By Deborah Netburn
2:21 PM PST, December 19, 2012
The 5,125-year-long cycle of the Mayan calendar will come to an end on Friday, Dec. 21, and some people worry this will also mark the end of the world as we know it.
NASA scientists, the federal government and historians who study Mayan culture are emphatic that the world will not end, so I'm not worrying and neither should you.
But just in case the experts are wrong, it may be a good time to consider what gadgets to put in your emergency kit. Besides, it would be be handy in other catastrophes too, such as earthquakes -- something we really need to worry about here in L.A.
An emergency radio like the American Red Cross FRX3 from Etón ($60) is a good place to start. It is a compact unit that lets you access AM, FM and shortwave radio with NOAA weather forecasts. It also has a flashlight and a piercing emergency siren. But our favorite part is the USB port that can be used to charge your beloved cellphone (as long as you buy a USB cable too).
The radio has a built-in rechargable battery and can run on solar power or a hand crank, so even if your power is out, you'll still be able to use it.
Solar-powered battery charger
If your car is still running, you may be able to charge your devices through the cellphone charger for your car. You can also purchase a solar-powered cellphone charger that will never run out of batteries -- as long as the doomsday scenario has not knocked out the sun. The Revive external solar battery pack (on sale at Amazon for $27.99) works with dozens of devices.
If you'd like your solar cellphone charger to also blast music, consider Etón's Rukus Solar ($150). It is compatible with the iPhone and iTouch, runs entirely on solar power and has eight tiny speakers.
You might also consider a solar-powered flashlight. L.L. Bean sells a compact waterproof version ($22) that comes in a variety of colors. Eight hours of solar charge time during daylight hours will give you 12 hours of light, and if you accidentally drop it in a puddle, or even in the ocean, it should still work fine.
Even if cellphone service is unavailable, a smartphone loaded with emergency apps can be helpful in times of crisis. The Survival Guide app (free), based on the U.S. military survival manual, includes information on everything from how to build a hammock to how to find water safe for drinking. You don't need cellular service to use the app.
There are several free Flashlight apps for smartphones that you can use to find where you put your solar-powered flashlight. Most of these apps tap into the smartphone's LED flash, so the light is quite bright. Some include a usual survival tool: a compass.
Don't underestimate your phone's power to keep you occupied while you wait for help, either. Your phone's emergency kit might include Temple Run, Solitaire, Angry Birds and Tetris.
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