Cyclone Debbie: How to keep your phone charged in a weather event.

Keeping your phone charged can be a challenge at the best of times — let alone when you have a destructive cyclone at your door.

South Australian-based technology consultant Richard Pascoe went five days without power during the state’s widespread blackout, albeit with irregular access to an energy source.

Here are some of his tips for people trying to keep things powered through Cyclone Debbie.

Choose one device to keep charged

At times of limited access to a power source, pick one device to keep charged for as long as possible.

This is important in a weather event because it not only can be used in an emergency but also for weather updates and keeping in contact with family and friends.

Most of the time laptops will be of limited use — choose a tablet or smartphone, which will be more useful as long as the 4G network holds up in the strong wind gusts and torrential rain.

Obviously the old-fashioned battery-powered radio is also good for regular updates from the BOM.

Turn down the brightness

A major drainer of energy on mobile devices is the screen brightness — so if the aim is to stay juiced as long as possible, dull things down.

Screen brightness drains more power than anything and people often forget that, that should be the first thing you do,” Mr Pascoe says.

Not all apps are equal…

Some phone apps need more power to fire up than others.

Facebook, Twitter and the BOM can be vital sources of information in a weather event.

Big energy consumers like Snapchat and games are not, so avoid using them altogether.

If you get bored or need a distraction, this might be a good time to find where those board games have been collecting dust.

Turn off your notifications

Loved ones will probably be concerned about you and want to stay in touch but phone alerts can drain your battery.


Manually checking apps — including email — for latest updates is a better use of limited phone power than relying on notifications, so turn those off until the power comes back.

Just don’t check apps too regularly, cyclones can wreak havoc with electricity infrastructure and there’s no telling when power will be reconnected.

If terrestrial telephone lines are down, wi-fi is of no use to you so turn off the wi-fi search application so your phone is not searching in vain.

For the same reason, if you lose network service, it’s best to put your phone in “flight mode” until it returns.

Same goes for bluetooth.

Get creative

If you haven’t already got a power bank … chances are it’s too late to invest in one. But there other options.

If you have a car charger (and your car is in a secure, accessible place like a well-ventilated garage), you may be able to use that to top up your phone.

Also consider using your laptop as a power bank to keep your chosen device juiced.

Focus on safety, not mementos

Going through a massive weather event like a cyclone is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime event.

If you still have an internet connection, it’s not a good idea to live stream it on your favourite social media platform because that will chew through power (not to mention your data).

While taking a few photos of the experience shouldn’t be too draining on your battery, avoid a video at all costs.

Pascoe says even if they are not connected to the internet, video recording on smartphones “can zap power very quickly”.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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