Yesterday afternoon the power went out here in our nook of San Diego. Just as I started to investigate what the cause was, my wife called me from her work about 20 miles north of here. It turned out her power was out too. It quickly became apparent that a massive power outage had occurred effecting millions of people in the Southwest. What followed was a multi-hour grid-locked traffic jam as people struggled to get home while all traffic signals were out. My wife’s 30 minute commute to pick-up our daughter and head home turned into a four hour saga. Props to AT&T for being one of the few cell services still functioning. Props to Milwaukee’s 12v Power Port for keeping my only connection to the outside world alive.
Once the scope of the Electrapocalypse became apparent, I started to do an assessment of available resources. During the crisis, the cell phone quickly became an essential source of not only info (I had limited internet connectivity, but friends texted news updates to me), but it also became a vital link to my family as we attempted to rendezvous back home. With rumors of the Electrapocalypse stretching into days, my aging iPhone’s battery wouldn’t make it far on its own.
Luckily, Milwaukee had just recently sent out their 12v Power Port for review. Described as being able to fully charge five devices on a single charge, I was confident my three fully charged 12v Red Lithium batteries and the Power Port would keep my lone high tech survival gear going no matter how long the outage lasted. The 12v Power Port is a relatively simple device, but when you need it, you’ll be very grateful it’s on hand. It’s bad enough to start living like the 1800’s (no Internet, going to bed early, no power tools, etc), the last thing you want is to lose your cell/smartphone too.
The Milwaukee 12v Power port accepts a 12v Milwaukee Lithium Ion battery on one side and has a flip-down lid on the other side which exposes a 12v car-style input and a usb port. These two ports will let you charge devices like cell phones, gps units, mp3 players, cameras, etc. The Power Port is useful not only for Electropocalypse-style events, but also for more mundane things like travel, or just long hours on the job when your gear needs another hit of juice.
A small led on the top gives you an approximate charge indication. Solid green means you have 11%-100% charge, slow blinking green = 1%-10% and fast blinking green means less than 1%. Despite powering up my iphone a couple times, I thankfully never got past solid green. With my two other 12v Red Lithium batteries to spare, I knew I could juice up quite a few phones over the next several days if needed. As you might guess from this article showing up the day after, our power was restored in the middle of the night.
Here are a few tips to consider for dealing with emergencies, power outages, natural disasters, etc. :
- Have a clear family emergency plan, that covers contingencies like your family being separated. We had one, but lucking out with cell coverage still provided piece of mind.
- Invest in a small crank radio, preferably one that can charge your cell phone via usb port. Without cell service, the radio would have been our only source of news.
- Have a good stash of emergency food and supplies on hand. We lucked out that the outage was as short as it was. We just returned from a trip and had very little food on-hand. I might have turned to urban hunting if things got dire. I’m picturing something along the lines of this scene with Will Smith from I Am Legend.
- If you don’t cook with gas, keep a portable stove with adequate fuel available. We have a gas stove and gas BBQ which I offered up to the neighbors for cooking food before it went bad.
- Consider investing in a portable generator. If you do, make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel and oil on-hand for it, and that it’s properly maintained. Our neighbor was out siphoning gas out of his truck after he realized he only had about 10 minutes of fuel in the generator. He also needed to scrounge oil from another neighbor. We’ll be keeping our eyes open for a good small, quiet, powerful portable backup generator to review on HomeFixated as well.
- Have lots of water on-hand and rotate your stash regularly so it’s always fresh. Your hot water heater can also be used for emergency water supplies if things get desperate.
- Keep an emergency bag or pack stashed so you have essential survival goods if you need to evacuate by car or even on foot (more on this in a future HomeFixated article).
- Have several good LED flashlights and even an LED lantern available, along with plenty of batteries. LED’s have a long run-time before fully draining a battery.
- If you use candles or burn anything for heat, be extremely cautious about fire / carbon monoxide risks. Have fire extinguishers handy as you might turn into the fire department if they’re unable to respond.
- Get to know your neighbors if you don’t already, and stay on good terms with them. When things go sideways, neighbors can band together to share resources and information.
If you have some disaster preparedness and survival tips of your own, please share them in the comments below.
Oh, and last but not least, you should buy a Milwaukee 12v Power Port. It’s on sale for just $29 from our sponsor Ohio Power Tool!