Your water heater – after the earthquake

February 8, 2014

A lot of folks think they don’t need to store water at home, for post-earthquake use, since they have a lot in their water heater, 50 gallons plus.  But it may not be wise to depend on it.

It is well known that after a Cascadia earthquake (9.0+) the water mains all over the Northwest will break, pressure will go to zero, and whatever comes into your house (in low areas) will probably be contaminated.

Therefore Point #1: know where your water shutoff is.  (Most people don’t have a clue)

Point #2: your water heater may be strapped securely to wall studs, but there is no guarantee it won’t tip over or rupture.  But let’s assume it’s ok after the quake.

Point #3: drain a glass of water from the bottom drain, let it cool, and then drink it.  It will taste awful.  This is because of the sediment that collects at the bottom.  Of course you can let a bucket settle, or filter it – you should have a microfilter like the Seychelles filtration bottles, which allows you to drink water from streams and puddles – but not contaminated water, for example from lawn runoff.  And you can buy tablets to treat the water.

The solution is easy: every month, drain a gallon from your water heater.  In 3-4 months, the sediment will be gone and the water tastes completely normal.

But don’t try this with old (20 years or more) water heaters.  The sediment may have built up at the bottom of your heater, and draining it may cause the inner lining to fracture – not good.  But then maybe you need a new energy efficient water heater anyway.

Feedback and comments welcome.  Also see our home page,

Satphone and BGAN users: please read this

February 1, 2013

To our field partners: Vizada is now known as Astrium.  Vizada was recently purchased by Astrium, a European company.   There is a new email address for Customer Care, but otherwise there are no significant changes.  The same team in Rockville, Maryland will be there to assist you.

And two brief reminders:

First, we sometimes learn that a BGAN user has not updated firmware or Launchpad in more than a year.   This will cause problems, especially for those of  you in remote jungle or island regions who can’t get the updates easily.

Second, if you haven’t used your satphone or BGAN in a while, please test it – please.  No excuses.  Relief teams shouldn’t wait for the next disaster, when you’ll have your hands full with a hundred other tasks.  Be sure you have your power cord, accessories, spare batteries, DC vehicle chargers, etc. etc.

You’ll be glad you did!

Loaner satphones

October 30, 2012

HumaniNet has a small number of older-model Iridium satellite phones, which are available for loan to relief teams operating in the Hurricane Sandy response or other emergency.

The only costs will be Fedex shipment and satphone service with Vizada.  Prepaid options are available.

It may be possible to loan a BGAN satellite terminal for full Internet, but there will be a small fee for its use.

For more information, email info (at)

Prepaid now in North America for BGAN and Isatphone

October 30, 2012

Effective in October, Inmarsat now offers prepaid service for BGAN and Isatphone in North America.

Isatphone increments are as low as $28.50 for approximately 22 minutes, 30 days expiry.

This change will be very beneficial to relief teams operating in emergencies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

For more information, email info (at)

Changes to IsatPhone Emergency Plan

August 25, 2010

Vizada’s Isatphone Emergency Plan, with 60 minutes of airtime included, now costs $345 per year and includes 60 minutes of airtime.  This is still a good deal for users who need a “standby” satphone with minimal usage.  The per-minute rate beyond the 60 minutes in the package is very affordable.

IsatPhone from Inmarsat is available through HumaniNet for $650.   There are also standard plan and prepaid options.

The Isatphone weighs just 9.8 ounces (279g), has integrated GPS, and allows easy text messaging.   Coverage is worldwide, but prepaid service is not available in North America.    Click here for specs and details.

You can read about our testing of the IsatPhone at the HumaniNet Web site.

Email us at if you would like more information.

Wireless Networking in the Developing World

January 30, 2010

Imagine trying to piece together a wireless network with no manuals, sporadic and slow access to the Internet, inadequate tools, a shortage of supplies, and in the most inclement weather. A recently published book, “Wireless Networking in the Developing World,” is a highly regarded resource for solving these problems.  You can access this book in PDF form, at no cost, at