With Hurricane Irene barreling up the East Coast, millions of people in New York and Boston are about to experience the biggest storm of their lives. Staying in communication with family and friends during a natural disaster is important, so people should be sure their phones are ready.
High winds are going to cause wide-spread power outages, so be sure your phone is fully charged when the storm starts.
Power outages could last for days, as crews will be overwhelmed with work, so having an alternate way to recharge your handset could be necessary. One of the easiest of these is a car charger. In many cases, the car doesn't have to be running to charge a device through the cigarette lighter.
A laptop battery can also be used to recharge many phones -- naturally, this will drain the laptop, so decide which device is more important to you. Although the notebook needs to be on to start charging, many models can be put in sleep mode and they'll continue to provide power to their USB ports.
With millions of people in the path of this hurricane, the cellular phone networks are likely to be overwhelmed with people calling friends and relatives. If this happens in your area, consider sending text messages instead. These are more likely to get through than phone calls during times of peak network use.
If your phone service is interrupted but you still have access to Wi-Fi, consider using Skype or a similar VoIP app. This lets users make free voice calls over the Internet, and even call landlines, though this costs extra.
Residents of Manhattan should be aware that Towerstream has made its Wi-Fi hotspots available for free during this crisis.
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