By October 9, 2012 Read More →

Communications In An Emergency


Help them find you in an emergency

Communications is any emergency can play an important part in survival.  Communication does not always mean that you are talking to another person.  It can also be a radio that updates you on whether or what is happening during a natural disaster in your area.  In this article we will discuss different ways to communicate and how they can be useful.

Weather Radios:

Local radios will broadcast local weather and update you on the current weather conditions in your area.  They can let you know when and in what areas help will come.  Radio personalities can inform you where you can go for shelter, food and supplies, open stores, or closed roads.

When choosing a type or multiple types of communications you should consider the following;

  • It should be easy to operate and have good range.
  • Be able to operate off grid or if electrical lines are down.
  • Be protected against interference.

There are many different kinds of radios to choose from.  An emergency weather radio is designed to bring you emergency broadcasts.  Here are a few you can look into;


Telephones are usually the first thing we grab in an emergency.  Especially if we lose power.  The first person I call is the electric company.  So make sure and program them in your cell phone, because if you lose electricity you may not be able to look them up.  You should also have a phone book on hand in case your cell phone is dead or your land line doesn’t work.  People that have land lines often use cordless phones which require electricity. If you use a land line make sure and have an older phone on hand.

Store a car phone charger for cell phones too.  Your car can be used as a back up charger if the power is down.

Staying connected to those you love in an emergency can do a lot for your mood and help you get through it without worry.

CB Radios:

CB radios can be very affordable and you don’t need a license to have or operate one.  A general price range for a mobile mount is $50-$150, and up to $250 for a handheld portable AM/single band CB radio.  Mobile mounts can be used off of your car’s 12v electrical system or a small motorcycle battery.  Their range can be anywhere from 1-15 miles.

There can be some disadvantages to CB radios as well.  Transmission can leak into other electronic devices.  Antennas can be very large for home bases or vehicles.  Smaller antennas can be bought, but tend to drastically reduce the CB range.

Amateur Radio’s AKA Ham Radio’s:

These two-way radios are one of the most popular ways to communicate.  Their operators are known as Hams.  Amateur radios are also competitively priced, from $60 to several thousand dollars.  To use these radios in a Non-Emergency, one must be licensed by the FCC, by passing one or more written exams.  There is a cost, around $15, for processing the license through the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League).  The license is good for ten years, and can be renewed for a small fee, around $15.  There is also no age requirement.  As an Amateur Radio operator, one can use many frequencies and modes (AM, FM, SSB, packet (so you can send information using a computer), and many more.  Different licenses have different frequencies and modes available to the licensee.

HAM frequencies work much better than CB, Walkie Talkie, FRS, GMRS, and other commercial radio types.  With certain small HAM radios, it is easily possible to transmit around the world!   This can be critical, in winter when you need to know road conditions, or in a natural disaster.  For more information, contact a local HAM, or even the Amateur Radio Relay League (

Expect to pay $60-$300 for a typical radio.


Preparing for an emergency takes research and practice, but in the long run will save your life.  These are a few ways you can set up communications for your household.  Please feel free to leave your knowledge and experience in our comments section below.  Your experience with these different types of communications may help another person to prepare their emergency communications capabilities.

Keepin It Spicy,

Jalapeño Gal

Please feel free to visit my store: Jalapeño Gal’s Survival Surplus

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About the Author:

Cari is an editor and author for American Preppers Network. Her family currently live in Georgia. Cari spends her free time gardening, canning, testing products for review, helping others prepare and going to the gym. She believes preparedness is about love and taking care of your family. Cari also has her own website where she shares all of her preparedness articles and her recipes for canning, dehydrating, juicing, basic cooking. To have a look and hopefully follow her: Click Here! Please Join My New Blog!

13 Comments on "Communications In An Emergency"

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  1. Good article…I keep forgetting about that! Thanks for he reminder!

  2. Aaron Doane says:

    Little surprised. I clicked the link and when I saw the map realized that there was nobody anywhere near the New Orleans area.

  3. good informative article!

    • We recently held a “Bug-Out” excercise. We carried the 10 meter hand held Radio’s for Commuications. What we found out is that the 2 meter Radio was the best for short range communication. CB’s will also be good but require more power. To communicate longer distance one will need a Ham Radio. This requires a license to operate. In a shtf period, a license won’t matter. One must know what is going on around/near them in order to be prepared for whatever happens. It will also require teamwork, no one can survive for long alone…

  4. Glen Kippel says:

    Good article, with some caveats. Several years ago a couple of jets out of Edwards AFB let loose a couple of sonic booms over our valley and when I picked up the phone, it was dead. You get too many callers on at once, the phone system just can’t handle it. Same with cell phones. There is a limit to how many calls can be handled at once.Also, if your phone comes off a cable service instead of direct from the phone company, you need AC power to run the phone modem. If the power is out you will either need to use your phone or put a UPS (battery backup) to provide power for the modem. As to ham radio, the simplest and easiest way to get on the air is to get a handi-talkie (normally referred to as an “HT”) for the 144-MHz (2-meter) band or both the 144 and 440-MHz (70-cm.) bands. These typically run about 5 watts output into a “rubber-duckie” antenna, but can be connected to outboard amplifiers of up to 150 watts and/or external antennas to greatly extend the range. Also, most areas have repeaters that retransmit the signal over a wide area. Some are linked to other repeaters, so your little HT can cover a whole state. (You will need to purchase the ARRL Repeater Directory to know which repeaters are operating in your area or find out from your local ham radio club.) Some are also linked to the Internet via IRLP so that you can communicate with hams all over the world. Most of these HTs can also tune in the NOAA weather radio channels. As to radios to tune in AM/FM stations, be aware that in an emergency, many radio stations may be off the air or if they are on, they may be operating at reduced power. Combination radio/flashlights are junk. Get one with halfway decent sensitivity, like from Grundig/Eton or CCrane. If you can find an old GE Superadio, get that. They are good. `Also, a lot of radio stations nowadays are automated and/or fed by satellite, so they operate unattended and thus have nobody there to provide emergency information, especially in the middle of the night. Find out which stations in your area are staffed 24/7 and program them into your radio’s memory. Like the Boy Scout motto says — “Be Prepared”!

  5. 'Jesse Banke says:

    I picked up a Cobra hand held CB radio on ebay for $10, it takes 10 AA batteries and I have confirmed that it will transmit atleast 7 miles to a buddies house in the next town over. $10 bucks

  6. We got a ton of Articles devoted to Ham Radio & Communications on The APN Ham Radio Blog:

  7. I need to get a license. It’s on the TO DO list.

  8. Ken says:

    We forgot one of the most important forms of communication. Pre planning letting people know where and when to link up. Plan and practice is a part of communication. it also helps us look for communications cues. Those things like if this does not work we will try that next.
    The plan is an important part of communication.

  9. Fred Underwood says:

    In an emergency like Katrina we may find that communications will be all over the spectrum as people use whatever they have.Thats why its best to be a Ham Radio Operator as I am and use a couple of those new Chinese HTs hitting the market ie Wouxun, Baofeng, etc. and have them programmed to TX-RX on FRS-GMRS,MURS,and even Marine 156Mhz.Some of these radios are extremely widebanded rigs, rugged and versital. Mobile units already on the market.CB will play a role in Emergency Communications also but its use is diminishing.Most operations are on the so called “Freeband” 27.405-28.110 USB and 25.000-26.965 USB Pirate Mexico radio Stations here,some powerful as they use the new “So called freeband Export” CB radios on the market by “Galaxy” Ranger, Connex,Omegaforce”Some put out between 12 to 350 watts SSB watts mobile.There are many options for emergency communications out there.Stay Safe. N4DHN