HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hurricane season is here but you don't want to wait until there's a storm to get ready.
So, we reached out to the "High-Tech Texan" Michael Garfield for tips on some easy-to-find gadgets to help you and your family stay prepared.
Garfield recommends you start by having a "go bag" that you can use for really any emergency. Just keep it in your kitchen, the garage, or your car.
To build your bag - start with the basics:
- First-aid kit - you can buy it or make your own and include items like band-aids, antiseptic and gauze pads.
- Manual can opener
- Bug spray
- One-pound propane tank
- Hand crank radio
But that's not all. Don't forget flashlights. It's even better if they're waterproof.
"So many things run on USB, and we can charge these things in our car, too. So, you can plug this on a USB, this actually can hang... from your belt, this can hang from a ceiling. These things are just a few dollars each. They're plastic, they don't hurt, and also they can change colors," said Garfield.
Portable battery chargers for your cell phones and other devices are also items to keep on hand.
We found USB chargers for $5 or less, but candidly, keep in mind that they won't give you the long lasting charge that bigger batteries will, so you might go up to a mid-range battery the size of a cell phone between $30 to $50. Larger batteries can go up to $100 or more, but for the power, it may be worth it.
"This has a lot of amps in here. And not only does it charge via USB, you can also plug in a regular AC volt over here. And so right now you can charge your blender if you needed to, to make some margaritas to keep you sane, but something to always have in your home or in your trunk," said Garfield.
For the record, you can also plug in a fan to keep you cool, though if margaritas are top of mind for you in a stressful situation, we understand.
Next up -- if you have to evacuate or leave your home for any other reason, and water getting inside is a concern, try sensors.
"What they do is they sit on the ground, and they can sense any moisture that comes in, and when they sense moisture, a few things happen. Number one, it lets out an audible alert. And so if you're in the house, you know there is water somewhere affecting this. But at the same time, these also can be connected to your Wi-Fi system and send you an alert to your phone. So if you're not home, now you know something's going on," Garfield explained.
Place the sensors anywhere there's a water source. In the winter months, you can also keep them around in case of any burst pipes due to freezing, though we always hope that won't be the case.
Some insurance companies may offer discounts on your home insurance premium for having some type of early detection system. If you want to know if yours qualifies, you can always ask your insurance company before buying any sensors. Don't expect for your homeowners' insurance to be slashed in half, but it may be worth asking if at least some discount is available, especially if you have other monitoring devices for security or fire.
Finally, if you have solar lights in your yard or garden, you can use those as a light source if the power goes out.
We're not talking about the large panels, but literally lights like these.
Like anything else, the variety of lights range. Some are available at stores like Dollar Tree for $1.25, but you can find them at other stores. We get a lot of sun here in southeast Texas and that direct sunlight charges them all day.
"At night, instead of leaving them in your garden, pick them up and bring them inside. Now, you can line your walkways, your stairs, your kitchen, and you can have light. In most cases, it doesn't last all night, but it's going to give you a good six, seven, eight, nine hours of light before you go to bed," Garfield said.
What about when it's overcast? Garfield says the lights will still charge, but having direct light is best so keep them outside as long as you can.