The Different Emergency Radio Options
In an emergency, you’ll want to make sure your family and friends are OK and let them know that you are safe. A family communication plan is essential in an emergency.
Before a Disaster
Out of Town Contact. Your family should pick a friend or extended family member who lives out of the state to contact. This out-of-state contact can pass along information and keep track of everyone to know that they are safe. It will be a lot easier for them to coordinate instead of the people who are in the disaster.
Make sure that this out of town contact’s information is written down inside of your 72-hour kits and that you have copies in helpful places like a child’s backpack or your wallet.
Meeting Place. Talk to your family before an emergency to determine a meeting place. There is a large chance that a disaster could occur while you are at work or your children are at school. Prepare accordingly by determining where you will meet in that situation.
Storing Emergency Communication Devices
Depending what device you have, the storage of the device may vary. For example, many walkie-talkies require that the batteries be taken out of the device if you’re going to store it for a long period of time. You should also store these devices in a water-proof or fire-proof container.
Depending on what device you have, you might need to plan on a power source for your communication device. Whenever possible, purchase something that doesn’t require batteries – something like a dynamo crank radio. If your device is something bigger like a Ham radio, you might invest in a solar-paneled power source.
If you do invest in a device that requires batteries, make sure that you have a way to recharge the batteries with a solar paneled battery recharger or some other device.
There are a lot of apps and other options but BridgeHelp is a new smartphone app that was just released a few months ago. All you have to do is open the app and click that you “Need Help” or “I’m OK.” The app then sends a text to a list of your emergency contacts telling them whether you are in need of help or not. Text messages usually work better during a disaster so this might be a good way to go.
• Average Prices: $80 – 120
• Range: Usually 3-5 miles (line-of-sight). Some come with higher antennas that allow for 20 miles.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) devices are a series of walkie-talkie radios that are typically portable and small and have a range of 3-5 miles. In the United States, a license is required to operate a GMRS device. They are usually more expensive than the FRS devices.
|“550”||467.550||Ch. 15||Ch. 1|
|“575”||462.575||Ch. 16||Ch. 2|
|“600”||462.600||Ch. 17||Ch. 3|
|“625”||462.625||Ch. 18||Ch. 4|
|“650”||462.650||Ch. 19||Ch. 5||Not permitted near the
U.S. Canadian border.
|“675”||462.675||Ch. 20||Ch. 6||Suggested as the
nationwide emergency channel.
|“700”||462.700||Ch. 21||Ch. 7||Not permitted near the
U.S. Canadian border.
|“725”||462.725||Ch. 22||Ch. 8|
• Average Prices: $20 – $50
• Range: Usually less than 1 mile (line-of-sight).
Family Radio Service (GMRS) devices are series of walkie-talkie radios that are more common and available without a license. They are often used by businesses as their in-store communication system. (Think of someone paging a manager on their walkie-talkie at Wal-Mart.)
A FRS device usually has a filtering system to sift out unwanted sounds and chatter from other users on the same frequency (unlike the CB Radio). They aren’t very good at protecting conversations and usually interact with other devices like baby monitors, toys and cordless phones.
|1||462.5625||Shared with GMRS|
|2||462.5875||Shared with GMRS|
|3||462.6125||Shared with GMRS|
|4||462.6375||Shared with GMRS|
|5||462.6625||Shared with GMRS|
|6||462.6875||Shared with GMRS|
|7||462.7125||Shared with GMRS|
• Average Prices: $40 – $50
• Range: Usually 1-5 miles.
The Citizens’ Band (CB) Radio is a great option for short-distance radio communication. It doesn’t require a license and allows for more business and personal communication. Only one station can be talking at a time. This is the kind of device that is used by truckers and some police officers. CB Radios are not intended for international use because so many different countries use the frequencies differently. Below are the frequencies and channels listed in the United States:
• Average Prices: $100 – $300
• Range: Usually 20-60 miles
Despite its name, the Amateur radio (Ham radio) is not for anyone’s use. The system got its name from its use as a non-commercial and non-governmental use of communication.
One is required to obtain a license in order to operate a ham radio and sometimes the ham radios can be very expensive. Ham radios are great for communicating between long distances but there is a lot of red tape surrounding their use.
What do you use?
Comment below to tell us what you have in place for your emergency communication plan. Have any good advice? Share below? Or do you think we should carry a certain product? Let us know!