Do You Know What Your SHTF Communication Options Are?
Preparing for SHTF means more than just stockpiling food. It’s more than just storing water. It also includes good SHTF communications. Being able to send and receive critical news and knowledge about what’s going.
Even if you are literally “in the dark” it doesn’t mean your SHTF communications have to be.
Having a guaranteed way of communicating with others in the worst of times is an essential prepper responsibility.
However, there is not just one single method for SHTF communications. There are actually several options to consider.
Some better than others so let’s get started.
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Let’s Start With Cell Phones
Almost everybody today has a cell phone that can make calls and send text messages. And they are the best option for limited event emergencies.
If you get in a car wreck, a cell phone works quickly to call for help. If someone is having a heart attack a cell phone can get medical professionals notified immediately.
Yet, they are just about the worst option for anything larger in scope. Anybody who has been in a mass disaster situation can attest to the frustration of trying to make a cell phone call. They probably discovered that the network they are so used to using is completely overloaded and jammed. No outgoing calls, no incoming calls. Nothing.
Even at non-emergency events, such as popular at college football games, you’ll notice jammed cell phone networks locally. This is especially true since nearly all college-aged adults are heavy users of cell phones, these types of cell phone network jam. And with the proliferation of smartphones, these local network jam ups are likely to get worse and more frequent in the future.
A network jam is a common problem and is the cell phone’s Achilles heel. Making it the absolute worst communication option for SHTF. Hell, even smoke signals will be more reliable than cell phones when SHTF.
The one saving grace for cell phones is the text messaging option. When a mass emergency occurs and cell towers are jammed, try using text. The use of text messaging has proven to be slightly less affected by an emergency situation.
During Hurricane Katrina, text messaging (while not instant) did continue to get through. So hey, it’s worth a shot.
And with cell phones in rural areas of our country, you have to deal with weak cell phone signals. Sure, you can get a cell phone signal booster but those only work if there’s a signal to boost – not a guarantee in a widespread emergency.
So never make a cell phone your only survival communications option.
What about Hand Held Walkie Talkies?
Walkie-talkies, also known as GMRS/FRS radios, are great for short range SHTF communications. They work best for a small individual group like your survival coalition. They don’t work for mass communication or long-range communications.
It’s an ideal option for a family wanting to stay in contact as they move around a small property or local area. Just be aware, depending on the model and manufacturer you’ll get different ranges. So make sure you test their range before you need them so you understand your walkie-talkies range limitations.
Most specified ranges are for flat open land areas. Trees, hills, and buildings tend to diminish the overall range. So just keep this in mind if you choose walkie talkies as your local SHTF communication device.
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Is Ham Radio Good For SHTF Communications?
Ham radio was one of the most popular communication devices over large distances in the middle of the 20th century.
However, as phone networks improved, the cost of long distance and international calls grew cheaper. So the popularity of ham radio dwindled for the masses. But, ham survival radio perfect for survival purposes.
Ham radio networks are both reliable and can communicate over long distances. They are also not dependent on cell phone towers. The only real drawbacks to ham radio are the equipment costs and the training necessary to learn how to use it.
If you intend to broadcast (and not just listen) then you will need to get an official license.
However, a license is not required to purchase, own and just listen in. Which is extremely valuable in most survival SHTF communications scenarios. And after SHTF all these rules and regulations won’t matter anyways.
Plus, getting a small setup and a license is easy. So don’t let it stop you from becoming a licensed operator.
Also, invest in upgrading your ham radio’s antenna so that yoyou can transmit and receive signals over longer distances. Getting intelligence reports from other States can prove very helpful when grid power is out across the nation due to an EMP attack.
Is CB Radio a Viable SHTF Communications Option?
Citizens Band radio was one of the most popular ways of keeping in contact with people in the 1970s and 80s. However, this form of radio communication dropped in popularity in the late 20th century.
CB Radio advantages include the greater range vs walkie talkies. However, a CB radio is generally located in a single location within a property. Within a built up area, the use of CB radio could be affected by larger buildings and more interference.
Unlike ham radio operators, a CB operator doesn’t require a license or pass a test to take to the airwaves.
Should I Invest in Listen Only Devices?
One of the major problems when disaster strikes is loss of power. For all the devices discussed thus far, they all require electrical or battery power to operate. So you’ll need to figure out your backup power system to operate these for longer periods of time when SHTF.
That’s why I suggest you invest in a listen only survival radio device. Not only are they low cost, you can get one with a hand crank to be able to easily keep it powered. Just crank and listen. Simple.
These shortwave listen only radios can provide an invaluable link to SHTF news. It can help keep you up to date on the current situation for any major disaster.
Another listen-only option to consider is the use of a police scanner. These allow you to obtain information that could be life-saving during an SHTF event.
This is a unique option as important news will be broadcast over analog police frequencies. But, many law organizations are moving to digital technologies. So over time, this option will become less effective.
Also, note that a scanner must be programmed in advance. You want to make sure you are tuned into the right channels to gain the right emergency news.
Your SHTF Communications Action Plan
You should make a plan for all 3: Listen, Local, and Long. These are the 3 communication levels you should strive for your SHTF communications. This means a 3 pronged approach.
1 – Listen Only
It’s small and light-weight (so it will fit in your Bug Out Bag), plus it doesn’t require batteries.
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Done? Good, you now have your electrical independent SHTF listen only communication taken care of. Congrats.
2 – Local Communication
Second is local communication. If you have a local survival coalition (and you should) then you need every member to have a walkie talkie. Now your coalition just got 10 times stronger as you can communicate so much better and faster when SHTF.
3 – Long Range Communication
For a true SHTF event, you’ll want to be able to reach out over longer distances to communicate with other survivalists and preppers.
Good SHTF communications is a difference maker in survival. The ability to listen, communicate locally, and over long distances is vital to your long-term survival success.
Don’t underestimate this advantage and don’t wait until its too late.