Week 4 of 52: Communications

We have all witnessed a “communications down” scenario when going through natural disasters.  One thing that all of these natural disasters have in common, besides the disruption of our daily lives, is that they are immediately followed by an almost total loss of the ability to communicate with the outside world.  Power is lost, telephone services are discontinued, and cell phone service is either non-existent or is so congested that no one can get through.  When experiencing these “communication down” situations we realize how vulnerable and dependent we are on the system that failed.

Having alternate communication devices on hand during a disaster can help maintain some sort of communication, as well as help maintain a sense of self reliance during difficult times.  Have at least one of the following alternative communication systems:  

  • Wind up radios
  • Emails (if there is a power source)
  • Amateur radios
  • Family radio services offered by the FCC
  • CB radios 

When making your choice, you should examine your own needs and match them with the appropriate communication system.

Here are some criteria for setting up an emergency communication system:

  • It should be easy to operate.
  • Have effective range.
  • Have a modest amount of protection against interference.
  • Be inexpensive (low initial cost, low maintenance cost and no monthly fees).
  • Be readily available.
  • Be able to operate “off the grid”.

Preps to buy:

  • Signal flares, flashing beacon or flashing emergency light. (I bought mine at a camping store.)
  • Compass for all members of the family over the age of 6.
  • Two-way radio.
  • Battery operated or wind-up hand radio, preferably an NOAA weather radio.

Action Items:

When a hurricane threatens an area, the city suggests families back up important documents e.g., personal ID, security card, I.D. cards for the kids, proof of residence, insurance information, medical records, bank and account information, and place the documentation in a waterproof container or reasonable plastic bag.   

Don’t forget to include documentation records for your pets, e.g., IDs, immunization records, and medications.  Having this information prepared and set aside will help save precious time when preparing a home for a disaster.

Prepper's Cookbook

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 20th, 2011
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  • Dale Cundy

    by far the vast majority of people do  not  know how to use a compass……   

    whats the point??   

    • Matt

      The point is magnetic north, that’s how to use a compass.

  • Janie Gentry

    It’s not that hard to learn the basics of using a compass.  There are books at the library, instructions online, or you could ask a Boy Scout to teach you.

    I have a neighbor who has been a hiker for many years and he is willing to help anyone who needs assistance with orienteering.  I’m sure there are people like him in lots of locations who are willing to teach. 

  • Teri Goodwin

    If you should have to leave your familiar surroundings you will need the compass to insure you are heading in the right direction and not towards danger or in a large circle. 

    • Cardinal Direction

      Yes, most folks can’t take a compass and map and navigate 20 clicks to within a 10 meter point…but the compass can keep them honest by just using basic cardinal direction.  You don’t need to know magnetic north vs grid north…just know which way is north as the bird flies…
      Don’t forget HAM gear for two way comm or satellite phones (expensive) but not dependent upon the grid..

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