How to keep your phone charged during disasters

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HOUSTON – While smartphones, tablets, and computers give us quick ways to communicate and access information, staying connected during a disaster can be tricky.

Digital devices are great as long as they're charged, but that battery doesn't last forever. Here are some tips to help keep your devices buzzing during an emergency.

Conservation

First things first, conserve the battery life you have. The American Red Cross recommends:

  • Leave an outgoing message in your voicemail that includes your status and location, and then turn off your phone.
  • Use SMS text messages, which will go through cellular networks more easily than a voice call.
  • Activate "airplane mode,quot; which prevents your phone from transmitting or receiving and greatly extends battery life.
  • Turn off apps that you are not actively using, which often drain your battery by checking your GPS location.
  • Use applications designed to identify power suction functions that you can disable.

Load

No matter how much conservation you do, your device will eventually die if it doesn't recharge. The American Red Cross recommends the following options:

  • A desktop or laptop computer can recharge your device by plugging it into the computer's USB port.
  • Portable batteries, also called "juice packs," are great for short-term recharging of your device; however, these batteries will also need to be recharged once they are depleted.
  • A charger that requires AA batteries can be used as long as you have new batteries to replace the exhausted ones.
  • A solar powered charger is a good option if the sky is sunny, but it can take up to three hours to recharge a device.
  • Plug your device into your car's charging port and it will recharge with your car's battery.
  • Crank loads are reliable and effective during power outages, but will require some elbow grease.

Most of the charging devices listed above can be found in camping and electronics stores.

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