Here are some of the latest gadgets to help you through hurricane season.
Life+Gear's Quad-Power, $40
Talk about your all-in-one hurricane gadget. Quad-Power is an LED Flashlight, AM-FM Radio, NOAA Alert, weatherband, cellphone charger, emergency flasher and even a 130-decibel siren. It's called Quad-Power because it can get its power from four sources: crank power, battery power (3 AAA batteries not included), car's cigarette lighter adapter or wall outlet. It might be a good idea to have two, one with your hurricane supplies and another in your glove compartment.
Quad Power can be purchased online at lifegearcompany.com/q_6n1wx.html
FDOT's 511 Travel Info
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is offering a freebie: FDOT's 511 Travel Information System. The 511 system gives up-to-the-minute information on bridge and road closures, toll suspensions and evacuation routes during emergencies. Just call 511 or visit the FL511.com website. You also can learn about road conditions on interstate highways and Florida's Turnpike.
Gives More Than Light:
The K-Light, $50
This is the first solar-powered light of its kind. It's about the size and weight of a soda can and uses a combination of LED lights and solar power to produce an incredibly bright light. But that's not all. The K-Light is water-resistant and nearly indestructible. It is designed to last 3,000 charges or about 100,000 hours. A portion of each lantern sale goes to support the company's Light for Africa program, a partnership with the Koinonia Foundation (www.kfaid.com) and the government of Rwanda to provide ''micro grants'' to African women to manufacture and sell K-Lights. It's available at www.pisatsolar.com
Now You're Cooking:
If we lose power after a storm, cooking becomes a challenge. As those burgers in your freezer thaw, you'll need to think barbecue. FlameDisk is an easy-to-use alternative to charcoal. It is a solid block of ethanol that works with any grill. Just light it and you're ready to cook in minutes. It cooks meat at the same rate as charcoal and stays hot for 40 minutes. When you're done, toss the FlameDisk in a recycle bin. It's available at Ace and True Value Hardware Stores and in some Publix and Winn-Dixie stores.
Sun Power: Solo Batt
Pack, $70, and Solaris 6
Sun Collector, $200
If cellphone towers are operational after the storm, you're going to want to use your phone. But at some point, it's going to need a charge. If your home is powerless, look up to a higher power: the sun. Solo BattPack with a Brunton solar panel, such as the Solaris 6, can charge up to four AA or AAA batteries. With the included USB output port you can charge small electronics from the charged batteries. Charge time for the AA/ AAA batteries depends on the size of the solar panel used and the intensity of the sunlight. The Solo BattPack also has a flip-down AC plug to charge batteries using an AC outlet before the storm. It's available at brunton.com or at REI.com.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Motorola 9500XLR 2-way
Radio 2-pack, $80
Once the storm passes, we could be looking at a few days or weeks without cell or land-line phones. These two-way radios could save the day. With a 25-mile talk range and 22 channels, you'll be able to keep the conversation going. The radios also carry 11 NOAA weather channels with alert features. Digital processing gives these radios a clear signal. Available at Radio Shack.
Breeze Power: K3
compact generator, $100
When it comes to hurricane season, there is no shortage of hot air. We can harness that moving air and generate power. The K3 is a compact wind-and-solar-powered generator. It's about the size of a flashlight and it can recharge your cellphone, iPod, MP3 player, PDA or other electronic device. A little bit of wind, or a few rays of sunshine and you are charged and ready to go. It's available at kinesisindustries.com.
LCD Digital TV, $250-350
If you are like me, you have a portable battery-powered TV among your hurricane supplies. If you purchased it more than a year ago, it is probably garbage. Most of those old TVs picked up only analog broadcast signals. In June all stations must switch to a digital signal, making your old battery-powered TV useless. I had to search for a digital battery-powered TV and I found only two, both from LCDDigital.tv. There is a seven-inch and an 8.4-inch model. Both can be powered with a wall adapter, car cigarette lighter adapter and AA batteries (disposable and rechargable). The company says its 8.4-inch model has a better turner and better reception. Both models come with an auxiliary antenna. The 7-inch unit costs about $250 and the 8.4-inch unit costs about $350. Available online only at lcddigital.tv
Stay Safe: SentrySafe
These days valuables aren't just possessions, they can be information as well. This safe is designed to store both. It's the world's first and only fire- and water-resistant safe with USB-powered connectivity. The safe lets you back up data into its built-in hard drive, which is stored in the interior door. You can connect to the hard drive by plugging your laptop or desktop computer into the safe's USB port. The safe is water-resistance in up to eight inches of water for up to 24 hours and is verified for two-hour fire protection of CDs, DVDs, USB drives and memory sticks up to 1,850 degrees. Available at walmart.com, amazon.com, sentrysafe.com, samsclub.com and homedepot.com.
I Need A Drink: SteriPen
Journey LCD, $100
All of us here in South Florida know about ''boil water advisories.'' When you can't boil the water, we're told to put a few drops of bleach in a gallon of water and wait 45-plus minutes. I've gone the bleach route and then tasted the water. Yuck. I found a safe solution in the SteriPen Journey LCD. This handheld device turns questionable water into safe drinking water. Designed for campers, the SteriPen uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy microbes in water and its tapered end fits into most commercial water bottles. It can purify 16 ounces of water in 48 seconds or 32 ounces in 90 seconds. No chemicals, no pumping, no waiting. You just push a button. The LCD screen does the counting for you. The end product tastes a whole lot better than water mixed with bleach. Available at Peter Glenn Ski & Sport stores and at REI.com and Nitro-PAK.com.
Steve Greenberg appears on television around the country demonstrating innovative new products. His book, Gadget Nation: A Journey Through The Eccentric World of Invention (www.gadgetnation.net), tells the stories behind some off-beat inventions.