power gridIn last week's Tech News Digest, I wrote about the Apple's cool new iPhones: the XS, XS Max and XR. Each of the new smart phones has several features that make it worth considering.

Despite their amazing functionality and innovative features, smart phones won't be helpful during sustained power outages - unless you take steps to get ready now. 

Hurricane season has arrived, and it's likely that many of us will be inconvenienced by unexpected losses of electric power over the next couple of months. Since we rely heavily on our smart phones and other electronic devices, it makes sense to prepare for the eventuality of energy blackouts.  

All of us in the technology industry are keenly aware of the dangers posed by single points of failure. But we often forget that the biggest single point of failure is the power grid. When the power goes down, the lights go out.

Most of our work sites have back-up power sources. Many of our homes, however, don't have back-up systems. In the event of a massive blackout, many of our personal electronic devices would become useless in a matter of hours. 

For a quick summary of helpful suggestions for dealing with power outages, I highly recommend reading a recent article by Julia Jacobs in The New York Times. In her article, she lists several apps you should download before severe weather events occur, since downloading large apps will drain your phone's battery.

Useful apps mentioned in the article include the Federal Emergency Management Agency app, American Red Cross app and the National Weather Service app. She also recommends checking out Nextdoor, an app that helps you connect with neighbors; Zello, an app that serves as a walkie-talkie; Firechat, an app that sends messages without internet access or wireless connectivity; and the ICE Contact app, which enables emergency responders to access your phone numbers and medical information.

Always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure that everyone in your family and on your team knows how to change the settings on their smart phones to conserve battery power.

"Close any apps you are not actively using, turn your brightness down as low as possible and put your phone in a power-saving mode if that is an option. When you are not using your device, put it in Airplane mode," writes Jacobs. "And although it may be tempting to scroll through social media to kill time, resist the urge if you are not going to have charging capabilities anytime soon." 

Last but not least, remember that hurricanes bring heavy rains and flooding. Nothing will kill an electronic device faster than water, so make sure you've got plenty of plastic bags and water-tight containers for keeping your devices safe and dry during storms.