What can you do to keep communicating during blackouts?

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Unless they live in third-world states like California folks in major metropolitan areas rarely have their lights go out because they are protected by an interconnected utility grid linked to a number of large power plants.  But, as we all know, our under-invested infrastructure means that even such a reinforced system can fail.  Fortunately, there are steps to take to keep cell phones, laptops and other gizmos running during electricity failures.

Batteries are the number one necessity for communication during blackouts.  If you have replacement batteries, or if you can recharge the batteries you have, you can keep talking.  First of all, buy extra batteries to keep on hand.  Store them in a location you will be able to access in the dark.  It’s best to purchase a sampling of AAA, AA and 9-volt batteries, the three most common sizes.  8 or 10 of each ought to do it.

For cell phones, laptops and other devises that require battery charging and resist battery changing, keep adapters on hand.  Most cell phones and such can be charged on a car’s cigarette lighter consol with an adaptor, available most places that sell cell phone accessories.  There are low-priced adapters that will convert 12-volt car batteries to the lower voltage needed by many small gizmos.  Adapters also exist for larger batteries, like those in laptops.  Ask for them wherever you bought your laptop.

Another useful piece of equipment in a blackout is a solar battery module.  The 12-volt adapters that you use to connect auto cigarette consuls to rechargeable batteries will also work between rechargeable batteries and a solar battery module.  Solar battery modules are small and can be stored anywhere.  All they require to work is a sunny window.  Do not buy one smaller than 2-watts because it will take hours to produce any useable amount of energy.  Look for solar battery modules numerous places online including siliconsolar.com and solar-electric.com.

Remember that batteries are not rechargeable unless they say so.  Disposable alkaline batteries are never rechargeable.

And think about getting your Radio Ham license.

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