Urban Survival – Communications Following a Disaster

Following either a man made or natural disaster, normal methods of communication are frequently damaged, or clogged with calls. Preparing in advance can lessen the stress of the situation and improve your chance of survival. Remember these points.

o Cordless phones require household electricity to work.
o Old, rotary or push button phones may still work even if you have lost electricity to your home. I recently purchased one of these phones in a thrift store for $ 5.00.
o Cellular phones may still work when land lines are down.
o It is often easier to phone out of a disaster area than into it. Having a family contact outside your area is important.

Before a disaster strikes it is important for all family members to agree on several area bulletin boards where you can leave written messages. These can usually be found in grocery stores, public libraries and other public places. It is important to choose more than one site because there is a possibility that one or more of the buildings will not survive a disaster. It is also important to assign a family meeting place near a landmark that will not be destroyed during a disaster. Mail boxes, street signs and corner telephone poles may not survive. Following an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, or a hurricane, the familiar landscape may be changed so much that it is unrerecognizable. Choose a solid landmark that will not be swept away by flood, fire, or wind.

Communications will be important to your family even if it is one way communication. A portable radio is invaluable following a disaster. Try to find one that operates on both batteries and hand crank power. Many units are available that incorporates a flashlight and a cell phone charger into the design. Pay attention to which bands the radio receives. AM / FM / TV audio is probably the best choice. In a national emergency, shortwave is a good bet.

Hand held walkie talkie radios are another good choice. Radios are available that have a range of multiple miles and include NOAA weather alerts and local emergency broadcast channels. If family members have to separate for any reason following a disaster, you will be glad that you made this investment.

Another, often overlooked transmitter / receiver is a citizens Band radio. Get a mobile unit that runs on 12 volt DC power, not a 110 Volt base unit. With a compact antenna this radio will operate on any car battery and may use the same channels as your walkie talkies. This can extend the range of your communications. I have even used a CB radio hooked to two 6 volt dry cell batteries during a winter snow emergency during the 1970s. The batteries lasted more than eight hours.

Be sure that every member of your family is familiar with the operation of all communication devices before a disaster strikes and remembering to check batteries periodically when storing this equipment.

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