9 Tips to Extend Phone Battery Life During a Storm

When storms are approaching, it’s important to stay connected for important news and updates by extending your phone battery life. As a coastal resident, being significantly impacted by a hurricane or tropical storm is more a matter of “when” than “if.” It’s only a matter of time until a major storm lands in your part of the country, and it’s essential to take the necessary steps to prepare yourself ahead of time.

Over the past few years, Florida has experienced a number of major hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Irma broke records and caused massive amounts of damage. In addition to damaging the roofs and siding of homes and flooding vehicles in the area, one of the most common things that hurricane survivors experience is the loss of electricity. When a particularly powerful hurricane hits land, it’s virtually guaranteed that people in its immediate vicinity will lose power. And sometimes, electricity is unavailable for days — or even weeks.

While it’s common practice to keep extra batteries around as part of your home hurricane preparedness kit, those batteries are only good for certain devices. They can power your radio, flashlight, and other items around your home. But when it comes to your cell phone, AA or 9V batteries won’t do you much good.

We often take the ability to charge our phones for granted. We plug them in each night before we go to bed, and expect them to last throughout the day. But what happens during a storm when electricity is lost and you’re unable to charge your phone?

Having a cell phone available is important for communicating with friends and family, not to mention making emergency calls when necessary. With this in mind, it’s important to conserve your cell phone battery and extend your battery life for as long as possible in the event of a power outage. But how do you make that happen? We’ve put together this list of our top 9 tips for extending the battery life of your iPhone or Android during a major storm or hurricane. Read on to learn more.

  1. Use your laptop’s battery for your phone

 Before the storm hits, you’ll want to charge all of the devices in your home. This isn’t limited to you and your family members’ cell phones, either: your laptops should be fully charged, too. When your laptop has a full battery, you can essentially think of it as a power source for your cell phone. Keep your laptop turned off leading up to the storm, and ensure that it’s completely charged. Once the power is out, your phone can be recharged by powering up your laptop and plugging it into one of your computer’s USB connections. Just make sure that your laptop isn’t running any applications, is disconnected from the internet, and has its screen completely dimmed in order to conserve power. 

  1. Dim your phone’s screen

 One of the biggest drains on your phone battery life is the screen. If you ever go into your phone’s settings and take a look at its battery life, you can find a breakdown of the different sources of battery drain on your phone. More often than not, your phone’s screen is using a larger proportion of your battery than any other aspect of your phone. For this reason, it’s important to dim your screen when you’re using it during a hurricane. The dimmer your screen is, the less battery you’ll use while your phone is turned on. 

  1. Turn off all unused frequencies on your cell phone

 Your phone uses a number of frequencies to communicate with other devices. When looking at the main menu on your phone, you’ll see the option to turn your WiFi reception, Bluetooth connection, and cellular connection on or off. If you want to increase your iPhone or Android battery life, turning off all three of these frequencies is a great way to do it.  Connections to your smartwatch and Bluetooth headphones are an unnecessary drain on your phone battery life. If you’re using an iPhone, just swipe up from the bottom of your screen to turn off Wifi, Bluetooth, and cellular data. For an Android, swipe down from the top to do the same.  

Cell phone notifications drain phone battery life

  1. Turn off notifications on your phone

 Although your phone is in your pocket and the screen is locked, you’re constantly receiving notifications from a variety of apps. These notifications use up valuable battery power, as they’re constantly updating themselves in real-time to alert you to new information as it occurs. All of this constant updating uses a lot of precious phone battery life, and it’s therefore a good idea to turn your notifications off. You can turn off notifications for apps in the settings section of your iPhone or Android device. 

  1. Ensure that your phone is plugged into an outlet until power is lost

 If your phone is fully charged, you might be tempted to unplug it from the wall and place it in your pocket — even before power is lost. However, this is a mistake. While your phone may not use much power from moment to moment, the battery will gradually drain anytime it’s not plugged into an electrical outlet. If there’s still power available, keep your phone plugged into an outlet at all times to ensure that it’s still fully charged when the power eventually goes out. Of course, it’s important to unplug your phone if there’s heavy lightning nearby: you don’t want your phone’s electronics ruined if lightning strikes near your home while it’s connected to an outlet. 

  1. Switch off all apps on your phone 

Whether you realize it or not, there are all sorts of apps running in the background on your phone at any given time. When we open an app and use it on our phone, the most common thing to do afterwards is simply press the back button a couple of times to return to our phone’s home screen. Unfortunately, this can make it hard to extend the battery life for your phone, as that application is still open and running (even though it’s not visible). The easiest way to turn off all of the apps on your phone is by simply turning your phone off and back on. This ensures that all apps are turned off, and nothing is running in the background unbeknownst to you.  Launching those apps again will drain even more battery life so if you don’t absolutely need it, don’t launch it.

  1. Minimize phone use 

It may seem obvious to point out that minimizing use will help to extend your phone battery life, but it does indeed deserve mentioning. Most of us are accustomed to using our phones on a near constant basis. We pull them out of our pockets dozens of times per day: in fact, Americans aged 18-24 statistically check their phones 74 times per day on average. If your phone is in your pocket and you’re not conscious of minimizing use, it’s easy to pull it out regularly and check it out of pure habit. Be conscious of this, and do your best to minimize your use of your phone. 

  1. Don’t call, text 

Sending a text message uses a very small amount of battery power. While a call could turn into a long ordeal that consumes a significant portion of your battery, sending a single text will only require an incrementally tiny portion of your phone’s charge. For this reason, sending texts is preferable to making calls in the event of a power outage. As an added bonus, your text will often go through when a call can’t — particularly if reception is low, or the network is currently overrun with users. 

Battery Packs to Extend Phone Battery Life

  1. Consider buying a power pack 

Plugging your phone into a wall outlet isn’t the only way to charge it. In addition, there are all sorts of portable “power pack” chargers available for charging a cell phone. You can think of these power pack chargers as a kind of additional, external battery for your phone: you plug them in ahead of time, charge them up, and then use them on the fly to recharge your phone’s battery as needed. Consider investing in one of these ahead of time to maximize your phone’s overall battery capacity during a hurricane or other major storm event. 

Remember, preparing for a hurricane or tropical storm takes time and advance planning: don’t put things off until the last minute. With these tips for extending your phone’s battery life in combination with a comprehensive hurricane preparedness plan, you can maximize your chances of riding out the storm in safety.  

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