Homeowner's Academy

This is your guide to interesting facts, tips and general homeowner information. We hope you find the information useful - and feel free to share with friends!

Get Hurricane Ready with these Cool Tools

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Jun 02, 2014

We’ve Found Some Great Supplies to Make Your Shelter Safer.

With the tax-free holiday for hurricane preparedness items almost upon us, People’s Trust has put together a list of great emergency and survival gear to keep you safe and inspire you to full up that emergency kit.

In this post, we’d like to show you some hurricane supplies that will be tax-free and make good, common sense to help you be prepared for the inevitable power outage or natural disaster.

Florida’s Department of Revenue confirmed that the following items and many similar items are available for tax-free status. You will want to check our tax-free breakdown and verify with your merchant before you make your purchase. The DOR has provided a fact sheet to help you understand more about these purchases, especially when ordering online.

Here are some of the coolest emergency items we’ve come across to consider as you think about what your emergency preparedness kit may need.

lumiaidLuminAID Inflatable Solar Powered Light

LuminAID makes one of the smartest lights around. It charges in the sun and can provide up to 15 hours of LED light. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that the light is an inflatable, waterproof bag.

Inflating the bag diffuses the light the LED creates to your eyes are protected from glare. Once inflated, the bag will also float to give you adequate light in worsening storms. Being waterproof means you won’t lose a light source if your emergency kit gets wet.

The pack also contains straps to hang it up, so it can charge in the sun. The LuminAID can hold a full charge for over 4 months. Before storing for an extended period of time, it is best to make sure the battery is fully charged.

The LuminAID sells for $19.95, so shipping on a single unit may push it above $20 tax-free limit – some Web stores sell it with free shipping. However, if you use the $27.95 payment option to buy one for yourself and donate one to women in crisis regions, the DOR says this would qualify as the purchase of two lights and would allow the item to be tax-free if shipping costs are under $12.
Streamlight-Nano-LED-Flashlight-300x267

Streamlight Nano LED Flashlight

Another light that made our list is the Streamlight Nano LED Flashlight. These small flashlights from Streamlight cost between $6 and $10 and provide at least 8 hours of intense light.

These simple flashlights make the list because they come with very sturdy clips that can be used as key chains or to hook the flashlight to a purse, bag, or emergency supply kit. Having a light close by when the power goes out is essential to gathering everyone safely.

These flashlights can be found at most hardware stores and also online here.

eton-redcross-radio

American Red Cross FRX Series Weather Alert Radios

Eton makes a series of Red Cross weather radios that give you multiple charging options and connect to AM, FM and NOAA weather alert bands. The most versatile models fall in Eton’s FRX series.

These radios work well in an emergency because they allow you to crank the radio to charge it. This means you’ll never run out of power and can continue to listen to emergency broadcasts without the fear of running out of battery power. Two of the models also feature solar recharging options so you can set it outside during the day and not have to crank for future listening.

We also like these because the models glow in the dark, making it easy to find your radio when the power goes out or night falls. Using these to charge your smartphone via a USB can use up the radio’s power, but cranking it as you charge the phone will keep both running.

Features of the FRX models include:

FRX1

  • Receives AM/FM/Weather band
  • Hand Turbine power
  • LED flashlight
  • Headphone jack
  • Glow in the dark locater
  • Receives AM/FM/Weather band
  • USB smartphone charger
  • Hand turbine and solar powered
  • LED flashlight
  • Glow in the dark locater
  • Receives AM/FM/Weather band
  • USB smartphone charger
  • Hand turbine and solar powered
  • LED flashlight
  • Auxiliary input allows it to play music from a smartphone or iPod

FRX2

  • Receives AM/FM/Weather band
  • USB smartphone charger
  • Hand turbine and solar powered
  • LED flashlight
  • Glow in the dark locater

FRX3

  • Receives AM/FM/Weather band
  • USB smartphone charger
  • Hand turbine and solar powered
  • LED flashlight
  • Auxiliary input allows it to play music from a smartphone or iPod

You can compare all three models through Eton’s Amazon page here.

Special Tip: To charge your phone faster, turn it off while it is plugged into the radio. When you turn your phone back on, make sure features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned off. These extra features drain your battery faster, so turning them off will give you a longer battery life between charges.

Chaney-Instruments-Crank-Radio-and-Flashlight-300x214

Chaney Instruments Crank Radio and Flashlight

Chaney Instruments makes the Emergency Weather Alert NOAA Radio and Flashlight with Hand Crank that is a great dual-purpose item for your safety needs.

This radio and flashlight users rechargeable batteries and has a hand crank so you can charge it without replacing the batteries. It uses an LED light so it’s very bright but has low power consumption.

The radio/flashlight will also hold a charge for days and we recommend you keep it charged. When it is charged, the radio can be set to broadcast the NOAA National Weather Service Alerts based on your location. We like this feature because you’ll get the full alert but it will always be specific to where you are – it uses a broadcast signal to determine, so you don’t need to set your location.

The device will also activate a loud siren in case new emergency warnings are issued. During a hurricane, the types of alerts that will trigger the siren include tornado sightings, flash flooding, and increases in wind strength.

The Florida DOR said that multi-purpose devices such as this can be claimed as whichever item has the higher monetary threshold, meaning the $30 flashlight/radio can use the $50 cap set for emergency radios.

You can learn more about the product here and AcuRite says it will run a sale on the flashlight through the end of June, priced at $20 plus shipping.

champion-inverter-generato-300x230

Champion Power Equipment Inverter Generator

With today’s households relying more and more on small technology such as smartphones and tablets, you may want access to your device even if the power goes out. That means getting the right kind of generator that cans safely power and run electronics: an inverter generator.

One of the more popular is the Champion Power Equipment series of Inverter Generators. They offer a wide range of wattage and most models come well under the $750 cap.

These devices made our list of cool hurricane supplies because the entire series offers good safety features, such as:

  • Electronic-friendly power options.
  • Economy modes that let the engine idle during low usage, saving on fuel and engine wear.
  • Overload protection based on power drain and a backup low oil shutoff.
  • Built-in carrying handles or wheels for easy transportation.

More on these generators can be found here.

Note on Online Shipping

Shipping costs are considered part of the overall cost of an item and will be added to the purchase price to determine tax-free status.

However, services that offer you free shipping in exchange for monthly fees or for assistance, such as filling out surveys, do not add any cost to your item for tax purposes.

For example, if you pay $99 for one year of Amazon Prime, the service will give you free shipping on items sold directly by Amazon. You can use the Prime service’s free shipping and do not have to add any part of that $99 fee for your items to determine their taxable status.

Links provided in the post should not be considered an endorsement of a specific product, seller, or distributor. This post is informational and meant to provide the reader with options to compare and help in building a better emergency preparedness kit. People’s Trust Insurance has no affiliation with any of these sellers or Amazon.com.