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.