Surviving an Extended Power Outage

November 12, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                      return to JayVee Media Link LLC

candle flashlights and radio for blackoutPower outages.  They’re no joke for anyone who has to live through them.  Those of us who make our livings on our computers and smart phones suffer a double whammy when everything goes dark.  What steps can we take to maximize the power that we have when the possibility of recharging becomes remote?

First the obvious:

–Those of us who conduct our businesses on computers and cell phones should always have backup batteries for our devices.  Those backups should be fully charged.  If bad conditions are preceded by advance notice the batteries in our devices should also be fully charged – even if it means keeping our charged devices plugged in while conducting our business.

–We should also own a personal wifi device, be it our smart phones (though that activity will drain our batteries), j-devices or mifis.  If our internet service is interrupted there may be opportunity to access the internet via open channels in places like coffee shops.  But open channels leave us vulnerable to malware and hackers.  That’s not a good chance to take with systems upon which we depend for our livelihoods.

–If we are able to drive, we should use car chargers to top off our devices while we are on the move.

–It is wise to carry our chargers with us everywhere we go.  In our travels, we need to keep our eyes open for charging opportunities.  Anywhere live outlets are available, and where it’s not expressly forbidden, is an opportunity to charge our devices.  In addition, products do exist that don’t rely on electrical outlets to accomplish their purpose.  There are battery powered chargers, solar powered ones which are fine as long as there is sunshine, and chargers that depend upon motion, whose functionality is a bit more questionable.  The bottom line is all possible avenues should be explored, ahead of time whenever necessary.

There are additional steps we can take to keep our smart phones from running down too quickly:

  1. Lower the brightness of the display, and set it to “sleep” after a shorter period of time.
  2. Set phone to “airplane mode.”  Take it out of that status only when needed to make a call or send a text message.
  3. Disable the phone’s “email synch” feature.  This process uses a lot of energy.
  4. Turn off Bluetooth and GPS services.
  5. Disable 4G.  It’s wonderful for fast surfing, but it’s a real energy hog.
  6. When possible, send text messages instead of making/taking calls.
  7. Shut the phone when in an area with poor reception.  Searching to connect to a network is a real battery killer.
  8. Don’t stream audio or video.
  9. Disable push notifications from social networks.
  10. Close unnecessary apps that are running in the background.
  11. When possible, limit use of our phones.

Hurricane Sandy brought us renewed notice of the importance of preserving our ability to communicate, and in certain cases to conduct our businesses.  Let’s remember the ways in which we can maximize the life of our digital equipment, so they may serve us better and longer during times of energy drought.

What other ways can we preserve precious energy for our digital devices?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

phone battery and chargers


4 thoughts on “Surviving an Extended Power Outage

  1. In my opinion and what I do is I have a generator to run the main things for me. These include the refrigerator, sump pumps, modem, router, computers, cell phone chargers, lights, etc. I came to the determination that the cost of the generator vs what i could possibly loose in $ made it worth the purchase price of the generator. Just my opinion.

    • Thank you for weighing in, Ken! Having a generator is an excellent defense against being left in the cold and dark…and cut off from cyberspace. The cost is absolutely worth it, even just for the peace of mind! The ONLY thing we have to remember is that generators aren’t self sustaining. They do need to be kept fueled. Here on the east coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy gas was in very short supply. So while having a generator saved MY household, keeping it fueled up presented a considerable challenge.

      • Jeanine,
        I completely agree with the fuel issue. I keep on hand 3 5 gallon cans of fuel at all times. I rotate these by using the fuel for mowers etc. therefor the fuel does not get stale. I also am lucky enough to have a friend, not far away, that owns a gas station/convenience store that has full backup generator power and can pump fuel and keep his store running in the event of a power outage, he bought the generator after taking a hit by loosing all of his frozen and refrigerated foods in a power outage. (just my opinion(

      • We do the same thing with our gas powered tools, Ken. It is a very wise strategy. Now if only we had a friend who owned a gas station… lol Someday we hope to install a generator to power our whole house in the event of another prolonged outage. Those big ones usually run on natural gas, so it would have an uninterrupted supply from our gas line. Even the propane powered ones run a lot longer on a tank than the ones that burn gasoline.

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