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Travel: Emergency Smartphone Power

A decade ago, when I started freelancing after a long hiatus at home with my children, I realized that in order to be competitive and to produce work professionally and independently, it would be important to be as mobile as possible. So—before I’d even heard the term “backpack journalist”— I carried in my work backpack a good digital camera, a digital audio recorder, a cell phone and, because I needed it for a regular newspaper assignment that made it necessary to duplicate readers’ family photos, a small scanner. And a reporter’s notebook, of course.

Now, most of those and the other regular tasks are done with one small tool. My iPhone. 
I can take notes, photos, audio and even scan with it. I use it for research, editing, texting and other forms of communication and, once in a while, to make a phone call. The downside is all that use requires a lot of battery power. I’ve learned a few hard lessons along the way, when the phone died just as I needed it, and I'm not alone. (The traveler's joke is you can spot the iPhone users because they're always clustered around the nearest outlet at any airport.)

But smart phones are more than work tools and entertainment hubs. With more and more people dropping traditional land lines, the cellphone is a lifeline. Recent events have made that obvious.
After Super Storm Sandy hit the Northeast, in addition to the other aspects of the natural disaster, people were left without any way to charge phones, laptops and tablets. That meant they weren’t able to reach family, friends and coworkers. Communication was lost just as it was most needed.

Red Cross officials and other emergency preparedness officials urge us all to keep emergency supplies, including food and water, batteries, copies of important documents, medical records and other necessary and difficult to replace items at home. We’re also encouraged to keep a similar kit in our cars for weather and other travel emergencies. It’s a good idea to add an instant cellphone power source to that list.

I use a Mophie battery case for my phone every day which gives me a complete battery charge when necessary. I bought it at an airport kiosk and it has saved me more than once. My FatCat PowerBar holds a charge for as long as one year and can provide necessary power for a phone or camera in case of emergency. I keep it on hand to make sure I don’t run out of juice exactly when I need it most and I’m going to add one to our home emergency kit. I just gave one to my son to keep in his mountain cabin so he’ll have power in case of emergency.

I’m not just dependent on my phone to meet deadlines, post photos, keep in touch with my children and play Words with Friends. Like many people, it’s my link to the rest of the world.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country.

  

High Noon: Red Cross Honors Heroes

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. On Wednesday, the Inland Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross will host the annual Hometown Heroes Luncheon at Northern Quest Resort and Casino to honor a few of them. Each year the organization recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a positive impact in the community. Among this year’s list of 21 honorees: a fifth-grader who raised more than $5,000 for Inland Northwest Honor Flight, a military dog who has survived four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Spokane Valley 5-year-old Braxton Ruetsch (pictured with father, Phil Ruetsch and sister, Caitlynn, 3). “You guys can just call me superhero,” Braxton said, when he was told of the pending award/Cindy Hval, Washington Voices. More here.

Question: Who is your hero?

Deputy nominated for life-saving award

 A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy has been nominated for a Red Cross award for saving a man who drove into a South Hill swimming pool last winter.

Deputy Brandon Armstrong rescued a 76-year-old man from a sinking car after the motorist drove off Glenrose Road and into a swimming pool in February.

Armstrong dove in the pool, and firefighters helped pull the man to safety. He had suffered a medical emergency but survived, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Armstrong and the firefighters, who were not identified in a Sheriff’s Office news release, are candidates for the American Red Cross Water Safety Hero Award.

Winners will be recognized at the annual Honoring Hometown Heroes luncheon, Nov. 10 at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Local Team Has Extra Incentive To Win “Dash 4 Cash”

One NASCAR Nationwide Series team will be running Saturday’s race with a little extra incentive. Should Jason Keller find victory lane the local area stands to be the biggest winners.