How to keep your phone charged during disasters

HOUSTON – While smart phones, tablets and computers give us quick ways to communicate and access information, staying connected during a disaster can be tricky.

Digital devices are great as long as they're charged, but that battery doesn’t last forever. Here are some tips to help keep your gadgets humming during an emergency.


First things first, conserve the battery life that you have. The American Red Cross recommends:

  • Leave an outgoing message on your voicemail that includes your status and location, and then turn off your phone.
  • Use SMS text messaging, which will go through cellular networks easier than a voice call.
  • Turn on “airplane mode,” which keeps your phone from transmitting or receiving and greatly extends battery life.
  • Turn off apps that you’re not actively using, which frequently drain your battery by checking your GPS location.
  • Use apps designed to identify power-sucking features that you can disable.


No matter how much conservation you do, your device will eventually die if it’s not recharged. The American Red Cross recommends the following options:

  • A desktop or laptop computer can recharge your device by plugging your device into the computer’s USB port.
  • Portable batteries, also called “juice packs,” are great for short-term recharging of your device; however, these batteries will also need to be recharged once they’re depleted.
  • A charger that requires AA batteries can be used as long as you have new batteries to replace the drained ones.
  • A solar-powered charger is a good option if the skies are sunny, but it can take up to three hours to recharge a device.
  • Plug your device into your car’s charging port and your device will recharge using your car’s battery.
  • Hand-crank charges are reliable and effective during power outages, but will require some elbow grease.

Most of the charging devices listed above can be found at electronics and camping supply stores.