Gadget Gifts To Help You Survive The Next Power Outage, Norwalk

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It's always a good to be prepared for the next Storm of the Century. A little shopping can go a long way.
It's always a good to be prepared for the next Storm of the Century. A little shopping can go a long way. Photo Credit: Flicker user AllEquipped

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.


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Comments (4)

First, you don't have been born prior to 1990 to be ready, just talk to someone who was - and make sure they are a veteran, because we know how to be prepared for the unexpected. Our lives depended on it!

Personally I have 10 days worth of water (1 gallon/day/person) for everyone in my house (3) plus an extra 5 gallons [re-filled large water bottles]; military MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) for all of us for 7 days [Cheaper-Than- Dirt, on the net]; 48-battery packs of D, C, AA and AAA for flashlights, etc.(from Costco) for the 10 battery-powered flashlights in the house, two flashlights plugged into outlets which trigger the flashlights "ON" when the power goes out; 3 sets of 'headlights' powered by AA batteries, 3 fire extinguishers (one at the furnace, one by the gas oven and one by the fireplace; two emergency first aid kits (one in basement, one of second floor) and plenty of blankets - both woven and survival [WalMart].

Lastly, I'm less worried about 'zombies' and more worried about looters and criminal opportunists who travel in gangs, and would be more likely to go into houses with lights on in a neighborhood which had lost power. So we all have CT State Concealed Carry Permits, and handguns and shotguns with lethal and non-lethal ammo (Cheaper-Than-Dirt) with attached flashlights and laser aiming devices to insure target identification and accuracy.

It's NOT an extreme measure as some might state, it's an unfortunate fact that we are responsible for our own safety. With all the emergencies we saw with Sandy, how many hundreds of thousands of people couldn't get help from the police or rescue for DAYS, and had to take care of themselves. Crimes were committed against businesses and people which could have been avoided, but people weren't prepared for this.

As an example, down on SHIPPAN POINT in Stamford, there were a few roving gangs breaking into houses and looting - except at the house where the owner sat outside with his AR-15 laying across his lap - they avoided getting anywhere near him!!! And he came out of the storm with no losses due to other people. An ounce of prevention, . . .

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. ???? Julie Curtis might like to know people born before 1990 are more than aware that transistor radios are powered by batteries!!!

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.???? Old Fashion Julie? Really? Digital alerts and LED's?

Julie Curtis is reporting bass ackwards,..probably born after 1990


We have a hand cranked radio and a hand cranked flashlight in our emergency kit. Let me say that if you are out of battery power, it takes five minutes of cranking to get the radio to store up enough charge to work. Five minutes is a L-O-N-G time! Fun isn't the word that comes to mind when we're busy spinning those handles! I'll be restocking batteries for that radio in the near future. We had the regular CD/AudioTape/Radio with batteries and that worked just fine.

The LED flashlights are interesting, though. The bulbs seem more sturdier than the traditional ones, although I still don't really like the cold, blue light. However, people swear up down, left and right that they use less battery power.

We happened to have a head lamp in the house when the lights went out and that was really great when you needed to do something with both hands and still needed directed light. Once they get back in stock, I'll be buying more of those, too. Great Christmas Stocking stuffer!

Hi Paige,
Hope you had a grand Thanksgiving!
Yeah crank radios have been around for 20 years that I know of. They get handed out in disaster areas by FEMA. I've never used one. You're right about the LED's blueish light, I don't care for the newer headlights on cars either, especially when they are coming towards me, but wow do they give a great vision of the road.

I was just commenting on somebody thinking people born before 1990 not knowing about battery operated transistor radios. I had one strapped to my handle bars in 63. One was a must when up on a ladder painting houses as a side job in the early 70's. I think I have 3 or 4 Walkman types around here somewhere as well.
My kids always get flashlights of some kind in their stocking. :-)
Luckily I only lost power long enough to toss me off-line about 20 times in 36 hours during the worst part of the storm but never long enough for the ceiling fan to come to a complete stop.
I bet Eastern Sport has head lamps. L.L.Bean does but a little pricey maybe.
I have a universal adapter that I use to charge things off my cars cigarette lighter socket. I think I got that at Radio Shack.