Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, even haboobs can turn a regular day into a disaster, and if you're not prepared, it can turn from disastrous to downright dangerous. While you're stocking up the liquor cabinet, boarding up the windows, and collecting the games/movies from around the house to keep any little ones happy and distracted, don't forget to prepare your phone for the rough road to come. There's a lot more to preparing your phone for severe weather than just charging it up.
Yes, you need to make sure your phone is charged. Thank you, Captain Obvious. But there's a lot more to making sure you have enough juice for the duration than just your cell phone's battery. There are smartwatches, bluetooth headphones, spare phone batteries, and a plethora of gadgets your family members may or may not remember to charge before the impending weather hits. In addition to making sure devices are charged, have a portable battery pack — heck, have two or three — charged and ready to top your phone off if your power outage lasts longer than expected. Have a car charger handy — have at least one for every vehicle in your family, quick-charging if your phone supports it.
Another power consideration should be your home Wifi. In the event power is knocked out for a large area of your town, those towers can and will be quickly overloaded. While you may not have backup generators for the whole home, you should at least consider a UPS — uninterrupted power supply — for your router and modem to try and help keep your home internet going. If you have desktop computers, they should each have one of these, too. They become quite useful during storms that are powerful enough to make the lights flicker and computers reboot.
A generator is loud, but worth it.
A UPS will generally make a lot of racket when the power goes out — their primary function is to provide enough power for you to shut down whatever system is hooked up to it before the UPS battery is depleted — but if sparingly used, they should allow you to reach the internet when you need it.
Getting your data squared away
Before you lose power and possibly internet, you should back up any pertinent data and pictures — say of your house and belongings for insurance purposes — using Drive, Google+ Photos, Dropbox or any other app/service you like. Have a list in Google Keep or Evernote to keep track of your provisions, emergency supplies, and what groceries you intend to fight little old ladies over at the grocery store during the inevitable last-minute trip.
You should look up the numbers for your power company, gas company, local law enforcement, and the city/county public roads departments. One thing that frequently accompanies severe weather is blocked and damaged roads, and reporting them is the first step to getting them cleared so you can drive them again.
Look up a few locations: find the cheapest gas stations with apps like GasBuddy, if this is gonna be a major event — like an Category 4 hurricane — you may want to download apps from the Red Cross and FEMA so you can find shelters and information later on. Also save a few locations around town that you know have decent food and free Wifi. Even if your power is off for a few days, power to businesses may be restored much sooner, and you're gonna need to find a place to fill your belly and sync your notifications.
Should you lose power and your home Wi-Fi, you could be stuck using your data for days, depending on how long the event and the clean-up takes the power crews, and that means that you should conserve data before severe weather if you're on a plan with a data cap.
Entertainment: Distraction is Magic
If you're possibly going to be stuck in your house for days — possibly without power and internet — you should probably make sure that boredom and cabin fever don't drive you mad. We've already discussed how to keep our devices powered and ready for distract us from the meteorological doom outside our front doors, but not how those devices will actually get you through the calamitous boredom.
Pin some Google Play Music playlists that everyone can agree on and some Play Movies or YouTube videos to distract your children — or yourself, because let's face it, you're going to need distracting at some point. Download some games that play well offline, including multiplayer games.
When the music and movies are done, there's always reading, and while reading may be more energy-efficient on e-ink screens like a Kindle, you can easily fit a month's worth of books on your phone. A number of books on Amazon Kindle and Google Play Books are free, especially the classics, which you may just be able to tempt your kids to read. And if you're looking for something to read to your kids and distract them from any particularly violent weather outside, many anthologies of classic fairy tales and legends are free or cheap, like Hans Christian Anderson and Arabian Nights.
Another way to hopefully distract any ankle-biters are artistic apps, such as drawing apps or dress-up apps like Google's Androidify.
Once you're prepared...
Once the kitchen is stocked, your data secure, the hatches battened down, and all is in order, you have to do one more thing: relax. Freaking out does not help you. Feel free to turn off the TV's wall-to-wall coverage — unless they're covering tornadoes, but tornadoes may not give you enough warning for you to get many preparations in at all, anyway — and chill out for a while. Take a nap, you should be exhausted after getting everything ready and besides, you've got time to kill, might as well catch up on your Zs.
How do you and your Android prepare each other for severe weather? Share your secret to success in the comments below and help your fellow readers out.
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