Here comes Hurricane Isaac: Charge 'em if you got 'em

Some 364 days ago, we talked a little bit about how your smartphone can help you prepare for natural disasters. (At least for the ones that you have time to prepare for.) That was Hurricane Irene. Now, we've got another I-storm (excuse the pun) headed for United States, with Isaac. (And, yes, more specifically, the Gulf Coast and your's truly.)

Here are some of the tips we brought you last year, updated with some new ones.

  • Charge your phones. Now. Keep them charged. And once the storm starts, keep them off. You'll likely lose power at some point, and there's a good chance your local cell network will go down for a bit, even with generator backups.
  • Spare batteries. If you got 'em, make sure they're charged, too. If you still have time to get some, do it.
  • Car charger. Get one. Get a couple, actually.
  • After the storm, text messages may work best. If the network's up, it's going to be clogged, and calls might not go through. Text messages have a much better chance.
  • If you're worried about damage and don't have a traditional camera, use your phone to take a few pictures of your home and your belongings. It'll make insurance claims much easier, should it come to that.
  • While you still have power and internet access, be it on your phone or broadbad, take advantage of features like instant uploading on Google+ Dropbox to make sure those pictures get somewhere that can't be destroyed by the storm. Better to be safe than sorry in that case.
  • If you just have to use Instagram during a storm, don't use a damn filter. Folks wanna see what's happening, and filters don't help that.
  • Use apps like Evernote to help keep track of your emergency supplies. 
  • Before the storm, use those gas-finder apps to track down the cheapest petrol. That won't help you with the lines, but it may save you a few bucks.
  • See if your phone can serve as an FM radio, if you don't have any others around. (That's not out of the question in 2012.
  • Apps from FEMA (opens in new tab) and the Red Cross (opens in new tab) can help you find shelters and other emergency information.

Those are but a few ways your phone can get you through this. Have a tip you'd like to share? Let's hear 'em in the comments! And good luck, everyone. Stay safe.

Phil Nickinson
  • Lovin' the Instagram tip. In fact, these are great tips for any impending natural disaster such as the southern Californian home-grown earthquakes I've come to know and love. Any minute now... Also, I would recommend anyone in Isaac's path without a case on their phone to grab one if only for the duration of the storm. With lots of debris flying around (and accumulating thereafter) you can't be too careful to make sure your phone receives the least possible amount of damage should it be dropped, bumped, hit, etc.
  • What weather app is that?
  • That's a webpage in chrome.
  • That's the NOAA web page but there is a nice app that uses their data and works on both phones and tablets called SeaStorm. It is very well made.
  • Also get your local tv news apps most cities channels have one or two. Hefes Pensacola
  • thanks!
  • Lol, "Petrol" I much prefer putting gasoline in my car ;)
    Silly Brits hehe
  • Unless you have a phone with non-replaceable batteries, skip point number 2 lol... Personally I keep my laptops charged as a backup and have used that to recharge my phone too!
  • Stop bitching and get a Damn generator
  • That or a solar charger might not be a bad idea.
  • I feel a 12 volt car charger is one of the must have accessories any phone user should have.
  • There's also specific apps that track the hurricanes for you.
    I won't mention any by name, but there are quite a few good ones out there.
  • One question.
    Did somebody get
    paid to write this ?
    I'll give you this, since your tech writing days are all but over or at the very least, going nowhere fast, There's always a future in comedy writing or worse, as one of those "the sky is falling", local news reporters, who "warn" us to buy milk and bread every time it's going to snow.
    Seriously, I've never read such useless B.S.
    On a tech site before.
    God forbid some whiney kids can't text or use their "phones" for a few hours... how will they survive without angry birds or Facebook! How will they be able to tell their cyber friends is raining, and they got wet
    It's a hurricane people, not a civilization destroying meteor.
    Put down your toys and go do something useful. Maybe help your parents put away your yard toys or go stock up on Adolescent Diapers.
  • Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
  • You must feel good about yourself huh... Remember these Hurricanes?... Just to name a few. Billions in damages. Thousands of lives lost, but these are just Hurricanes right? Yes this is a tech site but it is a tech site that cares about it's community. So run along now and troll someone else.
  • Well, someone definitely needs an hour with a psychiatrist *issues*. Anyway, be safe guys.
  • Yeah it's just a hurricane that could rip your house apart and send a two by four through your spleen. N.B.D.
  • @elvee68 Thank You. It never seems to amaze me how many dumb asses are out there
  • My first thought on a FM radio on a phone was it was not needed and a novelty, that all changed last April. I live in North Alabama and in April last year we had a major Tornado outbreak. I was at work when all of a sudden, all of our power went out. The only information we had was, as crazy as it sounds, was my FM Radio on my android phone. We immediately started hearing reports that a major Tornado was headed straight for us (later we found out it was an F5 Tornado, the biggest and strongest Tornado there is). Me and my coworkers, in my department, took shelter and within a couple of minutes took a direct hit. Two of my coworkers, located in a different part of the building, died and one friend also lost his life that day. To me this simple technology built into some phones SAVED my life and many of my fellow coworkers. So never take advantage of this simple FM radio, it might save your life one day like it did us. Great tips Phil!
  • i like this for the beach bag - and for emergencies - Sprint Travel Charger PLUS - Item # PGU3939V_C This charger connects your phone to a wall power outlet for simultaneous talk and charge. Features a high-capacity internal battery for charging while on the go. * 1800mAh Lithium Polymer Internal Battery
    * Built-in Micro-USB Cable and USB port
    * LED indicator displays internal battery charge level
    * Includes 5ft Micro and Mini USB cable
  • Well I am not affected by the hurricane as I'm on the other side of the country but you be safe out there Phil and all you ewaistcoat residents
  • Hey Phil your in p'cola right? I'm over in Milton hurricane party at your place:) No need to worry bout this little storm we get worse isolated storms here everyone's to worried. Fatties aren't allowed generators if needed. Sweat off a few pounds.
  • Stay safe down there, Phil!
  • I am in an eastern suburb of Tampa (30 minutes with traffic from downtown and the bay itself) and fortunately I may not be affected all that much given the current projected path, but I am still on alert because one shift to the east can make all the difference. We have battery packs and we will use them but I recommend one other thing be used, if possible: If power is lost, call forwarding should send everything to one phone. While texting is nice, if battery power becomes of the essence, why have 3 or 4 phones running when you can have one up and all phone calls sent there for emergencies? Then switch phones/call forwardings as needed. Granted this is an extreme case, but you never know how long power outages can last or what damage can be done, and how a simple idea of using even the car/car battery to charge a phone may not be possible. (A tree through the garage could nix that in a hurry.) This came in handy for friends back in Ohio when that derecho hit that devastated the area and left some people powerless for a week -- and they had it worse than me dealing with the flooding rains of Debby around that same time. At any rate, with the RNC set to start Monday (now with schedule changes, of course) I hope everyone is safe and sound, especially if Issac shifts to the east. May we get lucky and Issac shears up and is just a rain event, but I fear these Cat 2 predictions may be true.
  • Don't forget to download a flashlight app if you don't already have one! Also if you have an external battery pack for your phone, make sure that's fully charged as well. I'm in Virginia and have a 10,000mAh one. It worked extremely well when we lost power a few weeks ago.