Monday, March 19, 2012

A Realistic Approach to Prepper Communications

Can't do Morse Code or key a Mic Button
All the hysteria over the economy failing, threat of impending wars, and massive natural disasters tossing us all into the dark ages, has everyone scrambling around wondering whats going on? This article isn't going to address any of that. Instead, what it will do is offer some perspective as to what you can do to insure you have the tools necessary to reach the outside world & communicate effectively in the event that normal means of communications are interrupted.

Follow the sun
First thing first: Power to Communicate
What typically halts normal communications is a loss of electricity. More likely a fallen tree limb on a power line than a zombie attack, when the lights goes out, so goes most of all what we take for granted. What you do to eliminate your vulnerability can run the gamut... from a household gas generator, a solar panel farm, steam engine generator, to ultimately total off-the-grid independence. Those who aim for the later no doubt reap the greatest long term benefit, but for your more common, more realistic short-term power outage, the smart money is in investing in a portable generator and a few gallons of gas.  Why focus on power than on comm gear? It's obvious, without power, all the fancy comm gear you could get would be pretty to look at, and not much useful otherwise. Power first, communicate second. While we're on the subject, did'ja know that most households already have a electrical generator? Usually parked in the driveway. With a DC/AC inverter, your car or truck can keep your radios, laptop, or your lighting well juiced in a pinch.

There are exceptions to the 1 week rule
Know Your Limits
While you may feel driven to prepare for forever, most disaster preparedness professionals favor a more practical bead on things. Historically, in situations causing interruptions in everyday life…floods, storms, earthquakes, etc, those who have prepared for one week under "Field" conditions cover 90% of all events. If you can prepare to live "off grid" for at least 1 week, you will have licked most of what has caused problems in the past. Do you want to prepare for longer? Absolutely. But realistically, it's smarter and more practical to aim small, miss small.

...and they want no anchovies...
Who ya gonna call?
Ok... your in a situation...say, after a big storm... Your land line phone is out, power is out, the Internet is out and your dog ate your cellphone… you want to order a take-out pizza, or contact someone and tell them "We're here!" So what's a well prepared prepper to do? If it's pizza, we can't offer much hope. But with contacting civil authorities or the outside world, it's a whole different matter. 
If you're a Ham Radio Operator, you already understand why CB radios & FMRS / GMRS radios & the like are severely limited in their scope. While great to get smokey reports from truckers, or a tramp through the woods, those class of radios are not well supported by civil authorities beyond limited tactical use. You may feel the need to talk to someone and ask for assistance, but can you really expect to find someone who is listening AND willing to render aid?  Your much better off using a 2 meter, 440 cm, or 220 meter radio set for contact with local civil agencies, and HF radio for longer range communications. For the most part, most civil disaster agencies have on contingency, equipment that monitor these radio bands, and there's often in place, UHF/VHF repeaters available that can be readily accessed. Most importantly, there is a well established infrastructure already in place that has time & again responded in these situations. A good example of HF being used is the Mobile Maritime Service Net on 14.300 Mhz., they have a long history of aiding ships at sea needing help with only HF radio capability, or the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net (SATERN), with their well known efforts to provide Health & Welfare Communications.

Know Your Needs, Your World, and Act Accordingly
In closing, before all else, know first your resources. What is already out there in your community that can set you on the most effective communications path? It's the low-hanging fruit. Without knowing who you want to communicate with, you simply can't plan wisely.  As important as your link to the outside world would be, checking first what is outside your door will make a huge difference in the direction you may want to take. Knowledge is power.    C-Ya on the radio… DE KI4HEE

1 comment:

rein couperus said...

Also take a look at, an open source project for free super long range wifi on HF -PA0R-

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