FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Hurricane Sandy won’t be soon forgotten, so make sure you don't forget to prepare yourself for the next power outage.
“We were out of power for a long time,” said Susan Hughes of Norwalk. “So I’m really glad I had some good books to read.” She added that early warning ahead of Hurricane Sandy was “a gift,” as she and her husband stocked up on water and flashlight batteries. They had no power for the better part of a week, she said.
Storm preparedness itself might be a fine gift-giving theme this holiday season. Here are a few popular hi- (and low-) tech necessities you might consider giving – or receiving -- ahead of the next power outage.
Darkness might be among the first obstacles you face when the power goes out. An LED flashlight is a fine tool to have in the house because it requires less battery power and lasts longer than regular incandescent models. LED flashlights also tend to be more durable than old-fashioned bulb lights or even CFL lanterns. The Princeton Tec Torrent ($69.95) is rated for 126 lumens of brightness and it should last for roughly 30 hours on eight AAA batteries. You just have to remember where you put it before the lights went out.
Now that you can see where you’re going, it’s time to charge up your devices: this thin, light, solar-charged backup battery charger ($27.95) for cellphones, iPhones, iPads and many USB-powered devices, has a built-in LED reading light and window/windshield suction cups.
Although people born before 1990 might not be aware such a device exists, a good, old-fashioned battery-operated radio ($11.95) is a fine item to have around the house in advance of and during a storm.
Decidedly old-fashioned but definitely more fun are hand-cranked radios ($39.95) such as this one, which also comes with a digital NOAA weather alert and a three-LED flashlight, along with a smartphone charger and other features.
Alarmists might consider a more drastic approach to storm preparedness. Just peering in to the “Mayday 4 Person Deluxe Emergency Backpack Kit,” ($56.25) which contains items such as solar blankets, dust masks, water purification tablets, strike-anywhere matches and more, might make a recipient nervous.
Massive power outages can call for massive battery power, which is exactly what the APC BR1500G Back-Ups Pro 1500 ($189.99) offers. This charger, which sports 10 outlets, is not something you plug into the outlet at Starbucks to charge your phone. Rather, this monster, about the size of an old-fashioned desktop computer, is a tech lifesaver during an outage, and can charge multiple devices simultaneously. One caveat: the bigger the device you plug in, the more quickly the charger will drain.
If you’re looking to power some smaller but necessary devices, the i.sound Portable Power Max ($69.99), with five USB ports will charge the whole family’s smartphones. Additionally, LED indicators let you know how much charge you have left on the battery.
Good to have in the house whether or not there is power, is a fire extinguisher ($51.99), particularly if you’re maintaining a hot fire in the hearth for supplemental warmth.
Engine power isn’t always manifested by speed, particularly when you’re not going anywhere. During a power outage, you can tap into your vehicle’s AC current with a Belkin 300w DC/AC converter ($42.99) and charge a phone or computer or even an electric shaver (for hygiene emergencies).
One thing you might not have taken into consideration when pondering emergency-preparedness gifts: a zombie apocalypse. If you’re at all concerned about an un-dead uprising, you can rest assured that you’re prepared for everything. According to its Amazon description, the scarily pricey Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit ($299.99) contains among the following zombie-annihilation must-haves: “three knives, three machetes, a high-performance axe and a hatchet.
You can’t say you weren’t warned.