Emergency Tech Checklist
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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.
Being in Florida, during hurricane season, I also keep a small bag of kitty litter in my trunk and an extra litter box, which I use normally to keep my regular car supplies in (triangles, flares, spare fuses, flashlight, can of fix a flat). Not a bad idea for any area of the country. Litter is good for getting unstuck from ice or mud. And if you have to evacuate quickly, that’s one last thing you have to worry about when time is essential.
Tech prepping for emergencies
First rule is don’t depend on electronic technology in an emergency, particularly cell phones. If you have children set an emergency gathering place close to them for the family to get to. In an emergency/disaster the highways will be parking lots and not passable. Plan alternative routes to get to safety. If you can purchase transportation that uses human power and not gasoline or electricity do so. You can pedal a bicycle, trike, pedal car right on by the gas stations and keep moving. Keep in mind that your children will likely be able to do this easier than you so take breaks when you need them or your children will leave you in the dust. Keep cash handy but limit it to no more than $1000. Carrying more makes you a criminal in the eyes of law enforcement. While there are good people in law enforcement that is not the rule anymore and you must be aware that their first duty is to control the situation and find probable cause to arrest you, not help or protect you. Do not depend on credit cards or ATM cards because the machines that use them will likely not work. Have a plan on where you will take your family for safety once you have met at your emergency gathering spot. Have that place of safety stocked for your family’s survival. If the authorities announce that everyone is to report to a relocation center, do the opposite. The government will not let you leave once you are there and when the food runs out you and your family will starve behind locked gates in the government facility. Government relocation facilities are in truth detention centers/prisons. If you doubt this look at the 1940s during WWII, Japanese Americans were rounded up and placed in “Relocation Facilities” for their own safety. Many were tortured and died there. It was not for their safety it was a prisoner of war camp. If you doubt it can happen now look to what happened to the people who went to the Superdome in New Orleans during Katrina. Be wary of strangers, most acquaintances and some friends. Their interests have nothing to do with you and your family’s well being. If in doubt about someone or some action send them away or stop before you take the action. Think first to your own safety.
There’s no way those walkie talkies have a 20 to 30 mile range. 1 or 2 max.
You're right Bruce. The 20-30
You’re right Bruce. The 20-30 miles cited would be in an open environment. In the suburbs you’d get a 5-8 mile range and in urban environments that would go down to a couple of miles.
From Ed on October 05, 2012 :: 12:01 pm
If the SHTF (stuff hits the fan) for real you may want/need real survival information beyond the helpful apps you can get on your techie devices like emergency food gathering, finding water, starting a fire, finding (or making) shelter, emergency medical, etc. Check out survivalist and preppers websites and blogs for more information.