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. 20 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.
I hope this beginner guide helps you, in some way, to prepare for total communication breakdowns.