How to Protect Your Electronics From a Hurricane
Electronic communication devices are increasingly being used in disaster response. After a devastating storm, your phone or tablet can literally be a lifeline, so it should really work.
The loss of the ability to communicate with the outside world makes it difficult to coordinate relief efforts and makes it impossible to tell friends and family that you are safe. Personal safety should always be the highest priority, but if your family’s disaster plan relies on smartphones or laptops in any way, it is very important that you take steps to prevent damage to them. There are several ways to do this.
Waterproof your devices
Obviously, during a hurricane, it is imperative to keep your electronics dry, and the easiest way to do this is to package all of your electronics in sealed, waterproof plastic containers. If you have a vacuum sealer, great; Pack backup batteries, chargers, adapters, and cords in bags before packaging. If you don’t, then Ziploc bags are for you. In any case, the silica gel bags provide additional protection against dryness if not already saturated with moisture. You can charge saturated silica as a last resort by oven drying it at 200-250ºF for several hours, but if you’re not sure how dry it is, it’s best to buy fresh material from a hardware store.
Diversify your portfolio of chargers
A phone or laptop with a dead battery is completely useless, so be sure to pack a variety of battery recharge devices with you in your backpacking bag. Fully charged power banks are a must, and USB compatible car chargers allow you to charge your devices from any car with a working battery – just remember to unplug the adapter when you’re done. Add one or two extension cords to make the most of any functional outlets you come across, plus a few extra patch cables, and you should be fully protected.
Get the most out of your smartphone
The pocket-sized supercomputers we all carry with us save lives in an emergency, even when cellular or Wi-Fi is not available. Your smartphone can handle everything from first aid apps to downloaded maps and quick-access document storage; find out what information you need access to and download it to your phone. While you are doing this, take the necessary precautions to maximize your phone’s battery life , which can make your life much easier in the event of a prolonged power outage.
If you have not already done so, do not forget to activate the emergency functions on your phone. Android users can add emergency contacts to their lock screen , and the Medical ID feature in the Apple Health app lets you access the lock screen for related health and contact information. Turn on emergency notifications as well: Android settings are under the Cell Broadcast heading , and iOs settings are under the Government Alerts section of the notification menu .
Backing up absolutely everything
If you rely on a physical hard drive to back up important files – or worse, don’t back up at all – get your cloud backup up and running as soon as possible. I use Backblaze, which is great, but there are tons of options. If you’re unsure of where to start, Lifehacker has several online backup service guides to help. Be sure to take photos and / or videos of your home, yard and any other property you insure in case you need to file a claim, and back them up.
Use social media to your advantage
A physical meeting place is critical to your contingency plan, but you should also have a social media “meeting” plan, especially if you have out-of-town people worried about you. Consumer Reports recommends choosing one enrollment platform and making sure each family member has the appropriate app installed on their phones. For remote family and friends, designate one person outside the disaster area as your contact. Ask this person to be available for review and update information to other interested parties so you can focus on more important things.