TORONTO – Hundreds of thousands of Toronto area residents remain without power after a major ice storm crippled the region over the weekend, leaving many without heat and limited possibilities to charge their mobile devices.
Some residents have been warned they may be without power on Christmas day, as outages are expected to last until the end of the week.
Smartphones and 3G-enabled tablets and other devices are critical for those without power – not just in case of emergencies or to get up-to-date information about the storm, but to stay in touch with family and friends during the holiday season.
Here are some tips to keep your devices running longer during a power outage.
Cut down on app usage and turn off useless features
While the ice storm may be an Instagrammer’s dream, cutting down on unnecessary app usage is key in conserving battery power on your smartphone or tablet.
Make sure that any open apps that may continue running in the background of your phone are turned off – iOS users can do this by double tapping the home button on their device and swiping up to turn off any running apps.
Another way to conserve battery power is to turn off any useless or extra features that you won’t be using. This includes turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, turning off apps that sync constantly (such as email “push” notifications that leave your device constantly checking for new data) and dimming your screen brightness.
Android users can check the built-in battery usage screen in the settings menu to see what apps are using the most battery power.
Tip: Texting uses less battery power than making a phone call.
Use a laptop with battery power as a back-up charger
It may seem like common sense, but if you have a laptop at home with some battery charge left it can be used as a back-up charger for your device – so long as you have the proper USB cable.
Head to a shopping centre that has power
If you are able to safely get to a shopping centre or mall that has power make sure you bring your charger along with you. Many centres will have outlets that you can use to give your device’s battery a boost – some even have charging centres designed for this.
While you are there, check to see if there is an electronics retailer that sells extra battery packs for smartphones. Phone case maker Mophie makes many “Juice Packs” for both Android and Apple devices, some of which can provide up to 80 per cent extra battery life.
Toronto residents can also visit any of the warming centres to see if they can use an outlet to charge their device.
MAP: Find the nearest warming centre in your neighbourhood
Those without power should also take precautions to protect other electronic devices in their homes for when the lights come back on.
When power is restored it may result in power surges which cause an increase in the current flowing to your wall outlets and could fry electronics.
Devices like computers, televisions, and stereo systems should be unplugged from outlets just in case. If you have electronics plugged into a surge protector, your best bet is to still unplug the device, just in case the power surge is big enough to overpower the protector.
© Shaw Media, 2013