It’s happened to all of us. You’re sitting at home enjoying some quiet time in front of the TV, maybe cooking away in the kitchen, or getting some work done on the computer when all of a sudden, the power goes out. Sometimes it’s a quick surge and you’re back up and running again. But other times, it could be a long wait until you see the light again. (My fellow Ontarians, I’m sure, remember the never-ending ice storm blackout of Christmas 2013.)
We’ve gotten so used to technology being an integral part of our daily lives, how on earth can we survive without it? Luckily, it’s actually pretty easy to manage through a blackout with some great gear at home. And yes, that actually includes tech stuff, too!
Solar or battery-operated lights
Smart lighting is becoming popular these days, and beyond the “cool” capabilities, like being able to control them from your phone, there’s also the advantage with some models that they are battery-operated. And that’s advantageous not just for the sake of convenience, but also in the unfortunate case of a power outage.
The Playbulb Smart LED Candle is perfectly-suited for power outages, since it functions as both a cool digital “candle” for dinnertime or late-night reading, but also as an effective light source when you have no other. They look like regular candles, except they can light up in a rainbow of colours. You can even “blow out” the fake flame. Each Playbulb operates on three AA batteries, and can last for up to 60 days at four hours per day – more than enough to get you through a few-hour blackout. That said, if Murphy’s Law leads you to run out of batteries just when you need them, you can also turn these over and use the bottoms as tea light holders – just a match or a lighter is required.
Alternatively, you could use solar lights. The great thing about them is that while they get their power from the sun, you don’t necessarily need the sun to keep them going. In many cases, the lights will still shine bright for some time after sun exposure, giving you some much-needed brightness in the dark. I’ve even seen portable flashlights that can be charged by running them under water – ideal for a blackout situation.
I used the Freeplay Tuf Solar & Crank Multiband Rechargeable Radio with LED Light on a camping trip a few years ago, and believe it would be a great device to have in the home in case of a power outage. Why? Not only is it a flashlight you can walk around with, but it can also charge your smartphone, provide AM/FM radio and NOAA weather band weather information through its speaker, and display the time. In addition to being able to charge from the sun, you can also manually hand crank it to get additional light or audio when in a pinch.
Rechargeable battery-powered speakers
You can still keep the music going during a power outage using a battery-operated portable speaker connected to your smartphone or tablet as a music source. The Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker is small enough to carry around with you, and it can last for up to eight hours on a charge of its battery. It would make a perfect companion for some great background tunes while you catch up on that novel by candlelight until the power is restored, or for an impromptu dance and karaoke party with the kids to keep them entertained.
Stream movies on your smartphone or tablet
If you were right smack-dab in the middle of a TV binge-fest when the power went out, you can still continue watching using a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, or even a computer that still has some battery life left. Sure, you won’t get that full-screen experience. But if you want to keep watching to see what happens in the next episode of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, you can remain enthralled with the plotline. And watching in the dark might even enhance the viewing experience for you. If the kids are already in bed, consider a scary flick in bed.
As noted above, a power outage is the perfect excuse to catch up on that great novel you put down ages ago when life just got too busy to finish it. Set up a few candles, or use your battery-powered light, and curl up in bed or on the couch with an e-reader. The great thing about these devices is that the battery can last for days, even weeks. So even if it’s an extended power outage, you can keep your brain stimulated and soul calm by reading.
The Kobo Aura 6” Digital eBook Reader With Touchscreen, or example, can last for up to two months per charge. And you can adjust text to white on a black background to more easily read by candlelight.
It goes without saying that a flashlight is a necessity in a power outage, to help you navigate your home and locate all of this great tech gear. You could use a device like the aforementioned Freeplay, or consider just keeping a standard flashlight around as an emergency unit.
The Fenix 680 Lumens LED flashlight delivers, as the name implies, 680 lumens of brightness, is waterproof up to 2 metres, and is durable, made of stainless steel and aircraft-grade aluminum. The LED light can last for up to 50,000 hours.
Portable charger for your mobile device
With regular use, smartphone batteries can deplete pretty quickly. It’s always a good idea to have a portable charger on hand, and an even better idea to make sure they’re always fully charged.
I use a portable power bank like the Powerocks Magicube 6,000mAh USB Portable Chargepack, which can charge a smartphone up to four times on a single charge before it needs recharging itself. So even if you just used it to recharge your device the other day, and haven’t had the time to plug it in to juice it up again, you might still be able to use it for backup power and stay connected throughout a power outage.
If you’re really in a pinch with work, having an extra laptop battery on hand can be a lifesaver, and ensure that the power outage doesn’t impact your deadlines. Models are available for most popular laptop types, from Asus to HP and Sony.
It goes without saying that having an extra pack of batteries lying around in the house is always a good idea. And to keep the kids entertained, consider having a selection of toys-you-keep-in-the-basement, from board games, to arts and crafts that can be played, no power needed. When I need some quiet time with my son and would prefer not to turn on the TV (even if the power is working) or hand him the iPad, he has a craft box as the go-to activity. He can colour, cut out construction paper, stick on stickers, or create fun art projects to keep him busy. Set up a few Playbulbs around the kids on the floor, maybe throw a few sheets over the kitchen chairs, and they can have their very own in-the-dark craft party and fake camping trip.
Power outage? What power outage.
Check out tons of great gear to use in the event of a power outage at Best Buy Online.