Lessons from Superstorm Sandy

It was about a year ago that Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast. The super storm reminded us about how to be prepared for nature's fury.

When a bad storm or natural disaster hits your cell phone may become a critical mode of communication.

If the lines are jammed and you can't make a call, try texting.

"For those who don't use yet text, it's time to learn," said Mike Gikas with Consumer Reports. "If you have older family members, get them started. It's really important."

Here's another trick: Sometimes you can make a long-distance call when all the local lines are tied up.Try an emergency contact in another part of the country.

If the power's out, it may not be easy to charge the phone. A car charger comes in handy. You might want to have an extra battery that you can switch out when the first one dies.

For an iPhone, you can get a charging case or "juice pack" that extends the life of the battery.

"And it's really important to conserve your phone's power," Gikas said. "People don't realize that running apps can really drain a phone."

Turn off unneeded apps during power outage, stop the automatic syncing and reduce the
screen brightness. All of these moves will extend battery life.
On an iPhone, double press the home button and you'll see the running apps. Leave your finger on one of them until you see them quiver, then delete them by hitting the minus sign in the upper left-hand corner of the app.

On most Android phones, hit the recent apps button to see the apps that are running. Then swipe them to the left to shut them down. Also lower the brightness of the screen and turn off Wi-Fi connections until you need them