Communication is a vital component of overall preparedness. There are a couple of elements involved. First, you need to have a means of receiving news from the world around you. Second, you need to be able to communicate with your family and retreat group. This week, we’ll concentrate on the first element and at some point down the road we’ll tackle the second one.
We live in a day of instant communication. We routinely receive news from around the world in little more than a heartbeat. As little as thirty years ago, if I wanted to send a message to a friend in the UK, my choices were a very expensive phone call or a letter that could take a week to arrive. Today, I can send an email and receive a response in a matter of minutes. I could also log in to a chat room and enjoy instantaneous communication.
We tend to take such things for granted. In these uncertain times, that instant communication could come to a screeching halt for any number of reasons. We may not have the Internet to provide us with news from around the country or even in our own towns. We may not even have local TV broadcasts.
Fortunately, there are some options available to us. First, invest in a decent quality crank radio. These are the types of portable radios that can be powered by simply turning a crank for a few minutes. Often, they come with lights, sirens, and other doodads. The critical thing is the radio. Make sure the one you get can receive AM/FM as well as shortwave and NOAA weather broadcasts. Play around with it for a while so you fully understand how to tune in stations of interest to you. Even in the most dire of situations in recent history, there were always radio broadcasts to listen to and gather information. These vital pieces of equipment have really come down in price the last few years and can be found at most retailers, such as Walmart and Target.
Another piece of tech that is very handy is a police scanner. Decent ones are a bit pricier than the crank radios but you can sometimes find them used if you hunt around a bit. You’ll need to program the scanner to receive the radio traffic in your area but this is a pretty simple procedure. These scanners allow you to listen in on the radio chatter between police officers, rescue squads, fire departments, and all manner of other emergency response agencies. Doing so can give you a heads up as to what is going on locally. Obviously, these run on electricity so invest in a battery pack for those times when the power goes out. If this is something that interests you, I’d highly encourage you to visit with a knowledgeable person in your area to ensure you get the right equipment. While your mileage may vary, I’ve often had great experiences dealing with the folks at my local Radio Shack.
Now, both of those items will do you well with keeping up with events around you, but the communication is only one way. You’re only receiving the news and have no way of asking for further information. To take that next step, you’ll want to invest in a ham radio set up and license. I’m still learning about ham radios but plan to get my license very soon. In talking to some folks at a local ham radio club, I’m told you can get a basic used set up for under $100, though obviously higher quality carries a higher price tag. Ham radio allows you to truly communicate with folks from around the world. Often, these enthusiasts play a vital role with emergency communications during disasters and recovery efforts. I highly encourage preppers to seriously consider getting a ham license and picking up used equipment to play around with now and use for real later on as needs warrant.
Your assignments this week:
1) Begin shopping around for basic communication equipment, including a crank radio and/or police scanner. Hit up your local Craigslist and Freecycle groups.
2) Look into the process for obtaining a ham radio license.
3) Have you picked up some of the necessary supplies for improvised toilets? If not, do so this week if at all possible.