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Emergency Tech Checklist
Expect the unexpected is a mantra we use here in California living in earthquake country. But that mantra can apply anywhere you live in the U.S. Mother Nature has not been friendly lately. So family safety planning is always in the back of our minds as we try to meet any weather challenges that might arise such as severe weather, hurricanes, tornados, forest fire or earthquake. Here are useful items to add to your home and family safety apps for your devices.
Power in a Pinch
In an emergency or extended power outage your auto might be the only source of power. To accommodate the many communication and computing devices a family might own the Anker Multi-function 90W Universal AC / Auto Combo Adapter is a good choice for under $30. Solar is the another alternative to charge your devices – the Revive Solar ReStore external battery pack with USB charging port and built-in light, also for under $30, will do the job and you can take this charger skiing or to the beach. It is a good idea to encourage the family in keeping their devices charged at all times.
You can never have enough when you need them! The Hybrid Solar Powered Flashlight ($25) has a power panel to charge its batteries and will keep its charge for three years. And if the charge runs out, you can pop in regular batteries. However, I love it when they combine several products in one like the Greenlite LED 3-in-1 Night Light, Emergency Light, & Flashlight ($12). Both are reasonable priced so you can put one in each bedroom, the garage and the kitchen.
To ensure access to clean drinking water, you'll want to have water purifier on hand. The SteriPEN Adventurer Opti ($89) uses UV light to kill bacteria, including Giardia and Cryptosporidia, in 16 ounces of clear water in less than a minute. For murky water, consider the Katadyn Vario Multi Flow Water Microfilter ($89).
“Grab-and-Go” Emergency Backpack
Have an emergency backpack in the garage ready to put in the auto if you have to evacuate. The back pack should contain essentials like a first aid kit, food and water for a day or two, matches, batteries, and flashlights, a few small blankets, a plastic tarp, utility gloves and simple tools. Mayday's 4 Person Deluxe Emergency Backpack Kit ($68) already packed with enough supplies for a few days for a family of four. However, Make sure you add to the pack a small bowel for water and dry food for your pets.
Two-way radios provide an easier way to communicate with between vehicles, if you are evacuating with more than one auto. Plus, in a hurricane or earthquake, you cannot depend on cell towers to work or have the capacity to serve the busy mobile phone system. These two-way radios use less power than your mobile phone, use 22-50 channels and have over a 20-30 mile range depending on the brand. Models, like the Cobra MicroTalk CTX425 ($45), also include a 10-channel NOAA weather radio.
Have a waterproof bag ready to go for the items you plan to take with you, such as passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates and check books. You can also scan and store copies of credit cards, home owner insurances policies, valuable photos and contact lists securely in the cloud. Also, make sure you pack cash in small bills in your “grab and go bag,” in case ATMs and credit cards don’t work.
It's a good idea to organize and have a list of medications and medical issues for each family member handy plus a list of family doctors and insurance numbers. You can store these on your mobile phone or tablet. I like the Family Health Record ($1.99 in iTunes) app for my iPhone and AboutOne (free) for Android, Windows Phone and iOS devices.
What To Do
With a busy family, you might all be in different locations when an emergency event strikes such as a tornado or earthquake. Plan for this by making sure each family member know exactly where to go if a sudden evacuation is required. Each member should also know how to communicate back to the family unit as to their level of safety and location. The Life 360 app, free for iOS, Blackberry and Android devices, will help you locate and secure your family.
Lastly, good advice from someone who lives in the West with earthquakes and forest fires. Keep vehicles at half full of gas or more all times. If you need to evacuate quickly, gas stations might not be operational. And if you do need to find one, load up Gas Buddy onto your iOS, Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry device.