There have been ample opportunities over the past weeks to be reminded of how much we rely on electricity.
Perhaps the first few hours without power are okay, even possibly fun as we indulge in memories of camping. Then the need to hunker down sinks in, as we eat the second (or third) quart of softening ice cream and put another thawed steak on the grill.
We intended to be better prepared for the next emergency, but oops!
Where to start?
Forewarned is forearmed. Local services, such as Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) provide traffic and weather notices to your phone, via email or other options. Visit Fairfax County’s Website for links to a variety of local and national alert services and sign up.
The United States Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) focuses on weather and environment. It is an excellent source and has a mobile version as well as content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Two other good sources are WeatherBug and The Weather Channel which has both Apple and Android apps.
So you’ve signed up for alerts, what’s next?
Gather information for a first aid kit. Since this is a technology article, we’ll assume you have the physical items and will concentrate on the virtual. Keep a list of prescriptions you take with the medication name and dosage. Record contact information for your doctors and pharmacy.
But the power’s out and my technology devices are draining. Help?
Like your physical first aid kit, you’ll need a physical kit of energy alternatives to keep your electronics going. There are AA battery-powered chargers for your mobile phones and tablets. Check out your phone and tablet manufacturers’ Websites, Amazon.com or local computer store for options. You may wish to invest in an extra battery pack for your laptop to extend the time. Again, your laptop manufacturer’s website is a good first stop for seeing what’s available.
If you want to be prepared for a lengthy power outage, consider buying a hand-crank radio and/or a gas-powered generator. Shades of the fears for Y2K when the imminent end of computers and the systems that ran our physical infrastructure were anticipated. For any young readers, Y2K was when the century rolled from 1999 to 2000.
Thanks. All that will help me get through a few days of power outage. Advice for assembling my essential papers for a greater disaster?
First, congratulations for thinking about this NOW. Here is a starter list of documents to scan and store on your computer or better yet securely in “the cloud” so you can get to them even if your computer is damaged.
- Contact information of family, friends, doctors, and other important people
- Photo IDs, passports, social security cards
- Contact information and policy numbers for insurance companies
- Vital records such as birth and marriage certificates
- Wills, car titles, contracts, deeds or leases
- List of bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial records
- Photos of the interior and exterior of your home and valuables for possible insurance coverage needs.
Finally, my parents always recommended I carry a bit of cold, hard cash. “Cash always works and you never know when a credit card or an automated teller machine (ATM) might not,” they advise. Thanks Mom and Dad.
What has helped you through an extended power outage or natural disaster?