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Home disaster plan in the palm of my hand

Disaster plan in my hand.Not too long ago, I came home from my evening walk to find the power in the neighborhood was out. Did I panic? I did not, thanks to various bits of technology.

I sat in my favorite chair with three items not immediately dependent on the power grid: my cellphone, my laptop computer and my hand-held, hand-powered flashlight/radio combo.

The first thing I did was look up the power company’s number, then called to find out what the problem was. I learned that a car had hit a power pole nearby and that power would be restored in about an hour.

And so I settled in for a very pleasurable hour working on my laptop and listening to NPR on my hand-cranked flashlight/radio. It was not dark and bleak in my living room, due both to the glow from my laptop (which feels like a hearth to me) and the flashlight, made by Safety Cross, by my side.

This little device gives me a small sense of security. It never needs batteries, so there’s no danger of grabbing it after a disaster only to find that it’s out of juice. It gets its power from a crank on the side, so as long as I have the energy to turn a crank, I have both light and FM radio. The bright LED flashlight has three modes: medium power, high power and flashing. There’s also an antenna, a compass and a button for a high-pitched 130-decibel siren.

Perhaps the best feature is a connection for charging a cellphone. According to the instructions, 30 seconds of cranking will provide enough power to make an emergency call.

But although the company offers adaptors that fit some 200 cellphones (with the adaptor mailed to you at no cost), there is no adaptor offered that fits my particular model. So when it’s time for me to get a new cellphone, I’ll make sure it’s compatible with my emergency power center.

I purchased this device for about $20 at Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). Someday I’ll have solar panels and be able to generate and store energy at home. Until then, I’ll be cranking away when the grid goes down.

2 Comments on Home disaster plan in the palm of my hand

  1. While standing in line at Border’s bookstore I saw another handheld model that has a whistle instead of siren.
    According to gaucha, though, we’re going to have to treat this gadget like an old grandfather clock — wind him up.

  2. lil_gaucha // May 20, 2008 at 9:21 am // Reply

    just make sure you crank the damn thing once a month, or else the juice WILL die, as we learned in a recent black out. All our hand crank flashlights were dead. So, if you can remember to crank the things once a month, you’re golden, if not, go for rechargeable batteries. Lots of them.

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