Communications in a SHTF Scenario

SHTF Survivalist Radio Lists

 by Rebecca

 

From monkeys in the Amazon Rainforest, to dolphins in the Caribbean, to ants under your picnic table, all species rely on communication with each other for survival. Humans are no different – we rely on communication to both warn and inform us, especially in times of crisis.

In our modern times, the possibility of being unable to easily and quickly communicate with your loved ones or receive vital information from trusted sources is hard to imagine. But in SHTF scenarios, one of the first systems to fail is modern communications. Regardless of the emergency—hurricane, solar flare, nuclear attack, or EMP, to name a few—communications with others will become extremely difficult, if not impossible. Without telephone, text, email, internet, or television, many people will be completely shut off from the outside world at a time when the sharing and receiving of information has never been more important.

Related: How To Make A Tin Can Directional WiFi Antenna to Extend your Communication after an EMP

Just a few examples of the ways you rely on modern forms of communication in emergency situations include:

  • Receiving alerts via text of natural disasters and dangerous weather (for this particular case it is always adviced to learn the lost art of reading nature’s signs);
  • Checking your favorite news app regularly for signs of SHTF;
  • Calling your family to let them know your spouse has to be taken to the emergency room;
  • Listening to the radio for traffic updates, including road closings and delays;
  • Emailing your boss to let them know that you have a flat tire and are going to be late to work.

When our communication is cut off, three things happen immediately:

  1. We lose our ability to send information;
  2. We lose our ability to get information; and
  3. People get scared.

If you are concerned that a SHTF situation, whether natural or man-made, could cut you and your family off from vital information you need to survive, take heart – by using a simple communication device, your family can continue communication with each other and with important sources of help, such as the Red Cross or your local emergency shelter.

To prepare your family for communicating in an emergency, you have several options of communications devices. From devices that just transmit (such as shortwave radio) to devices that will allow full two-way communication with other parties (such as amateur ham radio), each type of device will allow you to stay as up-to-date as possible on emergency situations in your area thanks to special frequencies that broadcast vital information you can use to survive.

Related: How To Tell When People Are Lying to You (in a crisis)

Before we get started on the main types of frequencies used in SHTF communication, it is important to point out that in order to pick up any broadcast, you need a reliable device that you are able to keep charged. Devices with multiple charging options, such as solar-power and hand-crank, provide better insurance against a disaster preventing you from charging your device, while having multiple devices ensure that you will backups in case your main source of communication isn’t functioning.

The main types of frequencies used in SHTF communication:

  1. AM/FM (one-way radio)
  2. SW (shortwave, pre-recorded broadcasts that are listen-only)
  3. NOAA (weather broadcasts, listen-only)
  4. VHF/UHF (amateur ham radio)
  5. FRS (two-way radio, can be used by anyone)
  6. GMRS (two-way radio, requires a license)
  7. MURS (handheld radio or stationary unit)

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages for each. For example, NOAA frequencies are your best bet for hearing notifications of a hurricane in your area; however, should you need emergency assistance because of the hurricane, you can’t use the frequency to call for help. Some devices have frequencies that are available to everyone, while others require a special license in order to broadcast. Prices of devices range widely, as does the level of expertise needed to operate each device. You can choose the device that is right for your family by considering what your communication needs are, your proficiency with each type, whether you will be able to obtain the proper license to broadcast with certain devices, and the budget you are able to spend.

Regardless of the type of device you choose, there are frequencies available for each that will help your family survive emergency situations. To find out which frequencies you should use on three of the most popular prepper communication devices, see our handy reference list below!

NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is a government-operated radio system for sending out warnings in the event of a hurricane, solar flare, nuclear attack, and other emergencies. Broadcasts are local and repeated approximately every 5 minutes around-the-clock. You can purchase a special NOAA-enabled radio that is pre-set to the appropriate frequencies and will alert you of emergencies whenever the radio is turned on.

NOAA broadcasts can be heard on the following frequencies:

  • 162.40 MHz
  • 162.425 MHz
  • 162.45 MHz
  • 162.475 MHz
  • 162.50 MHz
  • 162.525 MHz
  • 162.55 MHz
  • 163.275 MHz

Emergency radio frequencies

  • 34.90 & 163.4875: National Guard
  • 39.46: Inter-department emergency communications by local and state police forces
  • 47.42: Red Cross
  • 121.50: International aeronautical emergency
  • 138.225: FEMA Disaster Relief Operations
  • 142
  • 154.28: Local fire departments inter-departmental communications
  • 155.160: Inter-departmental state and local communications during search and rescue
  • 155.475: Inter-departmental emergency communications for state and local police
  • 156.75: Maritime weather alerts
  • 156.80: Maritime distress, calling, and safety
  • 163.5125: National Disaster Preparedness (Armed Forces)
  • 164.50: Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • 168.55: Disaster and emergency channel for civilian agencies of the federal government
  • 243.00: Military aviation emergency
  • 311.00 & 319.40: U.S. Air Force
  • 317.70 & 317.80: U.S. Coast Guard (Aviation)
  • 340.20: U.S. Navy (Aviation)
  • 409.625: Department of State
  • 462.675: General Mobile Radio Service (emergency assistance and traveler assistance)

Amateur Radio Allocations Apr 2017

Technician Class Frequency Privileges In Ham Radio

Band Frequencies (In MHz) Modes You Can Use
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW
40 meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW
15 meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW
10 meters 28.000 – 28.30028.300 – 28.500 CW, RTTY/data, 200 watts PEP maximum powerCW, phone, 200 watts PEP maximum power
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; PEP = peak envelope power; RTTY = radioteletype.

General Class Frequency Privileges In Ham Radio

Band Frequencies (in MHz) Mode
160, 60, 30 meters All amateur privileges
80 meters 3.525 – 3.6003.800 – 4.000 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
40 meters 7.025 – 7.1257.175 – 7.300 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
20 meters 14.025 – 14.15014.225 – 14.350 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
15 meters 21.025 – 21.20021.275 – 21.450 CW, RTTY, dataCW, phone, image
17, 12, 10 meters All amateur privileges
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; RTTY = radioteletype.

Common Ham Radio Q Signals

Q Signal Meaning
QRL Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRM Abbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRN Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
static.
QRO Shall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRP Shall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQ Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRS Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRT Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRU Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRV Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRX Stand by.
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSB Abbreviation for signal fading.
QSL Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSO Abbreviation for a contact.
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all
amateurs.
QSX I am listening on ___ kHz.
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___
kHz).
QTH What is your location?
My location is ____.

 

Common Ham Radio Repeater Channel Spacings And Offsets

Band Output Frequencies of Each Group (In MHz) Offset from Output to Input Frequency
6 meters 51.62 – 51.9852.5 – 52.98

53.5 – 53.98

– 500 kHz
2 meters (a mix of 20 kHz and 15 kHz channel spacing) 145.2 – 145.5146.61 – 146.97

147.00 – 147.39

– 600 kHz– 600 kHz

+ 600 kHz

222 MHz or 1-1/4 meters 223.85 – 224.98 – 1.6 MHz
440 MHz or 70 cm (local options determine whether inputs are
above or below outputs)
442 – 445 (California repeaters start at 440 MHz)447 – 450 + 5 MHz– 5 MHz
1296 MHz or 23 cm 1282 – 12881290 – 1294 – 12 MHz

CB frequencies

Citizen’s band radio is any easy way for anyone to communicate in an emergency without a license. Standard channels range from 1 – 40, with additional channels being available with freeband operation. Some helpful frequencies to monitor include:

  • Channel 3: Prepper CB Network
  • Channel 4: The American Preppers Network
  • Channel 9: reserved specifically for emergency communications/ REACT channel
  • Channel 19: the channel most widely used by truckers across the country

Emergency communication tips

Whether you choose to monitor NOAA broadcasts or utilize CB and/or ham radio frequencies, there are a few tips that can help you communicate most effectively in an emergency:

  • Have an emergency communication plan in place
  • Don’t limit yourself to only one type of communication: having multiple devices can save your life!
  • If speaking to emergency services, speak slowly and clearly and be able to provide details of your emergency, such as the number of people needing assistance, your location, and any life-threatening injuries
  • In a bug-out situation, the noise of your device may give your location away to others: make sure you are in a safe location before tuning in!

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