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It wasn't until my house caught fire that I realized the importance of a power bank

A little girl holding power banks smirks as a house burns on fire in the background
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

In case you couldn't guess by the headline already, my residence had a fire outbreak very recently. This isn't the sort of incident one expects, but unfortunately, bad things tend to happen without warning. And it isn't until such a harrowing experience happens in person that you realize the value of certain things.

For me, it was a horrifying incident, and a first in my life. Among many other things, the unfortunate incident taught me to appreciate the most underrated piece of tech you can imagine: portable power banks. Yes, you read that right. If you're feeling confused, let me give you some context.

In the thick of it all

Burning matchstick held in hand

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Imagine this: You're chilling in your bedroom, typing away at your laptop. Various family members are out and about the house. Your cat is napping near your feet, and it's almost dinner time. 

As you ponder over the menu for the night, the power goes out and you are suddenly engulfed in utter and complete darkness. An urgent, loud knock bursts into the silence, interrupting your line of thought.

Of all the things that you'd expect to happen, this is possibly the worst. News of a fire downstairs throws your mind into a state of panic; your Pixel 6 is almost dead, and there's no source of light on a hot, humid monsoon night. Dread creeps into your mind along with a flurry of panicked thoughts, including feelings of regret for not having gone with the Pro model.

Since we were all completely unprepared for such an event, a lot of our emergency lights were hidden away in dusty corners or just flat dead.

This is exactly what happened to me on the eve of Galaxy Unpacked 2022. Thankfully, the fire was contained just in time and nobody was hurt. As I sat in the stuffy dark apartment, trying to stay calm and figure out what to do next, we had a single source of power in the entire household to shed some light: my Baseus Blade 100W battery pack.

Equipped with a seemingly meagre 20,000 milliamps, the laptop power bank was unbelievably useful in our time of need. Since we were all completely unprepared for such an event, a lot of our emergency lights were hidden away in dusty corners or just flat dead. I was able to power multiple lamps off of the Baseus Blade. The power bank helped us charge a couple of phones enough to keep them alive for a while longer, which was enough time for us to contact the relevant authorities and get status updates from neighbors.

What to do when Plan B fails

Jackery Explorer 300, Baseus Blade, Chromebook

(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

Having a backup source of power for such emergencies is such a necessity. A lot of us rely on backup generators in areas prone to regular power cuts, but we should have a Plan C in place when Plan B fails. 

Ironically, it was our backup generator that had gone ablaze in the midst of a power outage. There was no electricity supply in the entire neighborhood. What do you do when your backup fails?

That is why for the love of all that you hold dear, I implore you to get some decent portable power stations. It pays to be prepared, and sometimes, it can even save a life. 

Most quality battery packs don't cost much, and come with multiple ports. If you can afford it, I highly recommend a versatile power station as well. Keep a mix of these gadgets at hand and periodically check to see if they are charged fully.

It pays to be prepared, and sometimes, it can even save a life.

If your household consists of multiple individuals, it's an even better idea to have every person invest in a reliable power bank with a high power output. Should the worst happen to you or someone you care about, they can at least grab a small battery pack and rush to safety. A dead smartphone is as good as nothing.

Wireless portable power banks are super useful if your phone supports wireless charging. Panic does horrible things to the human mind, and one might forget to grab a cable when scrambling to safety. Another clever solution is to get something with a built-in cable.

When you're facing an emergency situation that may or may not be life threatening, you need to be properly equipped to deal with the scene at hand. Having as little as 5,000mAh at hand in the form of a tiny battery pack can help you get assistance in time, just like I did.

Clearly, I am not knowledgeable enough about backup power solutions and emergency preparedness. That is why I went to my colleague Chris Wedel for his expert advice, which could greatly benefit both you and me in the future. Here's what he had to say about prepping for power outages caused by events that are out of your control.

Expert advice for your emergency power needs

EcoFlow Delta Pro Camping

(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

The following passages have been written by Senior Editor Chris Wedel: 

While I have been fortunate not to have been in a fire situation like my colleague, my family and I live in Kansas, which is squarely part of Tornado Alley. This means that we get plenty of severe storms that, in addition to the tornadoes which send us to our storms shelter for cover, we also have high winds, hail, lightning, and heavy rain. This regularly leads to power outages, which is where backup power is essential.

Like Namerah's fire emergency, these power outages can last minutes, hours, and at times, days. Thankfully, my family has avoided direct hits from tornadoes, but I try to prepare the best I can to handle them. I keep at least one of the best high-capacity power banks charged to 80%, which helps extend the cells' health. If we know there are chances for severe weather — I'll charge it up all the way.

While high capacity devices like portable power stations can be expensive, in an emergency, they are priceless.

But aside from keeping a power bank ready, I also ensure I have a power station prepped. The portable power stations offer a larger capacity than a power bank and provide more ports. While these devices can be expensive, in an emergency, they are priceless. Not to mention can be very handy in other situations.

Smaller power stations like the Fanttik EVO 300 can provide up to 300W of power, perfect for lamps, laptops, phones, and other small appliances. Then there are options like the EcoFlow Delta Pro with 3600W, which is enough power to run major appliances like a refrigerator, space heaters, air conditioners, and more. 

Even better is that you can recharge most power stations with a solar panel, so if power is out for a long time, you can keep your power station up and running.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Contributing Writer

Namerah Saud Fatmi is a contributing writer for Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech & gaming and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim. You can reach her on Twitter @NamerahS.