When a hurricane hits, these gadget can help

Don't get caught empty-handed when the taps run dry and the power goes out after a hurricane.

Here are some gadgets to help you be prepared for the storm and its aftermath.

Monitoring the storm

Take to the airwaves to stay updated on the approaching storm and its projected path with Eton American Red Cross FRX3 radio. This radio has AM/FM and NOAA Weather radio bands, and can be powered with a hand crank. It also has a built-in solar panel, an LED flashlight, a cellphone charger, an internal rechargeable battery and a glow-in-the-dark locator. $60. shopetoncorp.com

If you have a smartphone, these apps can help you prepare for and monitor the storm:

• The American Red Cross hurricane app tracks the weather and gets location-based alerts on your iOS or Android device. It also lists where the open Red Cross shelters are, and provides tips on what to do before, during and after the storm. Its one-touch messaging function sends out an "I'm safe" status on social media sites to reassure your friends and family that you're okay. Free on the iTunes or Google Play app stores.

• The iMap Weather Radio app, for iOS and Android devices, alerts you when your area is under severe weather watch or warning. You can also save and track up to five additional locations — maybe where your family lives. A loud beep on your phone or tablet will be followed by the alert. If you're on the road, the Follow Me function monitors weather conditions as you travel. $10 on the iTunes or Google Play app stores.

Weather enthusiasts can find out how strong the wind is blowing with the Handheld Anemometer Wind Speed Device. It shows up to eight maximum average wind speeds, wind chill and temperature. $55 at brookstone.com

Staying hydrated

As part of your preparation, you should store a gallon or more of water per person per day. Potable water is best stored in clean containers. (Used milk jugs can harbor germs and break down over time.)

Dedicated water storage containers might be worth an investment. Reliance 2.5-Gallon Collapsible Fold-a-Carrier is made from high-grade BPA-free polyethylene. It has a spigot for easy dispensing, and a handle for carrying. When the season's over, empty the containers and roll them up for next year's season. $7.95 at beprepared.com.

If you're not sure about the water source, or you just want to be extra cautious, you can sterilize the water before you drink.

• Steripen Ultra Portable UV Water Purifier is a pocket-sized device that kills more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoa using ultraviolet light. Its battery is USB-rechargeable, and one charge can purify about 50 liters. $100 at steripen.com

• CamelBak All Clear is another UV water purifier that neutralizes contaminants in any tap or clear natural water source in 60 seconds. $99 at camelbak.com

Both of these devices are also ideal for traveling or camping.

Let there be light

The Coleman LED Quad Lantern has four removable panels, each with six LED lights, that can work independently for 1.5 hours per charge. The panels recharge when connected to the lantern base, which has a top handle. The bright light — 190 lumens — has a 26-foot light range. The lantern requires eight D-cell batteries and runs for 75 hours. $80 at coleman.com

The Mag-Tac LED flashlight is a pocket-sized flashlight that uses lithium CR123 batteries to put out 310 lumens of light that reaches up to nearly 200 yards. Use it in three modes: full power, power save and momentary mode. $59 at amazon.com

Power sources

Mobile devices are useless when the battery runs down. Here are some options to keep them in working order when the power is out.

ZAGGsparq 6,000 Portable Battery Back Up & Charger can juice your smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, gaming devices and MP3 players up to four charges as a battery pack through a USB connection. $100 at zagg.com.

The sCharger-12 by SunTactics is a water- and weather-resistant 14-watt USB solar charger about the size of a notebook. It charges devices with a USB connection, two at a time if needed. $240 at suntactics.com

If you need power to run other small appliances, a generator is a must. Briggs & Stratton's P2000 PowerSmart inverter generator also has the benefit of being quiet, compact and lightweight. Its computer-controlled inverter technology constantly adjusts the engine speed according to power use. With 1,600 running watts, it's ideal for running televisions, radio, laptop, electric grill and outdoor lights. It holds 1 gallon of gasoline, and runs up to 6.5 hours at 1/4 output load. (Make sure you don't run any generator indoors or in enclosed spaces!) At $700, it's more affordable compared with some other inverter generators. briggsandstratton.com.

Staying comfortable

If it's hot enough for a hurricane, it surely will be hot and muggy enough after a storm, especially without power.

Stay cool with the O2 Cool Deluxe Water Misting Fan. Turn on the fan — with safe flexible fan blades — and pump the trigger for some breezy mist that will reduce the temperature up to 30 degrees (albeit temporarily). It uses two AA batteries. $8.70 at Walmart.

You'll likely have to contend with mosquitoes and other bugs if you have to keep your windows open for air. Create a barrier around your home with ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Lantern or Appliance. It disperses insect repellent — allethrin — into the air using heat generated by a butane cartridge. It repels mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums in a 225-square-foot area. The repellent is not harmful to humans or pets. $23-$32 at thermacell.com.

You can protect yourself from insects just by putting on a shirt. Bugs­Away SecuriTee short-sleeve shirts are treated with permethrin, which repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges. It stays effective for 70 washings. $50 at exofficio.com. Other styles are available.

For your pets

Keep your dogs and cats calmer during the storm with a ThunderShirt. The gentle swaddling pressure of the shirt soothes pets when they're anxious or overexcited. $40. thundershirt.com

But what if your pooch gets spooked and dashes out? Find him or her more easily with a PocketFinder Pet GPS Locator attached to the collar. The waterproof and impact-resistant device keeps track of your pet's location, direction, speed and travel history. You can set up a "geo-fence zone" so you can be alerted — via email or text — if your dog leaves that zone. Monitor activities on the PocketFinder website or by mobile app. $150, with $13 monthly fee (first two months free). crutchfield.com.

When a hurricane hits, these gadget can help 05/17/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 2:14pm]

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