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natural disaster
radio radio
smart phones
emergencies
911
circumstances
stress
Ways To Stay In Contact During An Natural Disaster
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Ways to Stay In Contact During An Natural Disaster

Being able to keep in contact with your family and those you care about during a disaster is vital. Having the ability to let them know you are safe, or being able to check they are safe can reduce the stress you'll be under when things are falling apart around you.

So what are your options? I'll cover these in a bit more detail later, but briefly they are:

  • Home phone
  • Cellphone
  • Radio
  • Pre-made plans

Home phone

Having a home phone is great, but they cannot be relied on during a natural disaster. They are better suited to "normal" emergencies when you have to ring 911.

It's best if you use a standard hardwired phone as cordless phones require that your own power is working. During a power cut they are useless, but fortunately hardwired phones work during power cuts and the phone companies have battery backup available. If you don't already have one then I'd suggest that you buy a hardwired phone as they cost less than $10 and could prove incredibly useful.

Cellphone

Again, cellphones cannot be relied on during emergencies. This is due to the cellphone towers only being able to handle a finite number of calls at the same time. During a disaster a lot of people will be using their cellphones to call for help, which could clog up the network.

However, cellphones and more particularly "smart-phones" can still be a great asset during an emergency. If you have Twitter or Facebook installed there is a chance that messages will still get through even though the voice service no longer works.

Radio

Radio communications are your best form of contact during a natural disaster, and there are a number of different options which I'll cover briefly.

FRS / GMRS

You could opt for the FRS / GMRS radios which are cheap and offer fairly good short-range communications. The difference between FRS and GMRS is that FRS uses a lower power output, which means under normal circumstances you won't be able to keep in contact beyond 1 to 2 miles.

GMRS on the other hand has a higher power output so your range increases (manufactures claim up to 30 miles, however these ranges are under ideal circumstances). Be aware that to transmit with GMRS you'll require a license, the details of which can be found on the FCCs website (as I write this it costs $80 for 5 years use).

Either FRS or GMRS are good options and for most people they are exactly what you'd need. I'd recommend that everybody in your family have them and know how to use them.

CB

The second option is using CB radio. This is more specialized than FRS / GMRS and takes more time to setup, however it is a useful tool.

Under normal conditions you'll get around a 15 mile coverage in all directions, which is not bad.

You don't need to buy a license to operate a CB.

HAM Radio

The last option for disaster communications is amateur radio (also known as HAM). This is the most specialized of all the options, however when the equipment is configured correctly you can literally communication with other radio HAMs all over the world!

To use a HAM radio you need to pass a number of exams and pay a license fee. These exams are not easy and will take quite a lot of studying in order to complete them.

For most people this option is beyond what they need, however it is the best option.

Pre-made plans

If you've not got a survival checklist that you've discussed with your family then a suggest that you do this straight away. You need to make sure they know what to do and where to meet should a disaster happen. Just make sure your meeting point is easy to get to and won't be affected by whatever is going on.


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