As I prepared myself for hurricane Irene, which swept across the East coast of the United States this past week, I thought it would be worth sharing some of my (geek) tips for surviving without power. All of these tips helped me keep my sanity for the 36 hours I went without power. While I was without for 36 hours, these tips are designed to be useful for longer periods of time as well.
1. Anyone who cares about their electronics (computers, monitors, etc) should already own a UPS (battery backup), but if you don’t, I would highly recommend going out and buying one. We have discussed picking a UPS in the past, I even did an unboxing of the UPS I currently use. What does a UPS allow you to do? Well, it gives you enough time to power down all of your computers to help ensure you don’t fry any of your hardware or corrupt your hard drive. However, in addition to preventing hardware failures, your UPS can be used to keep your modem and router online for an extended period of time. If you can keep your modem and router online, you can use a laptop to connect via WiFi and still have Internet when the power is out (at least for a while, remember to use sparingly just in case the power is out for a while).
2. If you are expecting that the power may go out (like I was when I knew this hurricane was coming) download some movies, tv shows, and music beforehand and put them on your laptop and/or iPod/iPhone/iPad for viewing and listening to help pass the time. It’s always a good idea to have some form of entertainment stored locally on a portable device just in case.
3. If you can afford one, I would definitely recommend buying a mobile hotspot (e.g. Verizon MiFi). These can be life savers in times without power. Mobile hotspots use your carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc) data network to get on the Internet. You can connect up to 5 devices (typically) to a mobile hotspot device. So for example, I connected my MacBook Air, iPad, iPhone, and Mandy’s MacBook Pro with the ability to add one more device if I wanted.
4. Buy a power inverter. Power inverters are great for times when you have really extended power outages (I’d say anything from 12 hours or more) because you can plug the inverter into your car and it will take the DC current and turn it into AC current for which you can charge your devices. The one I bought had two power outlets and a USB port (great for charging my iPhone/iPad/MiFi). They range in price depending on wattage, but expect to pay anywhere from $50 and up.
5. In order to maintain your productivity, I recommend making a list of all the stuff you want/need to do when the power comes back on. For example, I wanted to write this blog post, catch up on any emails (which I’m still doing), and test out iTunes Match.
Here’s a good bonus tip: Go outside! Take a walk, drive around, go out to a restaurant. It helps keep you sane, you do not want to be cooped up in a house or apartment for the entire time you are without power – trust me.