Consumer Report: Cell Phones in an Emergency

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

When a bad storm is bearing down on you, there’s a long list of things you need to do. Some you know inside and out, such as get plenty of water, canned food, and batteries. But you probably don’t give much thought to your cell phone.

Consumer Reports has important advice to keep you connected.

Consider getting a prepaid phone on a network that’s different from your main phone.

Having access to two networks increases your chances of getting a signal. If calls aren’t getting through, try texting. Texts can often get through when calls can’t because the data demands are smaller. And for those who don’t yet text, it’s time to learn. If you have older family members, get them started! It’s really important.

You also don’t want your phone to go dead. So consider getting an extra battery that you can switch out when one dies. With phones that you can’t swap out the battery, including the iPhone, consider getting a charging case, or “juice pack,” that extends the life of the battery.

It’s also important to conserve your phone’s power. People don’t realize that running apps can really drain a phone. On an iPhone, double press the home button and you’ll see the running apps. Leave your finger on one of them until you see them quiver, then delete them by hitting the minus sign in the upper left-hand corner of the app. On most Android phones, hit the recent apps button to see the apps that are running. Then swipe them to the left to shut them down. Also lower the brightness of the screen and turn off Wi-Fi connections until you need them.

Those key moves before and during a storm can go a long way to keeping you connected. Consumer Reports says you might want to consider getting a battery-operated charger for your phone—just make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand.

There are also hand-cranked chargers that take some effort but will help keep you powered up. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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