Editor’s note: With hurricane season entering its busiest period of the year, we wanted to revisit some of the power tips below. Stay safe out there!
A power outage is more than an inconvenience. It could mean losing the ability to contact friends, family, and emergency services if your phone battery dies.
One of the most important steps you can take leading up to a storm is to make sure your devices are fully charged. But there are two keys to preparing for a power outage: reducing use and back-up power sources. Follow these tips to stay connected.
Conserve Power: Stop thinking of electricity as an unlimited resource and break your usual phone usage habits – you won’t be able to charge whenever you want. To use as little battery power as needed, try some of these activities.
- Invest in board games. It might sound counterintuitive, but when the lights go out and your children are begging to play Candy Crush, you’ll understand. Look for activities that won’t tie up the phone – like board games.
- Battery-powered radios are your friend. A battery-powered radio will help you conserve power by keeping you entertained and informed when you don’t have power. Some of the newer radios even have USB ports you can use to charge your phone.
- Turn your phone off, or put it in airplane mode. While most cell towers run off battery backups and solar power during outages, they can still fail. When that happens, your phone spends a lot of power trying to connect to a cell tower or Wi-Fi that isn’t available. If there’s no cellular service near you, then there isn’t much use in having your phone on.
- Prep your phone for the long haul. There are plenty of adjustments you can make to ensure your phone conserves power. First of all, before a storm, check for software updates, which often include small performance improvements that can help extend battery life. Beyond that, turn off all push notifications, set email to fetch instead of push, and lower your screen’s brightness to save battery life.
Have backups: In prolonged outages, all the power conservation in the world won’t prevent your phone from hitting the dreaded red zone. That’s where alternative sources of power come into play.
- Charge your laptop before the storm. You may be able to use it as a battery for your mobile devices.
- Spare batteries cover the gap. Having portable power can add hours to phone life, keeping you connected from the end of the storm to when power gets restored.
- Use your car charger, but be careful. If you have to drive to safety, you’ll want a car charger so that you can rely on GPS without draining your battery. Some driving apps, like Waze, might let you know the location of downed trees, but they can be massive battery hogs. Keep in mind, however, that in mass power outages, gas stations might not be able to pump gas. This means that if you use your car to charge, you’re using gas without knowing when you’ll be able to buy more.
In the aftermath of a storm, a charged up phone is often the difference between staying connected and being in the dark. By taking steps to ensure you conserve battery and have backup power at the ready, you can stay in contact with family and friends even if the power goes out.