We just had a summer thunderstorm sweep through my area and it made me think.  What sort of things should everyone have on-hand in the event of severe weather?

My first recommendation is to have a NOAA Weather radio on hand. These can be purchased at Radio Shack, through Amazon.com, or through any number of disaster/emergency supply vendors on the Web.  I actually have three different types of weather radio.

The first-line radio is a desktop model that doubles as an AM/FM clock radio.  This one is actually not in production any more, but there are a lot of different makes and models on the market.  I highly recommend getting one that has SAME technology built into it.  SAME technology allows you to pinpoint the area in which the radio alert goes off.  It’s not necessarily useful to have a weather alert for a town two counties away.

I have a portable multi-power Kaito KA007 weather radio on my bookshelf for when the power goes out.  It has battery power and available AC power, and can has internal rechargeable batteries that can be powered through a hand-crank or solar power.  This is also an older model, and has AM/FM radio, Weather radio, analog TV audio reception as well as four different shortwave bands.  Why do I want a hand crank on my radio?  With the power out, the crank allows me to keep the radio powered even if the batteries die.

The last type of weather radio that I have is actually a hand-held 2-way radio made by Motorola. These operate on two different public radio bands and there are legal requirements to one of them.  Do your homework before using these, but they come in handy in many situations.

My second recommendation is to stash a few decent flashlights around the house in easily accessible locations.  Lights come in two different types: incandescent and LED.  The latter is my preference because they are not going to burn out, and they tend to be brighter while sucking up less power.

One thing to bear in mind here is that a flashlight does no good if it’s dead when you need it.  For that reason, I recommend a flashlight that uses CR-123 type batteries.  These suckers have a 10-year shelf life, so they will most likely have juice when you need them.  Unfortunately, most lights that take the CR-123 batteries are quite expensive, but Lighthound has one for about $15.00 that has both an LED “bulb” and takes CR-123 batteries.  The Lighthound CR-1 flashlight is small and durable, with the added benefit of being a “twist-on” light, so there is no risk of accidentally turning on in a drawer or in your pocket.  Also, at a price point of $15.00 they are affordable enough to have several stashed all around the house, or even one for everybody’s pocket.

Flashlights are good for directional and spot lighting, but it also helps to have something for area lighting.  If you’re the handy type, you can make your own solar charging “sun jar” and have them always ready.  On the other hand, there are various lanterns available on the market.  I often use a single candle lantern because of the convenience.  I keep meaning to get a 3-candle lantern because it gives off more light, but it keeps slipping my mind. I also use an old Coleman liquid fuel lantern, but am planning on upgrading to a Coleman propane lantern because the fuel is less likely to cause problems in the lantern if left attached, unlike the liquid fueled one.

My third recommendation is to have some way to keep your cell phone charged.  These days, most people have cordless phones.  These are no good if the power goes out because they need electricity to power the base station.  When the power goes out, it’s best to have some way to communicate, and cell phones are everywhere these days.  I use a Solio Classic solar charger/battery for my cell phone.  It holds a charge for a long time, and can fully charge my phone at least once.  It will also charge my wife’s iPhone.  The Solio has has charging tips available for most brands of portable electronics, so it is versatile as well.

The last time we had a power outage, my wife discovered something that I hadn’t thought of:  Social media is a useful tool for finding out your local situation.  She was on Twitter on her iPhone, and in contact with several local people who were talking about the local situation and reporting information on power restoration efforts.  She was also in contact with the chief meteorologist (head weather man) from one of the TV stations in our city, so she was well informed of the weather situation, which helped her state of mind immensely.  She was able to know how long the storm was expected to last and how severe it was expected to get.

Look for a post on the value of social media in emergencies in the near future.  There’s a lot to talk about, there!