Reliable information during a disaster or escalating crisis is paramount to survival. People need to know the scope of the disaster. They need information.
Depending on the scope of the crisis, the communication systems we normally rely upon may become unusable. Home phones become overloaded or unusable in many disaster scenarios. Hurricanes and tornadoes (and other disasters) could cause power failures, and without alternative power sources, your methods for gathering information or communicating will be ‘dark’.
All modern means of communication require a power source. Anything here in America that ‘plugs in’ to the wall is dependent upon a steady flow of 120-volts of AC (Alternating Current). The situation is the same throughout the world, except the voltage varies in other countries.
Having said that, and for obvious reasons, it is not recommended that you rely on a television for information and updates of a disaster situation (or any other electronic communication device that ‘plugs in’ to the wall outlet). Disaster often brings down the local or regional power grid, resulting in zero volts available at your wall outlet.
Even though a TV connected to a satellite receiver or your local cable-provider box will bring you hundreds of channels, it will all be useless without power.
Every home should have a basic AM radio on hand that does not require this type of electricity to operate. AA battery powered radios are an obvious choice. First of all, AA batteries are the most common battery found today. Second, radios designed to run with this size battery are typically nice and portable. Third, you can choose to purchase re-chargeable AA batteries and a solar-powered battery charger to keep you ‘in the energy’, and your radio running indefinitely.
Additionally, there are portable radios that include ‘wind-up’ chargers built in to them. There are also radios that have built-in solar panels to keep things charged up.
Remember this though… beware of cheap radios. Although there are indeed some very good buys out there, be sure to look for brand names. If you want something to last, and something of higher quality, you will have to pay for it. That’s just how the world works. You can get away with cheap in some areas of life, but certainly not all.
If there is a major disaster, there WILL be near constant broadcast about it on AM radio, provided that any local stations are up and running – maybe with generator power or battery backup for awhile. Although much of the United States Civil Defense has been replaced since the Cold War by FEMA, during a widespread disaster, the ‘Emergency Alert System’ and civil defense affiliated stations are setup to broadcast survival information on the AM broadcast band. The common AM frequencies for Civil Defense were/are 640 and/or 1240 on the AM dial.
Store your radios in a faraday cage such as a metal drum with a tightly fitting lid (to protect from the effects of natural or man-made EMP).
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