Hurricane Season and Other Weather Events
Do you have your emergency communication kit for home ready? Out here along the Eastern coastline, we got to deal with hurricane season. Despite what you may think from watching CNN or the Weather Channel, once a hurricane passes Boston, it’s heading right at me, being based in Nova Scotia, 8-12 hours later. Depending on how the Altantic ocean waters are temperature wise; most of the time it veers into the open waters. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t get the tail end or tropical storms. Getting winds above 80 kms/h is not uncommon. Like Hurricane Juan, Noel.
The hurricane damage scale is usually good for our area, except that due to our low top soil depth, the tree damage tends to be +1 from conditions. That means power outages are fairly regular when we get these storms with high winds.
Be Prepared With Your Communications Kit or Lights Out Kit
This post will focus on your emergency communication kit. A lot of the items mentioned here are probably already in your house, but is across several kits. We will focus on having basic sustainable communication awareness during a power outage. You may want to augment this kit but this is what I came up with. I consider most of the brand names agnostic; meaning look at the category rather than brand name,
My criteria for this kit was simple.
- Off the Grid Power
- Low Cost
Core Item 1 – Solar Panel & Power Bank
This one is simple, if the power goes out, you need a way to charge your smartphone and other USB devices. The core of the kit is my Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel and Guide 10 plus battery pack. This is a great starter. You may find a better combination but here you have a 7 watt solar panel that can trickle charge your USB chargeable devices or top up your batter pack / power bank.
The great thing about this item is the mesh pouch; this allows me to stuff in every type of USB adapter for wall or car charger and cables you can think of. The Guide 10 battery pack is great if you have AA battery items to recharge and you have an LED light that you can hang.
Core Item 2- Radio
This may be overlooked but having a radio that you are able to receive your local AM, FM and Weather band frequencies is good way to know what’s going on while hunkered down. I use mostly while camping this Sony compact radio This is old school but using new school tech. Battery life using AA batteries should last you 7 day while running 24 hours. Another option is to use the ETON FRX2 radio I’ve had the Red Cross branded version for a few years and it has few features that might be useful to consider: AM/FM radio, Weather frequencies, LED lights, Solar panel, internal battery & dynamo crank charger.
Core Item 3- Smartphone
Having the above items will guarantee that your smartphone will be able to be operational during a multi day power outage.
Obviously I’ll mention to have a few apps installed like a weather app. However the biggest aid you can have is Twitter installed and have a list created of all your primary EMO accounts. I have a sample list of accounts I’ve added to my EMO list. You don’t have to be subscribed to the accounts in order to add them to your list.
With these three core items, you should be able to stay in the “know” during an emergency event and keep your smartphone charged. So here are two additional items you may want to consider.
Optional Item 1 – LED Lantern
While we already have LED lights on our battery pack and radio, having a diffuser LED lantern is a good option to have to keep a bedroom illuminated if you are confined in a room or basement with no power. Here, I’ll recommend the LuminAID packlight 16.This is a 65 lumens (or 5 watt bulb) inflatable lantern that has an internal battery and can last up to 30 hours on its lowest light setting. It also has a signal light setting for certain situations. It packs small and flat; the battery at full charge can be stored up to 30 hours if you decide to stow it away.
Optional Item 2- inReach Satellite Communication
This is where I divert from other similar kits. Most may want to steer you towards an amateur radio handheld. While these are good units, a few things to consider.
- Buying cheap does not equal quality
- You have to know how the unit works
- Getting your amateur radio certificate does help
- Joining the local radio club helps to know what the etiquette is during an EMO event
In short, if you want to learn the hobby there’s nothing wrong about taking the time and getting your certificate and getting a feel of the local radio scene (I’m VA1CYR). However, you do need to spend the hours getting to know your unit, what it’s capable of and how useful it will be during an emergency event. You may not want to put in this time investment.
In which case the inReach SE or Explorer is money better spent. Since you can use 2-way text & email. One way twitter & facebook AND weather forecasts. It’ a much more flexible device to let people know outside the emergency zone if you are safe. The added bonus of including your location gives your relatives the peace of mind EXACTLY where you are.
Since you have your EMO twitter list handy, you will get more better information via your smartphone.