The phone network is down and the internet is inaccessible. 911 is overloaded. Power is out. How do you communicate when all else fails? Ham radio. We break it down in this one page beginner’s guide.
As seen in recent disasters, you simply cannot rely on mobile phones or the internet to communicate because of their dependency on the electrical and data grid.
FEMA and the Red Cross frequently rely on local Hams for spreading key info. After the devastating hurricanes of 2017, Ham radio operators in Puerto Rico sprung to action after Hurricane Maria knocked out the island’s communication, establishing crucial contact with rescue agencies.
You can think of countless situations where communication could make the difference between life and death on an individual level, too. What if SHTF when someone in your family is 10 miles away at work? Or you have a medical emergency while camping?
But the trucker-cliche CB and “toy” versions of radio, like the common and cheap walkie-talkies anyone can buy and use, aren’t very useful in survival scenarios.
Amateur radio — also known as Ham radio — is the best overall way for preppers to keep in contact during an emergency.
Ham radio seems like a complicated, technical, and expensive hobby. Some of that impression is justified because the ham community has not done a good job of making things easy for people who want to get started and keep things simple. There’s too much technical jargon and arguments over little but complicated things that don’t matter to 99% of preppers.
Ham has been around for over 100 years, with 750,000 licensed operators in the US and six million around the world. It’s also the top choice for many preppers because of advantages in range, flexibility, community, and equipment compared to other options like CB and FRS.
You need a license from the FCC. But with recent changes (like dropping the Morse code requirement), you can easily prepare for the test in just a few days using free online resources. The test is usually only $10-15. Combined with the advent of affordable and easy-ish to use Ham radios, it’s become much more practical to incorporate Amateur radio as part of your emergency preparedness.
AERO Amateur Radio Club is an ARRL Accredited Volunteer Examiner Testing group
See our VE Testing web page for Dates and more info http://www.w3pga.org/vetest.html
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This page is maintained by Jerry N3VBJ (C) 2018 W3PGA
Last updated Decmeber 2017
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