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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Communications


Quickstart:

Have all your family members memorize key phone numbers. Mom and Dad's cell phone and work numbers. Parents, this includes you, too. Memorize the kids school's and the children's cell phone numbers.

If you can't memorize the numbers, then make a business card-sized list of important numbers for each family member to carry.

Blog Post:

Communication, it allows us to exchange information. Stop it, and we know nothing about each other and the outside world.

To communicate during an emergency, you will need to plan.

The first part of the plan is to look at your threat analysis. What are you planning to survive? Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes/extreme weather, civil unrest, financial depression/hyperinflation, EMP attack and/or nuclear war. Each of these emergencies will determine what you will need to do.

Let us start with the simple solutions.

First, buy a weather radio. A weather radio will automatically notify you of flood, high winds, storms, tornadoes, and other extreme weather. They range in price from $20 to $200 depending on their features. For outdoor folks, there are portable weather radio models available.

If you can afford it, I suggest buying a radio with the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) and battery backup. The SAME feature allows you to program the radio to sound the alert only for the counties you want to know about.

Some organizations suggest purchasing a battery-powered portable radio. This is a good idea. A portable radio will allow you to receive updates on emergencies and other information The radio will also allow you to take it with you if you have to shelter-in-place, evacuate, or listen to the ball game.

This last one is important. You need to listen to your radio, now. This allows you to find the stations that will offer information about your area, find stations that have good reception, and you get to know your radio.

These two radios, some portable radios have weather alert, are all you need for natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other extreme weather. These two radios will also provide information about other disasters.

If you live in the United States, forget about buying a radio with the TV audio band 2-13. (TV audio bands allow you to listen to the television stations) The new digital television conversion will stop television stations from broadcasting on those radio stations.

But we know that local and national media doesn't have the time, money, and/or desire to provide all of the information we might need. This is where shortwave radio comes into play.
Shortwave radio has been a popular method of receiving information for many years. You have to be careful though; some shortwave broadcasts are propaganda.

A radio designed for shortwave listening will cost from $100 to $500. Before you buy make sure you shop around. I have heard Radio Shack has shortwave radios, made by famous names, for less then the famous maker.

Now don't confuse shortwave radios with transceivers. Shortwave transceivers allow you to transmit and receive messages. These transceivers require a licence. In the United States and various other countries, there are different classes of licences. The American Radio Relay League is the source for information if you want to obtain a licence to broadcast on shortwave radio in the United States.

Now, there are other radios that you can use to communicate with your family and/or friends. These radios are called Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios. They have a range of about 1/2 to 5 miles. The FRS radio does not require a licence; to use a GMRS radio, you will need to purchase a licence.

FRS and GMRS radios can be found in your local discount store and consumer-electronics stores. When buying, look for radios that use AA batteries.

Another popular radio is CB (Citizens' Band). CB radios do not require a licence. These radios have a range of 1 to 5 miles. As far as I know, CB radios require a car-type battery to operate.

The next type of radio is the MURS radios. Multi Use Radio Service (MURS) radios require no licence. According to one source, they are the best radio for local communications.

All of these radios are good; however, you need to make sure you know how to use them and they work. Nothing is more embarrassing then opening the package and the radio failing to work.

Now, radios are pretty good, but they don't have the convenience of cell phones. Heck, my cell phone can call Tokyo, Baghdad, Paris, New York City, and many other places (for a small fee), but an emergency may block local calls from going through.

To overcome this problem, your family designates an out-of-state contact. An out-of-state contact allows you to bypass local problems. It seem that local and long-distance phone calls are handled on different lines.

An out-of-state contact is someone everyone in the family will call. This person gets information about how the individual family members are doing. The contact gets information such as location, plans, and any problems. The contact can update family members as needed.

Another cool feature of cell phones is the ability to enter phone numbers and contact information. You have probably heard of ICE numbers. ICE stands for In Case of an Emergency.

In the cell phone's contact list, ICE is entered and the number of the person to contact in case of an emergency is entered. If an emergency responder finds the phone, and you have been in an accident, they can immediately contact that person.

See you next week!

Links:


NOAA Weather Radio - SAME Info
http://www.weather.gov/nwr/nwrsame.htm


American Red Cross - Personal Workplace Disaster Supplies Kit
http://www.redcross.org/static/file_cont118_lang0_61.pdf

What You Should Know Before Buying a Radio with the TV Band
http://www.ccrane.com/tv-alert.aspx

An Introduction to Shortwave Listening
http://www.odxa.on.ca/beginnersguide/swintro.html



Wikipedia - International Broadcasting
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_broadcasting

Selecting a Shortwave Radio
http://www.dxing.com/swrx.htm


Wikipedia - American Radio Relay League
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Radio_Relay_League



General Mobile Radio Service
http://www.gmrs.org/gmrs_information.htm





Federal Communications Commission - Citizens' Band Radio
http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home&id=cb

Federal Communications Commision - Multi Use Radio Service
http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home&id=multi_use