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Ways to stay connected during and after an emergency

It is absolutely imperative to have communications as an integral part of your emergency preparedness plans. With communication devices, it is possible to keep abreast with developments as they occur and maintain contact with friends and family during a crisis situation. In addition, communication devices give us a means of assessing how bad the aftermath of disaster/emergency actually is. Furthermore, because we should not believe outright what government mouth pieces spew, communication devices can serve to inform us about actual ground facts. There are several type of communication devices you should consider to include in your emergency supplies: Phones, radios, cellular phones, and the internet.

Communication Devices


A generic battery-operated AM/FM radio will give you the opportunity to follow emergency broadcasts and the local news. In addition, there are a few radio models in the market that utilize a hand-crank for power. Solar cells are often included with these types of radios. It is an advantage to have radios that use solar cells for operation during the day and to recharge the batteries for the night use. You should store both standard and rechargeable batteries for this device.

Radio Receiver

If you are interested to know what is happening beyond your country's borders, and pick up on others' interpretations and views of current world events, you should have a general coverage radio receiver. These radio receivers are capable of receiving shortwave radio frequencies, which range up to 30 mHz.

With these types of receivers you instantly gain access to more than eighty countries and thousands of shortwave broadcasts from around the globe, a majority being in English. Receivers with digital displays are the preferred choice as they make locating the desired frequencies much easier. The only drawback to these receivers is that they powered with electricity, and we all know that there are certain types of emergencies we can find ourselves in which electricity is not available. However, prepers who are off the grid should not have any problems power radio receivers.

The most important component of the radio receiver is the antenna. Antennas situated outside the house work better than the antennas that are built into portable radios, which may not be able to adequately pick up the shortwave radio signals. One way to work around this problem is to assemble an outdoor Sloper shortwave antenna, which offers full coverage on shortwave and AM. There are plenty of sources on the internet that outline ways of designing and building various sorts of outdoor antennas, just search for terms “outdoor shortwave antenna.”

Radio Scanner

Using a radio scanner you can listen to emergency responders' radio transmissions. A scanner is a radio receiver that can tune, or scan, two or more different frequencies, stopping when it finds a signal on one of them and then resuming to scan other frequencies when the first transmission stops. The terms radio scanner or police scanner generally refer to a communications receiver that is primarily intended for monitoring VHF and UHF landmobile radio systems.

Weather Radio

A weather radio service is a broadcast which airs special emergency weather-related broadcasts, weather reports and forecasts, advisories and warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS). Weather radio services may also air non-weather related emergency information, such as information about natural disasters or even terrorist attacks. The National Weather Services generally broadcasts in a specific VHF frequency range using FM. Normally, an appropriate weather radio receiver/scanners is required for listening. However, in some locations a weather radio broadcast may be retransmitted on a standard AM or FM frequency, television stations, on local cable channels or in the event of Emergency Alert System activations specifically for tornado warnings mainly on cable systems.

The NWS broadcasts 24/7 in the United States. It should be added that the reception quality of NWS signals can be poor in remote and mountainous regions. The cost for a hand-held weather radio can start at around twenty-five dollars, but be sure to get a model that can instantly turn on when a warning is issued while at the same time signalling an alarm. With a weather emergency radio you will get more accurate weather information than is possible from the weather pundits on the radio and TV. As a final reminder, weather radios also issue non-weather related warnings, so it is smart to have one around.

CB Radio

Citizens' band radios are the most widespread two-way radios, which use a system of short-distance radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27-MHz (11 m) band. In numerous countries, CB does not require a license, and it may be used for business as well as personal communications. Like many other two-way radio services, Citizens' Band channels are used by a myriad number of users. One station may only transmit at a time, while other stations must listen and wait for the shared channel to be available.

The CB radio is indispensable for learning about road and traffic problems in addition to host of other problems out there. It can also serve as an alternative to the telephone system should other means of communication fail.

Amateur Radio

Amateur radio (ham radio) is both a hobby and a service in which participants, called "hams", use different types of radio communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for a host of public services purposes and personal reasons. Ham radio equipment is available in hand-held, mobile and base units. To operate an amateur radio legally requires a license given by an appropriate government entity. There an estimated two million people around the world who are involved with amateur radio in one form or another. The word "amateur" does not suggest a lack of skill, but rather that amateur radio aficionados are not official representatives of governmental agencies or commercial entities.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are as prevalent as ears – it can be safe to say that almost anyone who has at least one ear, owns a cellphone. These devices can be extremely useful during crises. However, one major drawback is that cell phone towers become overloaded during a crisis, especially in the first moments following an widespread emergency situation. It almost becomes impossible to get a connection. Satellite phones are immune to such drawbacks, but they come at a hefty price. Nonetheless, having a cellphone around in any conceivable dangerous situation may save your life as you will have the capacity to summon help. Let us imagine for one moment that you are alive and under the rubble of a house that has just collapsed in an earthquake and you have a working cell phone on you. Don't you feel a little lucky?

The Internet

We all know what the internet is, at least those of us in the developed and much of the developing world.

Although the internet is not a communication device, it is what all devices nowadays connect to communicate with millions of other devices. The internet is the primary medium of communication on the planet. If you have a message to get out of communicate with someone, you will most likely use the internet to either end. It was designed by the Pentagon to provide secure communications between military networks after a possible nuclear attack. However, accessing the internet during and after an emergency for an average person may be problematic. Depending on the nature and severity of the emergency and your level of preparedness, internet access may be unavailable to you as either landlines, fiber optic cables, or cellphone towers maybe damaged. An internet connection via a satellite phone is your best bet against losing access to the internet, and as mentioned above, they are expensive.


Having different channels of communication is vital for survival during any emergency. Regardless of which communication devices you wish to invest in and own, always make sure that you have some redundancy and they are always in working order. You should also teach other family members how to operate these devices, and have regular drills in using them.


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