With just eight named storms so far, the Atlantic’s 2014 hurricane season has been a relative breeze. But there’s still a few weeks to go until the windy season officially ends on November 30. And even if we don’t get blown away before then, Mother Nature will surely kick up another fuss sometime soon, so start preparing prepare for the next disaster today.
Whether it’s a tornado, blizzard or earthquake, these five life-saving gadgets can help you survive the toughest of conditions:
You’ve probably already got a box of waterproof matches in your emergency preparedness kit, but this matchbox-sized device will do you one better — just drop it into a small cup of water and its light will shine for up to 72 hours. Safe to use even if submerged, the emergency light is powered by a magnesium-oxide battery which activates when it comes into contact with the drink. Weighing less than an ounce, costing under $10, and lasting up to 10 years without its battery degrading, the Blackout Buddy H2O is a must-have for your all-weather survival kit.
Portable batteries abound in an age when cellphones suck down power like a kid with a milkshake. But what happens when they’re drained, too? This end-to-end energy kit can harvest solar, wall, or even automotive power, storing a charge for up to six months and juicing up everything from a tablet to a lamp — all in a package that fits in a backpack with room to spare. At $399, it’s not the cheapest energy option out there, but it offers far more flexibility than portable batteries that are a fraction of the price. And as a gas-free generator, the Yeti 150 is not only a green way to fend off blackouts, it’s also great off-the-grid gear for camping or charging laptops at remote work sites.
To be clear, Hammacher Schlemmer, the company that sells this hand-cranked contraption, named its product The Best Emergency Radio — but packed with features, it’s also hard to argue with the moniker. With AM/FM and NOAA Weather bands, this triple-threat can take a charge from its crank, a solar panel (large enough to take up one entire side), or a wall plug. In addition, it not only plays audio for five hours, but it also has a digital tuner and the ability to set weather alerts across multiple counties, keeping you informed in good weather and bad. With a USB port, the $99 radio has been tested to charge an iPhone to nearly 90 percent capacity. And when it’s finally time to make a break for it, the life-saver’s LED flashlight can light the way.
All you need is a passing grade in high school physics to know that heat equals energy — it’s harnessing that power which is something of a mystery. This $129 smokeless campfire in a canister converts the heat from fire into electricity that can be used to power up your USB-powered gear. About the size of a water bottle, it can burn anything from pinecones to charcoal briquettes as fuel, letting campers and survivalists alike to cook and charge simultaneously. Twenty minutes of charging produces 60 minutes of talk-time (depending on how smoked your battery already is, of course), and you might also get a couple of burgers charred up in the process.
Anyone who’s seen The Brady Bunch episode where the family explored the Grand Canyon will remember Bobby’s survivalist instinct as he used his flashlight as a canister to store baked beans. The thing is, he probably busted that torch, because the gear of the time wasn’t exactly food-proof. But this $49 water-filtering bottle not only removes 99.999% of the bacteria out there, it has an LED light powered by three AAA batteries. Positioning the bulbs facing out, it works as a flashlight, and turning it to face inside the bottle makes it a lantern. There’s also a strobe mode in case of emergencies. But the light’s cap (or cup) is the biggest lifesaver of them all — that’s where you’re supposed to put your beans, Bobby.