Preparing Your Computer and Devices for Severe Weather
March 1, 2021
As Texans, we’re all too familiar with the dangers of severe weather conditions, whether they’re caused by a winter freeze or by a hurricane or tropical storm. We know how to prepare our homes, what supplies to stock up on, and what essentials to pack in the event of an evacuation. Similarly, preparing the right electronics and taking the right precautions for them can make a huge difference in staying safe as well as staying connected with loved ones. Here are some steps to take when preparing your devices for severe weather conditions.
Charge All Your Devices Ahead of Time
If you’re expecting any kind of severe weather, charge your phone, tablet, computer, and any portable chargers or back up batteries. If you don’t have back up batteries or portable chargers, there are several options at different price points that can be found online or at an electronics store near you. They can add hours to your battery life. If necessary, your laptop’s battery can serve as a secondary source of power to recharge your phone as well.
Protect Your Devices from Power Surges
Power outages and lighting strikes can damage your electronics if they’re plugged in, so either plug them into surge protectors or charge them ahead of time and then unplug them before a storm. You should also unplug or use surge protectors on any other devices that are usually plugged in like appliances, game consoles, televisions, and desktop computers. In the case of a severe lightning storm, it would be much safer to just unplug your devices rather than use surge protectors. A direct or even nearby lighting strike can produce a much higher power surge than either faulty wiring or downed power lines can.
Conserve Battery Life
Devices that you know you’ll need sooner or later, such as your phone, should only be used when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you’ll need to keep them charged using a surge protector or, in the case of lightning, turn them off to save battery life. For any non-essential activities, it’s best to prepare and use other devices instead of the phone or computer you plan on using for emergencies. If you want to hear the latest news about the weather conditions in your area, for instance, a battery-powered radio with plenty of spare batteries would be a very useful addition to your list of supplies to get before a storm hits. If you want to entertain your kids with games or movies, download them beforehand onto a tablet or computer you know you won’t need. Making sure you have a way to call for help, arrange for transportation, or find shelter if necessary is vital, and the best way to do that is to have at least one device fully charged and reserved for those situations.
Leave Electronics in High and Dry Places and Away from Windows
Minimize the chances of your devices getting wet as much as possible. This is especially important if you live in an area that floods. Finding a place in your home that is safe from water as well as easily accessible will help you get the most out of your devices when you need them the most.
Back Up Your Devices Regularly
If you don’t already back up your devices regularly or have them scheduled to do so, now’s the time to start. This is especially important if you’ve been working from home. If possible, back up your data and files to a cloud-based service like Google Drive or Dropbox. This will be the easiest way to recover your personal or work-related documents in the event your device is either lost or damaged.
Switch Off Data for Non-Essential Smartphone Apps
Be prepared to turn off data to apps you don’t need in case you lose power. If you have an iPhone, go to “Settings”, and select “Cellular.” From there, scroll down and toggle off all the apps besides ones you use to communicate. For Android users, tap “Wireless & Networks” and then “Data Usage.” From there, tap “Network Access” and clear the checkbox for each non-essential app. Switching off all the apps that you won’t need will save a significant amount of battery life on your phone. Following these tips will give you and your family the best chance at minimizing damage to your devices and electronics, keeping or recovering important data stored on them, and being able to use them to their fullest in the event they can help you through a difficult situation.