A June 10, 2020 article appearing in the Detroit Free Press warned local residents of impending severe weather throughout the afternoon and evening. The article included a list of emergency preparedness suggestions intended to keep people safe should the storm knock out power. If the same article had been written back in the 1970s, it would have looked a bit different.
At the top of the list of suggestions was one to charge mobile devices and battery packs. Imagine that. Of all the things local residents could be doing in advance of severe storms, it was recommended that they charge their devices. It just goes to show how dependent we have become on our smartphones and tablets.
Preparing for a Blizzard
It was late January 1977 when Western New York and southern Ontario (Canada) were hit with one of the worst blizzards on record. Plenty of snow combined with hurricane force winds knocked out the power for millions. Some communities were so hard-hit that it took weeks to dig out.
Storm preparations back then were all about making sure there was enough food and water to get by for an extended amount of time. Residents were also encouraged to buy batteries to power their portable radios and flashlights. Those who had gas cans stocked up on fuel for their cars, snowmobiles, and snowblowers.
There was no encouragement to charge mobile devices and battery packs because these did not exist. But more importantly, mobility wasn’t even a thing – at least in the same sense we know it today. People in the storm’s path planned to be hunkered down for weeks. It was normal, and it was no big deal.
Preparing in 2020
The threat of severe weather in 2020 still causes us to think about things like stocking up on food and water. That much will never change. But the idea of running to the store to buy an ample supply of alkaline batteries is not necessarily normal anymore. Rechargeable batteries and battery packs are increasingly likely to be a consumer’s first choice.
We do not have much choice with our cell phones and tablets these days. Most come with hardwired batteries that cannot be removed anyway. But we do have choices when it comes to flashlights, radios, portable music players, etc. And for those devices, rechargeable lithium ion batteries are gradually becoming the preferred choice among consumers.
Utah-based Pale Blue Earth says there are good reasons for this. First, a single rechargeable lithium-ion battery can last as long as thousands of disposable alkaline batteries. Consumers are figuring out how much they can save by making the switch.
Consumers are also figuring out just how convenient rechargeable batteries are. In the old days, you needed a special charger to handle NiCad batteries. Not so today. Pale Blue Earth’s Li-Ion batteries are USB rechargeable. They can be plugged into any device with a USB port.
Don’t Be Caught Without Power
Our obsession with mobility is such that a progressively growing list of consumer products no longer require outlet power. In other words, it is not just our cell phones and tablets that are mobile. So are things like electric shavers, electric toothbrushes, and battery-powered hair dryers and curlers. Even our hand tools are more likely to be powered by rechargeable batteries.
All of this points to the reason consumers are encouraged to charge their portable devices prior to inclement weather. You do not want to be stuck without power. That is the long and short of it. We have become so used to battery power that living without it would be a chore.