Have you thought about communication with friends and family in an unforeseen disaster or emergency? I actually wrote this post a couple of years ago, but I wanted to update it for today. I had been meeting with my neighbors to discuss a very important topic, which is communication with each other after a disaster. I had checked with a few neighbors that have purchased the walkie talkies I highly recommended.
I had a fellow by the name of Jack and another gentleman, Chris, come and talk to my emergency preparedness class a few years ago. Jack has his Ham Radio License, and Chris is a Sheriff’s Search & Rescue guy for a city near my neighborhood.
Communication With Friends & Family:
This is what I learned. The walkie talkies I had before now are good for Disneyland or talking to my neighbor across the street. I can’t talk to my neighbors with houses blocking mine .4 miles around the corner from my house. Hmmm, this does not work for me. This is why my good friend Bob invited Jack and Chris to give us the information we all need. Here’s the deal. You can get your Ham Radio License. It’s pretty cheap, $10-$15. You can REALLY talk to lots of people. All you have to do is take a class and take a test.
Amateur Radio For Communication:
This is a link to find where they teach classes in your area: Classes: ARRL Amateur Radio. No more Morse Code needed. I am excited to sign up and take this class. Ham Radio Licenses are renewable every 10 years. You can also get a GMRS License. They are about $70-$85. No test, just an application, and renewable every 5 years. Jack suggested we buy these Motorola MR350R 35-Mile Range 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair). I have personally tested these in my neighborhood and I can talk to people several blocks away. Please think about getting something to communicate with your close neighbors and then choose your “neighborhood” channel so all of you can communicate together. These are available at Amazon or Costco. They sell for about $50-60. These have 22 channels X 121 privacy codes.
Here are some communication terms that are good to know:
FRS means Family Radio Service/Limited distance for talking.
GMRS means General Mobile Radio Service (requires GMRS License). Better distance for talking usually has a “repeater” that improves coverage.
Ham or Amateur means the same thing. You need a Ham Radio License to use these.
I’d like to present a few ideas for you to consider when it comes to being properly prepared for communicating with family and friends before the disaster strikes. Hopefully, your cell phone will be available and work properly.
If so, make sure you have a list of emergency response agencies you may need to call, such as police, fire and utility companies. You will also want insurance agents and/or claim departments. You may need to contact co-workers or supervisors to let them know your status and what the future holds in the short and long term. You’ll also want your doctor’s number and the specialists for any family member who may need special attention when emergencies strike. You not only need the cell numbers for immediate family members, but also the numbers for their most frequently visited locations like work, school, church, fitness center, etc. Have the numbers of close friends and those neighbors where your kids may spend much of their time.
It is suggested that you put a few names under the “ICE” listing which stands for In Case of Emergency. Consider putting your own home or main phone number under this classification since emergency responders are trained to check this listing when they come upon individuals who physically can’t use their phone, but it is found on their person. You also need to list some contacts out of your local area in case local phone service is out of order or you need to have someone make calls to others notifying them of your status or to request help. Remember to try and keep your cell phone fully charged as often as possible. You never know when you may need that full charge before help arrives or other communication sources are made available.
Many families have given up their “land line” phones and only use cell service. Keep in mind that land lines provide an additional source of communication in case of disaster or emergency. Yes, that does prompt additional cost in your budget, so you’ll need to decide in your own personal experience if the cost is worth the perceived reward. Also, some phones use the Internet or cable services for communications. These services very likely won’t be working, particularly if the power goes out since they both require electrical power to operate. One other thing, many of us use cordless phones for the convenience of talking while we wander around the house or out in the yard. These phones also require power, so if you do have a landline in your home be sure to have one phone that is “corded” and uses the power in the phone lines themselves to operate.
Communication Fiber-Optic Lines Cut:
One note about having a landline, it will not work if someone cuts or slices the fiber-optic cable like some vandals did in Northern Arizona recently. The cable was owned by CenturyLink. They had zero back-ups for Northern Arizona for the internet, ATM’s and grocery stores were unable to accept any debit or credit cards. Cell phones that used the same cable would not work. Even the pharmacies could not fill prescriptions without the Internet to check for insurance coverage. It seems to be pretty typical for smaller towns, cities and rural areas to have zero backups. Communication between government agencies was non-existent.
Back in 2013, an underwater fiber-optic cable broke and some residents of Washington state are the San Juan Islands were without telephone and Internet service for ten days. It is critical we all have our communication plans in place before an unforeseen emergency happens.
FEMA (www.fema.gov) and other government agencies provide some valuable guidelines regarding disasters and your role. Take some time to visit their website to learn as much as you can before things get complicated and stressful. You’ll be very glad you did.
RangerRick: I vote for the Baofeng, ours are programmed with FRS, GRMS, MURS, plus they are Ham radios. They also have all the towers in the area programmed in. Be Prepared – Be Prayerful – Be Thankful- You are an American RangerRick, Automatic Survivor – Owner/Instructor