Being a Ham Radio operator, one of the things we do is volunteer for helping in times of emergency with communications. We try and stay ready for those emergency situations and here's some of the tech we use and you can use to stay informed on what is going on. I posted a story about this kind of stuff before, and wanted to bring it up again for this situation.

Rich's Grundig FR-200
Keep a Radio Handy - Photo by Rich Lawrence/TSM

In my last article, which was about a slightly inconvenient power outage, I wasn't as fully prepared as I should have been, but I was able to function somewhat. A simple battery or dynamo powered radio is something you should have handy for emergencies. Basically so you can keep up with what is going on and get the latest info on the situation should the power go out.

But what about smartphones? They could work, but there are a few draw backs. If the power is out for a long time and you need to charge it, how will you do that? You planning on going to your car in high winds and rain to sit there for a couple hours while your phone charges? And not all cell towers have emergency backup power so coverage could become limited. Or worse yet, what if a tower goes down totally. I admit, that last one is highly improbable, but not impossible.

With that simple battery powered radio you just pop in a fresh set of batteries and you're good for a dozen hours or so. That dynamo powered radio, you're set till the whole thing is done as to power it, you just give it a few dozen cranks every couple hours.They're not expensive and you can get them at your local Radio Shack.

Also, a battery powered police/fire/ems scanner is handy too. You can keep up with what is going on locally. You can even listen to National Grid's radios to see how they are progressing with restoring the power. Also, listen in to ham radio repeaters, as some hams could be working with local civil emergency services passing information back and forth.

Of course you could always get your ham radio license too and get a radio and be able to talk to others to get and share information about what is going on, but I know not everyone would be interested in the hobby. But if you questions about it in general, feel free to ask.

For all the cool gadgets and neat smartphones and tablets we have, without an outside connection, they won't help out other than to keep you amused while you play Angry Birds waiting for the power to come back on.

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