April 21, 2012

Prepper Essentials: Communication and Information

One of the top 10 most important assets to have during a crisis is communication and the information that can be acquired through communication.  Communication can make the difference between life and death in some situations.  It is easy to recognize the high level needs for communication:
  • Communicate with your family and friends
  • Coordinate with people that can help you
  • Acquire information about what is happening in your immediate area
  • Acquire information about what is happening nationally
  • Obtain information from alternative sources (not just the official channels)
We are entirely too dependent on infrastructure and services in our daily life and take continuity for granted.  Each new disaster demonstrates that "essential" infrastructure and services are surprisingly fragile and go down when we seem to need them most.
  • Mobile phones
  • Internet
  • Electrical grid
  • Natural gas
  • Public water
  • Sewage treatment
  • Public transportation
  • Fire
  • Police
  • Local broadcasting (TV and radio)
Being well-prepared for a disaster means having the ability to live independent from infrastructure and public services.  When it comes to communication and information, shortwave radio and amateur radio can provide people with capabilities without reliance on complex and fragile infrastructure.

Emergency communications antenna

At a minimum, every prepper needs to own at least one shortwave radio.  A shortwave radio provides access to information outside of your immediate area including broadcasts originating outside the country.  Many people consider having alternative to official Government information source to be very valuable in some scenarios.  Most shortwave radios also allow reception of the local AM broadcast band which can be extremely valuable (when still operating) during a disaster (evacution routes, traffic conditions, shelter locations, ...).

Here are some minimum features to look for:
  • Battery operated and portable
  • Receives the AM broadcast band
  • Receives the HF frequency range (1.8 Mhz through 30 Mhz)
  • Supports AM, LSB, and USB modes
  • Can be connected to an external antenna
A shortwave radio is a great investment and one you will want in advance of a disaster.  Local stocks of shortwave radios will certainly be cleaned out very quickly when real disaster strikes.  A shortwave radio isn't a difficult device to operate; however, it is something you must use and familiarize yourself with before you needed it.  There are some excellent resources on the Internet to help you locate stations and frequencies to listen to.

Remember, a failure to plan is planning to fail.

Happy listening.

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