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Quality Power Banks For First Responders: What to Look For

Author: Tom Buske

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2017-10-16
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Incident Dispatchers manage a radio check-out station at a mutual-aid wildland fire exercise in 2006. Providing in-field charging capabilities for radio caches like this - as well as modern devices and equipment is essential to ensuring critical communications in incidents small and large.
Photo: R.D.Larson

You know those days when you end up in the field for longer than you anticipated? Whether it’s for training or just an unusually long day on the job, most in-field command posts have had frustrating power management issues that could have been prevented with the right equipment.

This time of year, first responders are working together around the country to make sure crews are ready to respond to severe weather at a moment’s notice. When that happens, they need to have the most durable products to stay connected, including a quality power bank that will keep those devices charged.

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Not only are power banks helpful for first responders in their everyday job duties, but they can be useful for personal travel, camping trips, long car rides, and more. If this is your first time in the market for a power bank, here are some specifications to look for in order to ensure you’re buying a quality product.

Power

Obviously power is the number one requirement in a power bank, but for the ultimate in on-the-go power, look for a bank with at least 8,000 mAh capacity. Newer, larger smartphones have more battery capacity—up to around 4,000 mAh batteries—to accommodate heavier usage for photos and video, as well as GPS tracking and other utility functions. That means smaller power banks don’t have the juice to power them up as many times as you might need when you’re on the go. If you’re constantly using your phone to keep in contact with others while in the field, battery power can drain pretty quickly and you will likely need multiple charges throughout the day. 8,000 mAh power banks will provide at least a couple full charges for larger phones, and bigger banks are even better if you’re going to be off the grid for longer periods of time.

Multiple USB ports

Since there aren’t many electrical outlets on the side of the road, you’ll want to bring your power with you. If you’re with a team of people, or need more than one electronic device in your daily duties, it can be frustrating to wait on one device to charge before connecting the next one. Multiple USB ports can allow for charging two devices at once, getting the job done faster.

Charge different devices

In addition to radio, power devices can now charge iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablets, BlackBerry smartphones and tablets, Kindle readers and tablets, Nexus tablets, and other communication devices that are often used by first responders. Not only that, but power banks with the latest technology can also charge GPS devices, drones, USB lights, and more - all essential tools for first responders in unfamiliar territory. The innovative technology recognizes the device, reads the amperage requirement and ensures each device gets the power it needs.

Element-proof

Weather can change in an instant and sometimes you don’t know what kind of elements you’ll end up in at the end of the day. Find a power bank that is dustproof, shockproof and waterproof. You work in tough situations and you need gear that’s up to the task, so be sure to check the IP ratings. For example: a power bank rated IPX4 is merely splash-proof, while an IP67-rated device can actually take a plunge underwater and keep going.

Solar power

The efficient solar panel means that you’ll always have access to emergency charging power, even without an electrical outlet handy. With a 280 mAh high efficiency solar panel and a super bright LED flashlight, you’ll bring sunlight with you wherever you go. It’s especially useful during power outages - as long as the solar panel is exposed to sunlight, it’s always charging.

Easy to transport

This is pretty self-explanatory. If it’s not easy to carry around, most people will leave it behind. Find something with a carabiner clip and a lightweight, compact form to make your battery pack easy to fasten to your backpack or belt for easy transport.

Safety

Not all battery cells are created equal. Tough conditions—exposure to dust, water, or extreme heat, or banging around hard surfaces—can cause inexpensive, poorly built cells to become unstable. There is a difference, so look for models that have been independently tested or carry a stamp from a reliable lab like UL.

Bottom line

Wherever you end up, having a quality power bank on your person at all times brings peace of mind to difficult circumstances. Make sure it’s rugged, durable, and built to last—a good power bank will deliver when you need it most.

 

Tom Buske is a leading brand management professional for ToughTested, a subsidiary of Mizco, International. As vice president of sales and brand strategy, Buske leads the marketing and brand development for the rugged brand, assisting with new products, marketing initiatives and competitor research.

 

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