Information Storage and Retrieval for Long Term Survival Situations

May 10th, 2014 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

globeWith the explosion of reasonably priced personal electronic devices like smart phones and tablets it has become much more feasible to store information in these devices for later use in a survival situation. When these devices are coupled up with a portable solar recharging device it would enable their continued use in the case of a long term failure of the commercial power grid without expending precious fuel to run a generator just for recharging these devices.

The amounts of memory in these devices continues to grow at almost an exponential rate as the cost and physical size of the memory is dropping rapidly. Couple that up with the extremely long battery life of a tablet like the Asus Transformer and you have a readily usable platform to view your information as well as utilize GPS applications if you need to be on the move (assuming that the GPS satellite constellation is not disabled or scrambled so only military receivers will function).

Before going much further on this topic, it is important to note that these devices need to be protected if you are going to rely on them in case of some kind of catastrophic event that can produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) such as a massive solar flare or the detonation of a nuclear device. Traditional anti-static bags that are used to protect sensitive electronic components can fit the bill in many cases, this is what they were designed for. The upside is that they are light weight and inexpensive. The effectiveness of these can further be enhanced by storing the bagged item(s) in a larger metal container thus “nesting” them.

When it comes to portable power that can be renewed from the sun, the line of products from Goal Zero (http://www.goalzero.com/) is one of your best bets when it comes to portable systems, they have numerous sized systems depending on your needs.

For fixed locations the solar panel kits from Harbor Freight are a very economical solution that will fit the bill for recharging small electronics, just make sure to purchase a decent quality charge controller elsewhere. 12V to USB kits are prevalent on eBay and can be added for under $10, small inverters for 120V are also available, but they are inefficient and can drain your batteries fairly quickly. The real upside to a fixed solar installation is that you can also use low draw 12V LED lighting during the evening hours.

So, what can you store on a device that may be useful you might ask? The answer is almost anything that you can imagine that is in a digital format.
– Digitized versions of important documents
– Survival guides (as many as you can get your hands on)
– Medical texts
– Wild plant identification guides
– Planting guides
– Shelter plans
– Emergency procedures
– E-books for education and entertainment
– Military field manuals (these cover just about every subject imaginable)
– And the list goes on….

One important note here, make sure that you protect the information that is contained in these devices. Encryption is the preferred method, Android based devices offer the option of encrypting all of the memory in the device preventing it from even booting up is the proper pass-phrase is not entered. All the information that you have collected is a valuable asset, it is very important that you protect it from inappropriate access as well as the functionality of the device itself.

When you get right down to it, the electronic devices provide the ability for you to store the equivalent of several large public libraries of books in a single USB thumb drive, if there were to be a long term disruption of services the stored knowledge that you have on those devices can be absolutely invaluable.


Why is Preparedness Important?

January 12th, 2014 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

globeAlright, so you are here, reading this. Some that visit this site know what preparedness is about, and are those that are looking for more information from those that practice the lifestyle already. Maybe you are just here because of the recent cold snap that had its icy grip across the entire mid United States bringing temperatures down to well below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

It is those that have just landed here for the first time, you are the ones that this post is targeted at. Preparedness and self reliance are concepts that are being rediscovered by many in this current day and age. With terrorism, social uncertainty, global instability, and a few other things sprinkled in, it easy to see for most that things are not all going according to plan.

The tornadoes that recently tore apart the mid US followed by the more recent cold winter weather are a good starts from recent news, what about the massive floods that took place along the Mississippi river corridor back in the early nineties? Natural disasters are not a one off, they are a fact of life. No matter where you choose to live, there is a specific threat that you face.

You are here reading this because you have realized that not all is perfect in the world, that you cannot rely on (insert government here) to take care of you in time of need. Disasters like the massive tornadoes and storm systems that have ripped through the US, massive earthquakes in Japan that have wreaked havoc and caused the breach of nuclear power plants and political instabilities abound the world over cause strife that dependent individuals cannot survive.

Yes, the world is far from perfect.

The best thing that we can all do as a species is to be as self reliant as possible. Don’t get me wrong, it is ok to depend on the structured environment that has come to be in the last 100 years, but, what would you do if it was to be taken away? The corner store and the ‘just in time’ delivery system that has been established are entities that can disappear in less than a moments notice.

Those that choose to prepare are the ones that are aware of the issues that can throw a wrench in the cogs that drive modern society. They are aware that the very basis of our society is laid on a thin veneer that can crack or break at any moment. They choose to prepare because they choose to survive.

As a society, we have become dependent, dependent on systems that are flawed and fragile by their very nature. Time and time again it has been proven that this is true. Katrina anybody?

If indeed you wish to survive a ‘disaster’ you first need to look to yourself to be the one that will undertake the planning and actions that are needed to do so. An all inclusive plan cannot be laid out neatly for you by the powers that be, you need to make individual decisions on the preparations that you need to make, and when you need to make them to ensure that you and your family have the best chance to survive whatever may be thrown your way.

Bin Laden may now be dead, but terrorism is not. It is our duty to do everything in our power to make sure that the US is resilient, not just to natural disaster, but anything that is inflicted upon us by outside parties that wish to harm us.

Is there an easy answer to personal preparedness? No, even though the retailers would like to have us believe otherwise. There is a plethora of items that are currently being sold as ‘all in one solutions’, having a couple of the survival buckets sold by various retailers is nothing more than a feel good ‘Band-Aid’, they are not the fix.

The best thing that you can do is to start planning for the known things that can happen, prepare for the natural disasters that are most likely to occur in your geographical region. Plan for the worst case scenario, when it comes to natural disasters its not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’.

The real question is whether or not you are taking preparedness seriously, or just looking for a neatly packaged solution to the problem? I can safely say that the latter does not exist. There are many ways that one can prepare for potential disasters and disruptions to the system without going to the extremes that are being televised (Doomsday Preppers), although one can gain some good insights from the series.

The best way to approach it is realistically, take some time and evaluate the areas where you are really at risk. Start with the most basic and realisitc like becoming involuntarily unemployed and work your way up from there, when you come up with a plan set a schedule you can start implementing it over time (unless you happen to have a whole bunch of disposable income that you can throw at the solution).

Practicality is the key to success, keep it real and within your ability to actually achieve given the proper planning and execution.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Preparedness is a lifestyle, not a hobby to be taken up at a moments notice.


The Expiration Date Myth

September 22nd, 2013 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

maskAs I sit here writing this, I am eating a Velveeta Shells and Cheese meal that expired in early 2011.. The shelf life that is printed on most prepackaged food items is highly subjective, the only reason that the dates are there at all is the fact that the US Federal Government requires them to be printed on the packages (US FDA).

Now, depending on the packaging that is used by the manufacturer, the actual shelf life on many pre-packaged foods can actually be much longer than the date that is printed on the packages. The Shells and Cheese I am currently eating is only one example, I have also opened and consumed cans of chili and refried beans that were more than five (5) years beyond their printed expiration date on the cans and I’m still here to tell you about it (and they were still perfectly tasty).

Granted there are some danger signs that you need to be aware of like swollen packaging (cans or retort envelopes) and things that once opened just ‘don’t smell right’, believe it or not you’re sense of smell can be a lifesaver when it comes to deciding what is safe to eat and what’s not. Foods that are stored much longer than the original packager intended may change in color and texture slightly, while this may make them a bit more unpalatable, it does not make them un-edible.

This is one of the cases where it comes down to you using your best judgment and deciding what you can salvage vs. what actually needs to be disposed of.

YMMV, this advice is given with no guarantees. Sorry, no bailouts here.


Planning for Your Pet’s End

August 22nd, 2013 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

globeHow do you say goodbye to a pet that you have loved for many years? The simple answer is that you really can’t, well not easily.

When it comes to that point in their life that it becomes more humane to let them go rather than let them suffer, saying goodbye is almost impossible. It just can’t happen because you love them so much that you can’t, it’s not like a loved one in the hospital that they have exhausted every option and effort, it’s the fact that you have decided to end your pet’s life in this world with dignity and the respect that they deserve.

The word Euthanasia comes from the Greek language meaning ‘Good Death’, in the context of this article it means the act of humanely ending a pet’s life.

In hopes of helping others that are, or will be, faced with this truly unpleasant task, I will explain the process in hopes of making the decision easier for you when that time comes. The biggest piece of advice that I can give that made the biggest difference to us, is to verify what method that the vet of your choosing is going to use to euthanize your loved pet. The two stage method is the most humane from our view, some vets use this method, while others don’t. Whether it predicated on cost or belief we cannot answer. At this point we cannot estimate the number of vets that use the single stage, it is our belief that this method is rarely used anymore (no facts to support this, YMMV).

The two stage method consists of the vet first injecting your pet with a powerful sedative, in our case the vet used a mixture of Ketamine and Valium that ensured that our dog slowly went to sleep very peacefully over the space of about five to ten minutes. When your pet is calm and quiet this gives you the chance to comfort them and say your goodbyes as they slowly drift off to sleep. Once fully asleep and non-responsive the second injection is given. The second injection is a massive overdose of phenobarbital or similar barbiturate that essentially shuts down the brain in a matter of seconds after being administered.

Once your pet has ‘clinically’ passed there are a small percentage of animals that will take an additional ‘involuntary’ breath before finally stilling, this can be quite unsettling as is seems like they are gasping for a last breath. Fortunately it does not happen very often, and if it does, take comfort in the fact of knowing that they are already gone.

The two stage method has an advantage over the single stage method, which we have witnessed as well, the sedatives help to suppress additional involuntary breaths and twitching that is caused by random discharges from the brain after death. I cannot stress how important it is for a pet owner NOT to see things like this when they are euthanizing a loved pet, it gives the impression that they are suffering even though in reality they have already passed.

Regardless of the method used by the vet to euthanize a pet the experience is traumatic for all involved, witnessing the passing of a pet that you have loved dearly for many years is not easy. It may be hard, but being there for them when they pass is one of that last things that you can do to ease them during their transition to Rainbow Bridge where they will be waiting for you to reclaim them.

So, I’m sure at this point that you are wondering why something like this is posted here of all places. The reason is that the death of a pet is like anything else that we all need to be prepared for, it’s not all about your preps and what you have gathered to see you through a catastrophic event. It’s also about being prepared for the things in life that you know are coming and are going to be difficult to deal with, the ending of a pet’s life most assuredly falls in this category. In the end this is the final thing that you can do for your loved pet, planning ahead to ensure that they have a painless and dignified passing when the time comes is something that you should be informed and aware about when that sad day comes.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet, I rely on my observations and the questions that I asked the few times that we have had to go through this ordeal. Make sure you are informed, ask your vet questions, if you don’t like the answers, get another opinion from another vet. This information is being passed along due to the fact that we have been through this too many times already, and unfortunately we will endure it again.

More information on the subject can be found Here


Oral Health and Preparedness

April 16th, 2013 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

globeDental problems are one of the most common things that can occur in a disaster or survival situation. Going to see the dentist is not everyone’s favorite thing, but it is necessary.

Dental problems can range from the mildly annoying to life threatening, having an abscess when there is neither a dentist or antibiotics available can be, and is historically proven to be, fatal.

While bar soap and toilet paper are always on everyone’s list for items to stock, what about toothpaste, toothbrushes and even items for dental emergencies on your list?

Preventative maintenance is really a key factor, this one even Hollywood takes notice of. Remember Tom Hanks in Cast Away? Prior to boarding the fateful flight he had complained of a tooth that was bothering him, but would “get around to it later”. Removing an infected tooth with an ice skate blade and a rock is not really my idea of a fun day. Lesson learned: a trip to the dentist to address the problem immediately would have saved a lot of pain later, or worse if the ice skate procedure had gone bad.

Another thing to consider is that poor oral health has been directly linked to heart problems, the same bacteria that causes tooth decay is responsible for causing plaque buildup in veins and arteries. After successfully surviving an event and then having a fatal heart attack at your remote bugout location, or what have you, kind of defeats the whole purpose of all the preparedness planning that you had previously spent so much time on.

Granted, in the event of any kind of event that places survivors on their own for extended periods, there are more chances for something to go wrong that even preventive maintenance is not going to address. For this including knowledge in your preparedness plans is also essential. On the dental aspect, there is the book “Where there is no Dentist” (available in the downloads section of this site) that details emergency oral care when the professionals are not available.

Conversely, the companion book “Where there is no Doctor” is also another title that should be in every prepper’s library (also available in the downloads section of this site). 

Good oral health is one of the best things that you can have under your belt when it comes to a preparedness lifestyle. This one aspect does not negate the need for overall health, but it is an aspect that can lead to many other problems if not attended to properly.

For dental emergencies there are several good products on the market that should be in everyone’s first aid kit. A good example is the kits aimed at the deep water boating community like this one http://www.landfallnavigation.com/sfa36.html

As with all things in life, you mileage may vary. But by taking the initiative you are acting to increase your mileage.


The Source of the Food You Eat (Meat)

January 24th, 2013 Citizen Zero Posted in The Slow Collapse of Society | No Comments »

libertyI fully realize that this image below has made its way around the net many times as a piece of humor, but it really underlines just how serious the disconnect is between modern society and the source of its food. This is only one of the numerous anecdotes that I have seen over the last few years that supports my observation when it comes to this. The other fact that I have observed repeatedly in person is the fact that most of the younger generation have no idea how to prepare their own meals unless they come out of a box in the freezer with microwave instructions, a can or over the counter from the local fast food joint.

 

 

Meat

Out of touch with reality

 

I can understand the desire to not process an animal from the raw product that is standing and breathing into cuts in the freezer yourself, it is a messy and smelly affair. But its life plain and simple! For people to eat meat, a living creature has to die in the process, there is no way around this (zombies consuming live humans is not applicable since they are no longer people, but the individual being consumed generally does die in the process or becomes one of the undead themselves if they manage to escape only partially eaten).

I can tell you that I have personally killed and processed both wild game and livestock; it is not pretty or fun by any means. But, having an entire generation that is pretty much oblivious to where their food comes from is a dangerous thing for American society as a whole; I won’t even delve into the practices of the commercial entities that produce said foodstuffs here since that is an entirely different subject.

While I don’t agree that it is a good idea to ship kids off by the bus load to the local slaughter house to see how its done, but I do strongly feel that they should be taught that the shiny wrapped packages of meat in the cooler at the supermarket were once living creatures that walked around on their own before becoming dinner for another living thing higher in the food chain.

Like I stated earlier, what’s worse is the fact that we have an entire generation out there that most of which has little idea of what to do if they were faced with the raw components of a meal being placed in front of them and they were asked to make a meal out of it without consulting an internet search engine first (even given the internet I’m sure they would go for the solution that says to stuff it in the microwave).

Hunting and processing wild game, killing and butchering livestock and making meals from the raw components are life skills that are invaluable. Granted they may be skills that are not going to be used every day in most cases, with the exception of actually cooking, but if the need arises all should have the knowledge and skills to do it properly, safely and humanely (the latter mainly pertains to the killing part, but you probably want to follow the same guideline for what you cook up in consideration of yourself and those that you are feeding).

Am I advocating killing? No. Am I advocating the ability to feed yourself from sources other than boxes from the freezer, cans and preparing meals from scratch even if killing the animal yourself is part of the process? Absolutely! Killing is a part of life when it comes to eating. Meat is not murder, its what’s for dinner.

The content of the image may or may not be a true newspaper editorial response, but the message is conveys is very true, modern society in America is out of touch with its roots for the most part.


Here We Go Again…

September 3rd, 2012 Citizen Zero Posted in Natural or Manmade Disasters, News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

Here we are again, history repeats itself. Hurricane Issac, which was later downgraded to a tropical depression has left behind a swath of damage that in some respects was worse than Katrina (higher flood levels). However it was good to see that more homeowners followed the directions to evacuate and the ones that chose to stay in place were better prepared than they were when Katrina hit seven years ago.

The mere fact that this is happening again underlines the fact that you need to be prepared, while you may not live in a region that is as prone to disaster than the Louisiana coastline, it does not negate the fact that bad things happen to good people on a consistent basis.

The recent fires in eastern Washington are just another example, sadly in this case I did not hear of anyone that was actually prepared and had a plan to deal with wildfire (a very common occurrence in that area). More than sixty homes burned from the initial fire that was set inadvertently by a welder repairing Taylor Bridge, unfortunately a firefighter was killed by a falling tree while battling the wildfire.

The bottom line is that you need to take a very close hard look at the threats that may present themselves where you live, being prepared and having a plan is something that will allow you to keep your wits about you when it all goes wrong. Not having a plan is nothing more than planning to fail.

While I normally advocate bugging out as a last option, in cases like flood and wildfire it should be your first choice, if you can see it coming, get out ahead of the tide. Property can be replaced, lives cannot!

My heart goes out to the victims of the disasters that have recently befallen the US, but the disasters should also be taken as a reminder to us all that we need to be prepared to fend for ourselves.


Fragility of the ‘Just in Time’ Supply System

June 17th, 2012 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

One thing that has been touched upon in several past articles is the ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) supply system that drives the US, namely the fragility of this system.

Growing up I remember getting oranges in my Christmas stocking, when I was young I could never figure this one out, it was only when I grew older that I learned the significance of this gift. It was a tradition that predated the JIT system that moves foods hundreds, and many times thousands, of miles from where it was produced to your local supermarket.

Prior to the JIT system oranges were not something that was available year round, let alone across theUSfrom where they were mainly grown. The significance was the fact that it was an expensive treat back in the day to get citrus fruits when you lived in an area where they would not grow.

Today with the JIT system we enjoy food and goods from all over the planet, the result of this is that local production and consumption has dropped to its lowest point in US history. The dependence on the JIT system to feed the population of theUS is a disaster waiting to happen and the way that the system is put together it is extremely vulnerable to failure.

The main vulnerability is the interdependence of so many moving parts that when one breaks it affects almost the whole machine. The epitome that really shows this was when hurricane Katrina destroyed most of New Orleans. When this happened the stores that remained standing were quickly emptied of what little they had left and FEMA struggled for weeks trying to keep food and water deliveries flowing into the area.

This major failure is probably one of the reasons that FEMA came out and stated publicly that in the event of major disasters the reality is that they will not be able to provide help for days, weeks or even months depending on the magnitude of the disaster. During the aftermath of Katrina FEMA quickly found the limitations of the JIT system when it tried to reroute supplies quickly to the disaster area after its propositioned stockpiles were exhausted That didn’t work out too well.

The JIT system relies on the fact that deliveries of food, fuel, fertilizer and other goods will happen on a daily basis and will arrive on time exactly when needed. There is no room for shocks to the system like Katrina provided, as a result it failed in that area.

Things like coordinated cyber attacks against infrastructure and not just theories anymore, they are proven facts. Stuxnet was the first of these to be brought to light, a virus that specifically targeted Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems (SCADA), and just recently the Flame virus was discovered and brought to light. Both are very sophisticated viruses that were capable of inflicting severe damage to infrastructure if they were instructed to do so.

The JIT system is highly dependant on the computer networks that carry information to place orders, confirm deliveries and track the whereabouts of goods in transit. The transportation system that underlies JIT, if for some reason the fuel stops flowing, so does the transportation system that keeps JIT alive.

Based on the American Truckers Association Report here are some interesting facts about what would happen if this transportation network were to be disrupted:

Food

  • Food shortages would begin in a little as three days, especially perishable items.
  • Consumer panic would significantly amplify this problem due to panic buying which could lead to potential civil unrest.

Water

  • The supply of clean drinking water could disappear in as little as two to four weeks. When the chemicals to treat the water are used up that’s all she wrote for safe water.

Healthcare

  • Many hospitals have moved to JIT inventory systems, any stoppage in the deliveries would cause immediate shortages in basic supplies that are needed to care for patients.
  • Hospitals and elder care facilities would exhaust food supplies in as little as 24 hours.
  • Prescription drugs will be depleted quickly, most of the 55,000 pharmacies depend on daily shipments.

Transportation

  • Gas station fuel supplies would start to run out in 24-48 hours.
  • Air, rail and maritime transportation would be disrupted.
  • Without fuel for personal transportation many people cannot access grocery stores, banks, healthcare facilities and other daily needs.
  • Public transportation would cease.
  • Without fuel emergency services would be paralyzed further jeopardizing public safety.

Waste Removal

  • Within days of curbside pickup Americans would be awash in a sea of garbage.
  • Processing facilities for waste would grind to a halt without fuel to power equipment.
  • Uncollected waste would become a breeding ground for disease, insects and other vermin.
  • Urban areas would be hit the hardest and the fastest with problems starting in days.

Retail / Manufacturing / Economy

  • Replenishment of goods would be disrupted. Retail stores that maintain low inventory levels that rely on JIT practices would have inventories depleted in short order.
  • Consumers would add to these woes as panic buying ensues, this behavior is routinely noted during hurricanes and other disasters.
  • Manufacturers that rely on JIT to supply raw materials, parts and components will shut down their production lines.

Financial Sector

  • Consumers access cash 24/7 from 370,000 ATMs nationwide. JP Morgan Chase, the nation’s second largest consumer bank, replenishes its 6,600 ATMs via armored truck delivery every two to three days. Given the increase in ATM activity that occurs before and after any type of crisis, ATMs would run out of cash much sooner.
  • Small and Medium businesses would loose access to cash.
  • Regular banking functions would cease.

While it may sound really far fetched, you really need to ask yourself if it’s really possible. Consider the following when thinking about this:

  • Organized cyber warfare is no longer just a theory, it’s a proven fact (Stuxnet, Flame and hacktivists like Anonymous)[1]. Attacks against the very communications network that supports the JIT system are possible.
  • The existing electrical distribution infrastructure in the US is facing ever increasing demand and has not seen any real upgrades in decades[2].
  • International economic issues than can affect the price and availability of fuel that powers the JIT distribution system.
  • China and Russia have stopped using the US Dollar as the standard currency for purchasing oil from OPEC member countries, this further undermines the US dollar[3].

The fragility of the JIT system is just one of the reasons that we all should be looking to local producers for the food we eat and products that we buy whenever possible. With the resurgence of urban and rural gardening for food, this helps, but it is still not a solution to the far reaching problems that the JIT system has created inAmerica.

Not that I want to beat up on the JIT system too badly, it has brought many things to many people that would not otherwise have access to them, but the darker side it that the system has also created a dependence that is not easily broken. History has already shown when the system is taken away at a local or regional level that the withdrawals associated with that dependence are severe.



Portable Solar Power for Small Electronics

April 30th, 2012 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

With small electronics like smart phones and tablets becoming more and more popular it is important to look at these devices as tools that can also be utilized in survival or disaster situations. The devices that are currently being produced have the ability to hold massive amounts of text based data (aka. e-books), your typical smart phone can hold the equivalent of hundreds, if not thousands, of books (depending on the on-board memory capacity). But in the end it all comes down to keeping these devices powered when commercial power is not available.

Recently I had the chance to put one of the solar solutions that are currently being marketed to the test, and I can say that the results were quite surprising. The unit that I purchased is the Goal Zero Guide 10 with the Nomad 3.5 solar panel, MSRP of $129.95 but was found for $104.99 at a local big box store. The unit is targeted towards those that are active outdoors and wish to charge smart phones and other devices that can be charged via USB while they are on the move.

The dual solar panels and charge regulator on the Nomad 3.5 are housed in a nylon case with a zipper pocket that folds up neatly and it is easily stowed away when not in use. Also included is the Guide 10 unit that houses four AA Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries. Per the manufacturer it takes approximately 6 hours of direct sunlight to charge the batteries and 8 hours to charge them via USB from your computer or laptop. In my experience the stated charge rate was consistent when the sky was overcast (it is the Pacific Northwest after all) but only around 4-5 hours in direct sunlight (YMMV).

Charging devices from the Guide 10 power pack is as easy as switching it on and plugging the device you want to charge into the USB port on the power pack. I was able to charge two smart phones (iPhone and Blackberry) from the power pack before it needed a recharge from the panel.

For daytime charging I found that the charge rate for connected smart phones was good with the solar panels also plugged in, the lengthened the amount of charging time available for devices considerably while still leaving charging capacity available after the sun has set for the day.

The solar panel itself has two output ports on it, one that is unregulated to charge the Guide 10 power pack and another USB port that is regulated to 5V @ 2.5W. The manufacturer states that the panel is not intended to directly charge smart phones and similar devices, but it can be used to charge other types of batteries such as Lithium Ion CR123A batteries (batteries and USB charging cradles are available on eBay fairly inexpensively).

Overall I would have to give the Goal Zero Guide 10 at least four stars for utility and practical use as it fills its intended role for charging mobile devices whether or not the sun is shining without making your wallet scream. I would recommend buying additional AA Lithium Ion batteries though, with the charge rate being approximately 4 hours per set of batteries this would allow you to charge two sets of batteries per day.


Airtight Storage On the Cheap

March 28th, 2012 Citizen Zero Posted in News and Other Preparedness Related Articles | No Comments »

One thing that most people that are storing things away for a rainy day are short on is good airtight/watertight storage containers. Granted there is the usual school of using 5 gallon buckets, while this is all well and good (excellent for the test of time), but what about smaller sizes? Not necessarily food, but other items that are sensitive to moisture like seeds.

There is a myriad of solutions that are available on the shelves of the local big box and there is the good old Mason Jar, but the latter is rather fragile when it comes to being dropped or roughly handled. Ironically enough when I was wandering through the local big box home improvement warehouse I spotted a good alternative that was very easy on the wallet, empty paint cans that come with lids. Their purpose being to store leftover paint or custom colors that you have mixed yourself.

For the low price of $2.97 ea. one can obtain quart sized cans that hold a reasonable amount of dry goods (or non-edible liquids that are not corrosive). The cans are fully lined and while not the perfect solution, they will last for many years while keeping their contents safe and dry (or liquid).

Availble at Lowes and other big box home improvement stores.

As to exactly what you can store, use your imagination :-)