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The Tech To Help You Get Through The Storm

The Red Cross FRX3 Eton Emergency Radio contains a solar panel and hand turbine charger, rechargeable battery, AM/FM radio, NOAA weather band radio, LED red flashing beacon and LED flashlight.

As you prepare for hurricane season, don’t forget about your technology. Make sure to download apps now that can make it easier to get through the storm, and make sure to have what you need to keep your devices running during and after the storm.


There are countless weather apps on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.  Yahoo Weather, Accuweather, The Weather Channel, WeatherBug and Weather Underground all do a fine job of providing up-to-date weather alerts and information.

News4Jax’s WJXT: The Weather Authority app provides weather alerts and forecasts specifically for Northeast Florida. The JaxReady app provides evacuation information for Jacksonville residents. The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network's new app, Florida Storms, provides weather and storm tracking and forecasting information, preparedness checklists, evacuation routes and a live audio stream from 89.9 FM or your local Florida public radio station.

The Red Cross Hurricane App helps you plan before the storm, gives updates during the storm and provides information on how to recover after the storm has passed. The Red Cross First Aid App has information and videos to help you handle common first aid emergencies that might arise during a disaster.

If you’re stuck in a precarious position, you may need to get information out fast to someone who can help. Red Panic Button is an app that can send out an urgent text message, tweet, Facebook message and email with a link to your location on Google Maps.

FEMA’s mobile app can help you find shelters and disaster recovery centers. It also provides tips to survive a disaster and can be used to apply for aid after the storm.

External Batteries

An external battery with a USB port will keep your devices working for a while until the power comes back on.

When shopping for a USB battery backup, look for the mAh, or milliAmpere-hour, rating. The mAh is a measurement of how much energy the battery can store. The more mAh, the better. Choose a battery backup that has more mAh than the device that needs to be charged.

The iPhone 6 has a 1,810 mAh battery and the iPad’s battery has 8,827 mAh. A quick search on the web will usually tell you how much mAh your device's battery has in it. For a list of recommendations, Lifehacker has put together a list of five of the best battery packs.

Battery Chargers

There are a few options that can keep those external batteries and devices charged if the power is out for more than a few hours. Hand crank chargers are devices that turn your arm energy into battery power. There are also pedal-powered generators that use your feet to make energy, solar chargers that use energy from the sun to charge your phone, fuel cells that turn water into electricity and heat-powered generators that use the thermal energy from cooking to charge a battery.

Radios, Flashlights

Of course, if the Internet and cell phone service goes out your apps won’t much provide information. In case that happens, make sure you have a working, battery-powered radio. Tune your radio to WJCT 89.9 FM, the official emergency weather station for Northeast Florida and extreme Southeast Georgia.

Also, make sure to have battery-powered flashlights. Newer LED flashlights provide more light and last much longer than the older incandescent flashlights.


The ideal solution would be one device that had it all: a flashlight, radio, external battery and a way to charge the battery or an electronic device if the power goes out. Fortunately, Eton and the Red Cross have made that device. The Red Cross FRX3 Eton Emergency Radio contains a solar panel and hand turbine charger, rechargeable battery, AM/FM radio, NOAA weather band radio, LED red flashing beacon and LED flashlight. Eton has other survival devices of greater and lesser complexity as well.

Ray Hollister is the one of the hosts of WJCT's tech news podcast, "Deemable Tech," and the call-in tech help show, "Ask Deemable Tech".

UPDATED: Aug. 28, 2015 3:33 p.m. — Added information about the FPREN Florida Storms app.

Ray Hollister can be reached at, 904-358-6341 or on Twitter at @rayhollister.