Monday, June 1, 2009

Today's Kool Idea: American Red Cross Eton Microlink for Hurricane Preparedness

Today (June 1st) marks the beginning of hurricane season, which typically lasts through November 30th. Having lived in Florida for three decades, particularly through the record-breaking 2005 season, The Daily Kool family recognizes how nerve-racking this time of year can be. Anyone who has experienced the devastation from category 5 hurricanes like Andrew (1992), Katrina (2005) and Ike (2008) can attest to the importance of preparation this time of year.

Hurricane Wilma (2005) left our home without power for two full weeks...we really could have used a product like the American Red Cross Eton Microlink. This solar-powered, self-powered AM/FM/Weatherband portable radio with flashlight and cell phone charger is an incredibly versatile little device, especially considering its low cost (around $30). Plugs and wires aren't required, making the American Red Cross Eton Microlink a welcome addition to any emergency preparedness kit. This little guy can charge in about two minutes with the hand crank, or place it outside for a solar charge. There is also a USB port...the cord is not included, but it is available almost anywhere...of course, this is useless if you're stuck without power. The illumination from the LED flashlight is better than we expected for such a small product, and though it is certainly not Bose quality, the AM/FM radio provided more than adequate reception for us. Keep in mind, though, that you may have to fiddle a bit to tune in properly to the NOAA weatherband stations on the American Red Cross Eton Microlink...could be frustrating, but merely requires practice and patience to get it right. Keep in mind that the cell phone charger may not accommodate some of the more current models...we actually charge our cell phone up in the car, so it isn't really an issue for us.

Although it's quite the value, the American Red Cross Eton Microlink might be a little too basic for some of us. If you're looking for a more souped-up model, you might want to check out the more modern Eton Solarlink model. The Eton Solarlink offers a digital radio for the analog-phobics among us, but also includes S.A.M.E. (specific area message encoding) for location-based weather alerts. Other added features include a flashing beacon, emergency siren and an alarm clock. Plus, the Eton Solarlink has a full sized USB port, designed to accommodate an MP3 player for convenient charging. As "kool" as these upgrades are, the Eton Solarlink does have a much heftier price tag (around $80)...but, you are definitely getting a lot for the investment.

Regardless of whether you choose the American Red Cross Eton Microlink or the Eton Solarlink, either model will help keep you informed in the event of an emergency. Please take the time to adequately prepare a family disaster can save the lives of you and your children. Check out the NOAA website for more specific guidelines on hurricane preparation. Nothing is "kooler" than ensuring the protection of your family whenever possible.

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