bluetti AC180 connected to a 120W solar panel

Collecting free power using the Bluetti AC180 connected to a 120W solar panel.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

If you have a desktop computer, it's wise to connect it to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or a power station while in use. Additionally, connect your router and network gear to the UPS. This way, if the power goes out, you will have enough time to save your work and shut everything down gracefully, preventing a sudden crash.

Also: Get the Bluetti AC180 power station for under $600

Taking these proactive steps can help you mitigate the inconvenience and potential damage caused by unexpected power outages during extreme heat. By being prepared, not only can you ensure that your essential tech remains functional and your data stays safe, but you can remain in communication even in the face of power disruptions.

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