Monday, August 19, 2013

Disaster Tech For Your Next Emergency

The tropics are quiet for the moment, but we've already had five named storms so far in 2013. The height of the season begins now. Time to look at the tech you have to help you through a natural disaster.

Eton Cell Phone Charger
Techlicious has a great article on gadgets you can use during a power outage. My favorite is the Eton BoostTurbine 2000mAh Portable Backup Battery Pack-Charger (pictured, left). This one's about $60 at Amazon, but the company makes some other portable, self-powered charging units that are cheaper. I don't have a smartphone, but I can make calls, send text messages, and tweet from my old-fashioned flip phone. That gives me several ways to keep in touch with family and friends, even if the power's out, the phone lines are down, and the internet is dead.

The Tampa Bay Times profiles several kinds of storm gear, including some home water purifiers. Right after Hurricane Ivan, we were getting just a trickle of water, at best, until the company repaired damaged pipes and equipment. You should have enough bottled water for your family and pets for at least three days, but if repairs take longer than that, or if you want to be sure you have clean water for washing up, a purification device provides a simple worry-free option. You can also use water purification additives or add plain bleach.

Remember, some of the most important items in your disaster kit are gadgets, and they need to be powered by batteries, solar, or crank - not electricity.
  • Portable Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Can Opener
  • Hand Tools
Review your emergency kit today. Make sure you have fresh batteries for everything that needs them. If disaster strikes, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Free Hurricane Safety Handbook

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has put together state-specific handbooks to help you get ready for a hurricane and of other natural disasters, including floods and tornadoes. These are free pdf downloads, so, you have no excuse not to take a look at the handbook for your state and see if your disaster plan is missing anything.

The book is more than just a checklist. They include radio stations you can turn to for information in your area, websites that can provide additional information on things like flood risk, and agencies and organization that may be able to provide you with guidance or assistance before, during, or aftter a disaster. Because these are in-depth guides, the files are pretty big. It may take a few minutes for it to download . 


Please note, these links are not direct to the pdf, in case the link changes. They are links to a page that has information about and a link to the handbooks. You may have to scroll down a bit to find it. These pages also have a lot of other information that you may find useful.

If you live in an Atlantic Coast state, I'd suggest downloading one of these handbooks anyway, because while they may have some state-specific info that won't apply to you, they'll have a lot that will be the same for any coastal community.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Start the Season Right

Day two of Atlantic Hurricane Season, and we have a tropical low just entering the Gulf. The National Hurricane Center says it has a low chance of developing into a tropical storm.Still, if you haven't checked your storm supplies, now's a good chance to do it. Even if this storm turns out to be nothing, you'll be ready in case something serious develops between now and November 30.

Food - Do you have at least three days worth of non-perishable food, enough for your whole family, potential guests, and your pets? Remember, you won't have the use of electric can openers, the microwave, or your electric stove.

Water - The rule is one gallon of drinking water per person, per day, and you're expected to take care of yourself for at least three days. FEMA can't bring in supplies until roads are cleared and the local government coordinates someplace for them to set up their distribution center. Don't forget that you'll need additional water for washing hands. Again, don't forget your pets.

Batteries - You'll need a battery-operated or hand-crank radio and flashlights. The radio will help you get crucial information about the storm's movements once the power is knocked out. It's also how you'll find out where those FEMA distribution centers are. And it's awfully dark at night when no one for miles around has electricity. Flashlights and battery-operated lanterns are the best way to see where you're going and what you're doing after dark. Candles and hurricane lamps both put off heat (which you don't need in the South in the summertime) and pose a fire risk. Make sure you have fresh batteries for all your lights, radios, and other emergency devices.

The Florida Public Service Commission, which oversees utility companies, has put together some safety tips. Also check out the sidebar links on this page for more lists of what you need to be ready for bad weather and other disasters.