The following guide is meant for the individual households or small groups looking to add emergency comms to their list of prep projects. This list is simple and arranged in the order that we feel is most logical and necessary. You’ll notice that our recommendations are very simple. This may go against the grain for a survivalist board but we follow the keep-it-simple rule around here. We hope that this article can be a help to those that are just beginning to explore the communications options.
#1) NOAA Emergency Radio equipped with Specific Area Messaging Encoder (S.A.M.E.). If you don’t have one of these, you should get one ASAP. Simply put, these radios could save your life by alerting your home or business when threatening weather or other hazard is occurring in your area. I’m sure you’ve heard of them but do you have one yet?
#2) A Battery Powered AM/FM radio. It’s easy enough to figure out why this would be needed. Even an MP3 player with an FM tuner would be good for this.
#3) Scanner Radio. Police/Fire scanners provide real-time information that can help you make decisions during emergencies. Some agencies have converted to digital systems, most haven’t, so you must definitely be sure that the scanner you are purchasing will be usable in your area. Don’t take the scanner salesman’s word for it. Research on your own.
#4) Short-range Handheld 2-way Radios. Whether it’s GMRS, CB, or MURS, these 2 way radios will enable your family or group to stay in touch at short ranges. We prefer GMRS or CB since those radios are very popular, inexpensive and used everywhere. They should have a “scan” feature so they can monitor the channels for possible nearby activity. A CB, GMRS or MURS network could also be expanded to include larger areas.
#5) Portable Shortwave Radio. This is the last item in our list for basic equipment. It’s last because broadcast shortwave programming during an emergency leaves much to be desired. We often read other forums and blogs that recommend buying a shortwave radio but, in our opinion, you will probably never need one. Real-time information is difficult to find on shortwave frequencies, but….. some shortwave radios can be used to monitor the disaster Ham radio frequencies when conditions are right.