Ham Radios and CB radios have been around longer than many of us care to remember.
What few realize is how often they are used in disasters even today.
Even as recently as Hurricane Maria, that wiped out much of Puerto Rico,
ham radio played a major part in communications during their disaster.
In many cases, it was the only form of communication on the island.
Ham radio played a major role in letting people know their loved ones were ok
even when contacted from the mainland USA.
Ham Radio in Emergency Operations.
Please read as it covers the subject better than I ever could.
The fact is even public utilities use Ham Radio as a backup.
At the very least a Police, EMS, and weather scanner will be helpful.
As usual, I like to throw in some real life experiences and yes, it involved Hurricane Irma
that started me down the prepper, preparing road.
Hurricane Irma was the strongest observed in the Atlantic in terms of maximum sustained winds
since Wilma and the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region
The cyclone made landfall in Cudjoe Key, Florida, on September 10, 2017 as Category 4
intensity, with winds of 130 mph
By the time it hit me, mid Florida, it was down to between Cat 2 and Cat 3
but still above 100 mph winds.
Power went out quickly and cell coverage was spotty at best due to power outages and over-use
In short, I was without power for over a week. I survived by my genertor to run my
well pump and a
small inverter which I discussed in another article.
This is where my small, 2 meter, ham radio started to play a part in my well being.
I was not as prepared as I thought I was. I was ok on water but short on gasoline
and some food items.
I already knew that many gas stations were already
out of gas due to evacuations.
However, within minutes of asking about gasoline on my ham radio, I already knew
still had gas and power to pump it.
Another call on my ham radio and I found out what grocery stores were still
solving my food shortage issues without driving all over hell looking for open stores.
Basically I like to think of emergency communications as having 3 flavors.
High end Ham Radios with big antennas and many frequencies to choose from.
2 meter mobile or hand held units which can be simply run off a 12 volt battery.
Lastly there is the old stand by, CB radio, which also runs off 12 volt batteries.
I'll stick to the 2 meter and CB radios as the high end units are expensive and
more knowledge than I want to dig into here.
One thing I want to make clear is it's best to have a Ham License to use 2 meters.
However during a disaster, well, it's a disaster.
2 Meter Ham Radios. I have a Yaesu FT-2900R. Along with a simple J-pole antenna on
An alternative would be the Kenwood TM-281A.
I can count on approx. 25 mile range.
Repeaters around the state extend that range quite a bit and you can hear
than you can send a signal. Just listening requires little power.
CB Radios: I use a simple to use Galaxy DX-959B. 40 channel with upper and lower sideband.
For an antenna I use a Solarcon A-99 CB Base Station Antenna.
There are no repeaters on CB but I'm able to reach out approx. 10 miles.
This may not sound like much but during a disaster, you'd be amazed by how
many people are on the air.
Using Single Side Band mode, (SSB) that distance can be far greater. The world with the right conditions.
Required reading on installing ham and cb radio antennas safely.
You might be asking yourself, why doesn't he mention satellite phones? Very good reason.
Any prepper channel recommending Satellite Phones for SHTF, doesn't know what they're talking about
or worse, just trying to sell you one.
The Myth of the "grid down" Satellite Phone.
Here's how a Satellite Phone works in easy steps.
Your Satellite phone contacts the Satellite in orbit.
The Satellite sends a signal to a "ground based" authentication network.
(I bet you can see the problem already.)
The authentication network confirms that you have an account and phone is registered.
It then sends a signal back to the Satellite saying it's ok for that phone to work. (billing purposes)
So, let's say you want to call someone's cell phone.
The signal then goes back to the authentication network to be connected to a cell phone network.
The satellite phone DOES NOT connect directly to a cell phone or land line.
So if the cell phone or phone network is down, you can't call that number.
So, who are you going to call with your fancy Sat Phone?
Oh, and don't believe the movies. Satellite Phones do NOT work inside structures.
They must see the sky. At least have line of sight to a Satellite in orbit.
Bring your gps unit inside your house and try it. Same issue with Satellite Phones.
No signal and can't find any satellites in orbit.
But, Satellite Phone troubles go way beyond the above issues. More bad news.
The satellite phone depends on a ground based authentication network to
allow it to work PERIOD.
Hence, if the ground based network is without power, even two satellite phones can't talk to each other
because there is no way to validate the accounts and phones.
Satellite Phones are as dependent on the grid as any normal cell phone.
The only exceptions are Military Satellite Phones but that's another story.
Please don't believe a satellite phone will work in a total grid down situation. It won't!
You now own a very expensive brick.
Is there a place for Satellite Phones? Yes, but only for their intended purpose.
The whole idea behind Satellite Phones was to enable communications when the user was
in a location
with no cell phone coverage or radio coverage of any kind.
For instance. If you were at a bug out location with no cell coverage but
of the networks were working, you could make calls. How likely is that in a SHTF event?
I hope this beginner guide helps you, in some way, to prepare for total communication breakdowns.