The first thing that comes to mind when picturing an earthquake is our family.
How will we keep them safe?
Most of us are away from our families during the day. Our children may be at school, our spouses at work, our aging parents alone in their homes.
Without warning, an earthquake can strike. Quakes take out power lines and destroy roads, blocking our access to electricity and our loved ones.
How can we keep those dearest to us safe, without power?
What Are Alternative Power Sources?
One of the most important things you can put in your earthquake bag is an alternative power source. They come in many varieties, but they all have one precious thing in common: power.
Major quakes often come with structural damage like broken power lines.
After major disasters, like earthquakes, it can take weeks for crews to clean up and repair power lines. During that time, families are often without power. Without electricity, even the simplest things become difficult.
Alternative power sources are one way to power your electronics that don’t rely on outlets and power lines.
What Is It Like to Live Without Power?
Living without power can be immensely difficult.
Look around your home. How many things in your home require electricity? How many of them are devices you use on a regular basis?
Without power, we cannot store or cook our perishable foods. Many items inside refrigerators or freezers must either be cooked or thrown away.
You may be forced to use a small camp stove or outdoor barbeque to cook your food, because you won’t have access to an oven or microwave. You can’t use these heat sources indoors, so you also risk exposing yourself to the elements.
Your home will be dark and cold if you use electricity for your water heater, warmth, and light.
Those of us with infants, elderly relatives, or pets at home know that these conditions can be very dangerous.
We also rely on electronics to get valuable details about natural disasters. Our phones receive push notifications for information like emergency alerts and evacuations. You can read more about that, and what to do if you receive an emergency alert, here.
If we’re not with our families when an earthquake strikes, we use our electronics to check on them in the aftermath. Your cell phone may have enough charge to contact your loved ones after the initial quake. But how long will it last without a backup power source to charge it? To stay in touch, you must stay charged.
Picture yourself without heat, light, or a reliable way to contact your family.
Now, picture yourself with a backup power source that allows you to keep your family safe when they need you the most.
Which image do you prefer?
What Alternative Power Source Options Are Available?
There are many alternative power source options! It’s important to consider all the possibilities when shopping for backup power for your earthquake bag. We like a portable option for the car bag, and a larger, more powerful option at home.
We’ve put together a short list of the types of power available, as well as some pros and cons for each type.
- Endlessly rechargeable
- Highly portable
- Limited power supply at a time
- Works best with small electronics
There are many hand crank options. A hand crank radio functions as a power source, flashlight, emergency siren. Most importantly, hand crank radios are capable of tuning into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broadcast. This is the perfect option for an earthquake bag.
- Long-lasting light
- Requires a good deal of sunlight
- Prices vary greatly
Solar power sources are excellent choices, because they charge passively. You can strap one to the top of your earthquake bag to charge in the sunlight while you work. The WakaWaka Power solar light and charger is incredibly efficient. After 8 hours in the sun, it can provide light for 40 hours or fully charge a cell phone in about 2 hours. You can buy one for your earthquake bag here.
- Easily turns on and off
- Limited power supply at a time
- Must have access to more batteries
- Not available for larger items
Battery powered items are easy to find and inexpensive. They are great for keeping handy in case of an emergency, without the fear that they will be lost or stolen.
The major downside is, of course, the requirement for backup batteries. That is an extra barrier between you and an effective charging method.
- Powers large electronics
- Long shelf life
- Some require fuel
- More expensive than other options
Generators are the most powerful recharging option, and there are many types available. If your home is a safe place to stay after an earthquake, but you don’t have power, a generator would be the perfect back up. Some generators are small enough to be portable.
A generator can allow you to power some large electronics, like mini-fridges and microwaves. While the more expensive option, they are incredibly useful to have in your car or home.
You can use them to power your small appliances and electronics, keeping your family safe and connected.
With a generator, you can be a source of power for your community in times of great need.
Stay Powered When You Need it the Most
When we think of an earthquake bag we often think of food, water, and first aid supplies. Those items are necessities, but they will only last us a few days. .
It is important to think past those first few days. What will you do if you are without power for a week or more?
A backup power source is useful for many reasons. It can help us charge our phones to stay connected with our loved ones.
Alternative power sources allow us to store and heat food in our homes.
We can keep our families and our communities warm, dry, and fed in their times of greatest need.
With prices ranging from $9 to $700, there is an effective alternative power source for every budget.
Whatever option you choose, be sure to have a backup power source in your earthquake bag.