Traditional emergency power sources like gas-powered generators supply power to appliances, but could damage laptops and cell phones. Local governments may set up charging stations for the public, but they are not guaranteed and could get crowded.

Useful options to charge your laptop, tablet and cell phone

  • Solar chargers can be plugged into your car dashboard or outlet to recharge a cell phone.
  • Power Inverters use your car battery to charge cell phones, tablets, laptops and PCs.
  • Keep your laptop fully charged. You can plug your cell phone or tablet into the USB port using USB cables.
  • A hand-cranked radio with a USB port can recharge a cell phone in a few hours.
  • Battery powered backup chargers. You will have to keep extra batteries on hand or use one with an internal re-chargeable battery.

Update contact information

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages people to update contacts on phone, email and social media often, so it’s easier to reach out to people during an emergency.

Program “In Case of Emergency” contacts in your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact someone, who knows your medical or special needs, if you can’t use your phone. And keep a copy of emergency contacts in your emergency kit.

Other FEMA tips for preparing for outages/disasters

  • Learn how to send text messages with your cell phone. Text messages often continue to go through, even when phone service is disrupted.
  • Keep one non-cordless receiver in your home if you have a land line. It will work during an outage if you have phone service.
  • Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing brightness, putting phone in airplane mode (so it isn’t searching for networks) or closing apps you don’t need (they may be running in the background, draining your battery).
  • Keep a prepaid phone card for use during an emergency, if you do not have a cell phone.
  • Use text, email or social media for non-emergency calls, instead of tying up voice networks, to inform family and friends that you are safe.
  • Use a battery powered radio with extra batteries (or a hand-crank radio) to get news instead of wasting your cell phone’s charge.
  • Check regularly for other tips to prepare for disasters and emergencies.