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If there’s a national disaster or even localized emergency, your cell phone won’t be the “go-to” form of communication. In some cases, the antiquated land lines may still be working, particularly in weather-related localized disasters. Many people have wireless landlines, so investing in a backup phone that is like those used in the last century might be a good investment. You may already have one boxed up in your storage area. If so, find it so you won’t be looking when a flashlight or candle is your source of light. In some cases, such as a SHTF disaster like an EMP attack, neither of these may be good options and communications might only be achieved with personal radios. CB radios may be one of those options, but few people still broadcast on these and their range is limited. The best answer is a GMRS, FRS or MURS—which most people use today instead of a CB radio—or even better a HAM radio.
The GMRS, FRS or MURS radios are less expensive to purchase than HAM radios and for the FRS and MURS radios, no license is necessary. The problem for these two is their range is limited, even though they’re a better option than a CB, they’re simply not good enough. A GMRS radio requires a license, but they also have more power. If there is a working repeater in the area—which probably won’t occur in a major disaster—the range increases dramatically to as much as hundreds of miles. Even though a license is necessary, of the three choices, go with the GMRS.
Probably the best radio to use in a natural disaster is a HAM radio/amateur radio. These have two drawbacks for many people. First, they require training to use and secondly, licensing. However, neither is difficult to attain. HAM radios will help you stay connected to family and friends if they have a radio and if you’re on the radio frequently, you may run into mutual friends who can keep them or you posted if you’re in an emergency situation or they are.
HAM radios have a far wider range, which you can beef up with an antennae. In some places, antennaes are not legal, but you can create a discrete one easily and just use it for emergencies when you need more range. When you have a HAM radio, you can get information by using the frequencies such as the National Guard in emergencies, the Red Cross, the NOAA weather broadcasts and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among other important frequencies. In an emergency, retrieving information can be just as important as transmitting it, so creating your own list of important frequencies should be done ahead of time.