With the revival of the hit movie “Ghostbusters” and the tag line “Who you gonna call?”, it prompted me to raise the question about communications in an emergency situation. There are many significant areas in which one should be prepared, with most people focusing on food, shelter and defense. But communications are equally important.
In a prior product feature, I wrote about the importance of having a hand cranked weather/emergency radio with which you can gather information from various sources around you. That sort of information could be very important to you and your family. Being left in the dark about news is an unsettling thing and foments panic. Listening to news reports is good, but how about communicating with friends and family across town?
I have purchased several hand-held radios for that purpose. I have three types: the basic “walkie-talkie” such as you can buy at any Walmart to be used within a hundred yards or so around the farm; a MURS radio which is a little stronger and less susceptible to interference yet okay to operate without a HAM radio license; and a hand held HAM radio. I have written a product review of this last radio: a Baofeng BF-F8HP. Its an inexpensive, yet very versatile and powerful two way communication device. I’ve tested it with friends and it will reach several miles away, even in our mountainous terrain. I have purchased several for our family that is scattered around the area as well as friends. In the event of a sudden grid down situation, we have established a protocol to follow which involves monitoring certain frequencies at certain times of the day so that we can each check in with one another. I encourage you to have such a plan as well.
One note though: the FCC is very serious about operating HAM radios without a license. Anyone is free to listen in using a HAM radio, but transmitting by using a repeater station is illegal. If however, in the event of an emergency wherein life and property are in imminent danger, unlicensed operators are allowed to transmit on a HAM radio. It is also allowable to use a HAM radio to talk directly to another HAM radio, but only unit to unit and not via a repeater tower. That is, I can talk on my Baofeng directly to my family across town on their Baofeng without a problem (at least that’s how I interpret the rules).
Check out the product review on the Baofeng here.