Communicating during an emergency may be essential not only for survival, but to help locate loved ones and garner news about an unfolding scenario.
Cell phone signals and Internet access are typically the first “services” to cease operating during either a natural or man-made disaster, and landlines may not be far behind. The GPS gadgets so many people rely upon to get to point B from point A will not be helpful if they are built into your vehicle and roads are clogged or something like an EMP attack has rendered the big hunks of metal useless.
Here are some alternative forms of electronic communication. (Keep in mind that building a Faraday cage may be necessary to protect what you own.)
1. Citizens Band Radios
CB radios can allow you to contact folks living many miles away, depending upon the quality of the device. Despite all the modern technology now available at our fingertips, the vast majority of truck drivers still have CB radios in their tractor-trailers – just like in the cult classic Smokey and the Bandit. Using a Citizens Band radio to find out what is going on not only in the extended region, but on the road you travel home, will help you avoid getting mired down in any traffic that is still moving and to avoid problem areas.
Never used a CB radio? Here are some tips from TruckerCountry.com:
The squelch is the control gate for incoming signals. This control cuts off or eliminates receiver background noise [white noise] when you’re not receiving an incoming signal. You can either set the squelch so that you receive all signals within your range, or so that you can only receive the strongest signals, usually those signals closest to you. Turn the squelch control clockwise to close the gate and only allow the strongest signals to enter. Turn the control counterclockwise to open the gate and allow all signals to enter. The desired squelch setting [DSS] is achieved by turning the control counterclockwise until you hear background noise, then turn the control clockwise just until the noise disappears. This is a good listening level.
2. 2-Meter and 10-Meter Radios
The 2-meter radios offer the ability to contact local law enforcement authorities and first responders. Monitoring rescue and recovery efforts, and any evolving unrest, will likely also be beneficial to the family’s survival. Some claim that 10-meter radios have allowed them to speak to others living several hundred miles away, but such ability would likely vary dependent upon location and terrain around the home.
3. FRS and GMRS Radios
The Family Radio Service (FRS) was enacted in 1996. During the past decade or so multiple businesses have also begun using the radio frequencies for communications throughout the workday. FRS radios were an improvement on standard walkie-talkie and allowed frequencies to be “channelized.” Both FRS and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios utilize ultra-high frequencies, or UHF. Most versions of the radio come with squelch codes known as DCS CTCSS. This attribute permits users to squelch out most unwanted transmissions from transmitting radio traffic, which conserves the life of the battery. FRS radios must have a permanent antenna to function and are restricted to 500-milliwatts. The typical range for such a radio is about one-fourth to one and a half miles – depending upon the surrounding terrain. GMRS radios can have an extended transmission range, also still dependent upon the geographic area.
Channels 1 through 7 are shared between FRS and GMRS usage.
Channels 8 -14 are designed for FRS only.
Channels 15-22 are reserved solely for GMRS and require a license by the FCC to use.
4. HAM radios.
The HAM radio has played an integral role in every disaster this nation has faced for over 100 years. HAM will remain functional even when modern communication devices become worthless. The seemingly old-fashioned devices are extremely reliable and allow users to connect with the outside world when Internet access, cell towers, and phone land lines are no longer functional.
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HAM radio codes
QRL – The frequency is busy, do not interfere. Also used to ask if the frequency is busy.
QRM – An abbreviation for interference from other radio signals.
QRN – An abbreviation for interference from either man-made or natural static.
QRO – A request or alert to increase power.
QRP – A request or alert to decrease power.
QRQ – A request or question to send information faster.
QRS – A request or question to send information more slowly.
QRT – A question or request to stop sending information.
QRU – A response or question about the availability of sending more information.
QRV – Either, I am ready, or are you ready?
QRX – Standby.
QRZ – A request for identification of information sender.
QSL – Received and understood.
QSB – Signal is fading.
QST – All call before a message to all amateur HAM radio operators.
QSX – I am listening on “insert kHz frequency.
QSY – Change to “inset kHz frequency.
QTH – Use to request a location or as an alert prior to giving a location.
5. Weather Radios
NOAA weather radios are also an important item to consider. The broadcasts by the agency share weather and related emergency information designed for specific listening areas. There are approximately 425 NOAA transmitters currently active in America, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and Guam. Canada has its own version of the weather alert system, one which can be reached via the Internet.
Each NOAA transmitter covers roughly 40 miles from the device site. About 80 percent of the United States is included in the NOAA transmitter area. Typically, the weather alert agency’s broadcasts are on air 24-hours a day and updated when special warnings or hazards become apparent. During times of severe weather, amateur HAM radio operators contact the NOAA weather system on specific radio frequencies to offer local updates. NOAA operates on seven different frequencies outside of the typical AM/FM radio bands:
CB Channel Frequency Details
Channel 1 26.965 MHz
Channel 2 26.975 MHz
Channel 3 26.985 MHz Prepper CB Network (AM)
Channel 4 27.005 MHz The American Pepper’s Network
Channel 5 27.015 MHz
Channel 6 27.025 MHz
Channel 7 27.035 MHz
Channel 8 27.055 MHz
Channel 9 27.065 MHz REACT Channel – Emergency CB radio use
Channel 10 27.075 MHz
Channel 11 27.085 MHz
Channel 12 27.105 MHz
Channel 13 27.115 MHz Popular with campers, RV drivers, and boaters
Channel 14 27.125 MHz Federal Motor Coach Association
Channel 15 27.135 MHz Popular with California truck drivers
Channel 16 27.155 MHz Popular with ATV clubs
Channel 17 27.165 MHz Also popular with California tractor-trailer drivers
Channel 18 27.175 MHz
Channel 19 27.185 MHz Primary truck driver chat channel
Channel 20 27.205 MHz
Channel 21 27.215 MHz
Channel 22 27.225 MHz
Channel 23 27.255 MHz
Channel 24 27.235 MHz
Channel 25 27.245 MHz
Channel 26 27.265 MHz
Channel 27 27.275 MHz
Channel 28 27.285 MHz
Channel 29 27.295 MHz
Channel 30 27.305 MHz
Channel 31 27.315 MHz
Channel 32 27.325 MHz
Channel 33 27.335 MHz
Channel 34 27.345 MHz
Channel 35 27.355 MHz Australian channel
Channel 36 27.365 MHz
Channel 37 27.375 MHz Prepper 37 channel
Channel 38 27.385 MHz
Channel 39 27.395 MHz
Channel 40 27.405 MHz
Prepper Freeband and CB Radio Frequencies
CB 3 (AM) 26.9850MHz Prepper Channel
CB 36(USB) 27.3650MHz Survivalist Channel
CB 37 (USB) 27.3750MHz Prepper CB Network – AM
Freeband(USB) 27.3680MHz Survivalist Network
Freeband(USB) 27.3780MHz Prepper Channel
Freeband(USB) 27.4250MHz Survivalist Network
HAM Emergency Frequencies
FREQ MODE LOCATION
03808.0 LSB Caribbean Wx
03845.0 LSB Gulf Coast West Hurricane
03862.5 LSB Mississippi Section Traffic
03865.0 LSB West Virginia Emergency
03872.5 LSB Mercury Amateur Radio Association – hurricane emergency
03873.0 LSB West Gulf ARES Emergency (night)
03873.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana ARES Emergency, Mississippi ARES Emergency
03910.0 LSB Central Texas Emergency, Mississippi ARES, Louisiana Traffic
03915.0 LSB South Carolina SSB NTS
03923.0 LSB Mississippi ARES, North Carolina ARES Emergency
03925.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana Emergency
03927.0 LSB North Carolina ARES
03935.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana ARES, Texas ARES, Mississippi ARES and Alabama Emergency
03940.0 LSB Southern Florida Emergency
03944.0 LSB West Gulf Emergency
03950.0 LSB Hurricane Watch (Amateur-to-National Hurricane Center), Northern Florida Emer.
03955.0 LSB South Texas Emergency
03960.0 LSB North East Coast Hurricane
03965.0 LSB Alabama Emergency
03967.0 LSB Gulf Coast – outgoing only
03975.0 LSB Georgia ARES, Texas RACES
03993.5 LSB Gulf Coast Health and Welfare
03993.5 LSB South Carolina ARES and RACES Emergency
03995.0 LSB Gulf Coast Wx
07145.0 LSB Bermuda
07165.0 LSB Antigua/Antilles Emergency and Weather, Inter-island 40-meter (continuous watch)
07225.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
07232.0 LSB North Carolina ARES Emergency
07235.0 LSB Louisiana Emergency, Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana Emergency
07240.0 LSB American Red Cross US Gulf Coast Disaster, Texas Emergency
07242.0 LSB Southern Florida ARES Emergency
07243.0 LSB Alabama Emergency, South Carolina Emergency
07245.0 LSB Southern Louisiana
07247.5 LSB Northern Florida ARES Emergency
07248.0 LSB Texas RACES
07250.0 LSB Texas Emergency
07254.0 LSB Northern Florida Emergency
07260.0 LSB Gulf Coast West Hurricane
07264.0 LSB Gulf Coast Health and Welfare
07265.0 LSB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio
07268.0 LSB Bermuda
07273.0 LSB Texas ARES
07275.0 LSB Georgia ARES
07280.0 LSB NTS Region 5, Louisiana Emergency
07283.0 LSB Gulf Coast – outgoing only
07285.0 LSB West Gulf ARES Emergency and Louisiana ARES Emergency
07285.0 LSB Mississippi ARES Emergency, Texas ARES Emergency
07290.0 LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Gulf Coast Wx, Louisiana ARES, Texas ARES and Mississippi ARES
14185.0 USB Caribbean Emergency
14222.0 USB Health and Welfare
14245.0 USB Health and Welfare
14265.0 USB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio
14268.0 USB Amateur Radio Readiness Group
14275.0 USB Bermuda and International HAM Radio
14300.0 USB Intercontinental Traffic
14303.0 USB International Assistance
14313.0 USB Intercontinental Traffic and Maritime
14316.0 USB Health and Welfare
14320.0 USB Health and Welfare
14325.0 USB Hurricane Watch – both amateur and official reorts
14340.0 USB Louisiana
21310.0 USB Health & Welfare in Spanish