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All Contents © 2017The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Jeff Bertolucci, Contributing Writer
| October 2016
When disaster strikes and the grid crashes, candles will get you only so far.
So we came up with a list of seven gadgets that will help you get by when the power is out.
Stock up now so you’ll be prepared for an emergency. Take a look.
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When the electricity is knocked out, a portable power station is a quick-and-easy way to run the gadgets you need most.
The Duracell Powerpack 1300 ($200) does double-duty as home and auto charger. It delivers 600 watts of power through one DC socket and two grounded AC outlets. Its two USB ports are handy for charging your laptop, cellphone, or tablet. Plug the Powerpack into an AC outlet as soon as you get it, and it’ll stay fully charged for emergencies. It has a bright LED light for emergencies, an air compressor for pumping up tires, and detachable jumper cables for starting a car battery.
How do you keep a freezer full of food from spoiling during a lengthy outage? The DuroStar DS4000S (about $330) is a gas-fueled generator that cranks out 3,300 continuous watts of power, with a peak of 4,000 watts. This 92-pound power station has a four-gallon fuel tank and runs up to eight hours (at half-load). It won’t power everything in your house, such as an energy-hogging electric water heater or range/oven, but it will keep your fridge and a few other items humming. The optional wheel kit (around $35) makes the DS4000S much easier to move around—a boon during emergencies.
You want a disaster-rated radio that will keep working in any situation—including when you've run out of batteries.
Eton’s American Red Cross FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger (about $50) runs on solar power, DC input, an internal rechargeable battery, a pair of conventional AAA batteries, or a hand turbine. Crank the side handle for a minute for 10 to 15 minutes of radio and flashlight use. The FRX3 can receive AM, FM, shortwave and weather-alert broadcasts. It includes an LED flashlight and can charge your smartphone or other mobile device via a USB cable. The glow-in-the-dark locator and red flashing beacon are pretty handy during emergencies too.
For checking the latest news during a power outage, the RCA DPTM70R 7-Inch LED-Lit TV (around $80 on Amazon.com) is good to have in your home. A rechargeable TV that weighs just one pound, it features a seven-inch, LED-backlit LCD display for watching over-the-air stations for more than two hours. The built-in SD flash drive and USB port let the kiddies watch videos on the device as well. Two speakers deliver stereo sound, and the headphone jack is handy for private listening.
A rechargeable lantern will light up a room, but what about the rest of your house? Rather than stockpiling multiple lamps, get the Coleman Quad LED Lantern (about $46). Featuring four detachable light panels, each with six bright LEDs, the Quad is four lanterns in one and shines for up to 75 hours. Each panel has its own on/off switch and recharges on the base, which uses eight D-cell batteries. Also consider the Coleman Duo LED Lantern (around $36), which shines for up to 56 hours and has two pop-off lights for emergencies.
When water from the municipal supply may not be safe to drink due to contamination by fire, bacteria, chemical spills or other events, turn to a water-purification system such as the Katadyn Combi (about $220). This portable unit filters out bacteria, protozoa, sediments and other contaminants. Its two-stage carbon-and-ceramic filter produces about one liter of drinkable water per minute. Katadyn’s optional faucet-mount adaptor (around $65) makes the Combi convenient for ongoing home use, too.
Cordless, cellular and Internet phones may be popular, but the venerable corded handset has one distinct advantage: When paired with landline phone service, it’s the odds-on favorite to keep working during a blackout. The AT&T 210 Trimline phone is a sturdy, no-frills model that starts at around $9 to $13 online. Landline phone service is cheap, too, provided you avoid the extras.
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