Radio as a Contingency Communication for LAE / SHTF

Familiarize yourself with radio contingency communications IOT prepare for a life altering event (LAE)

Radios are affordable and easily obtainable. They can be maintained with minimal expertise. They have multiple means of powering such as solar, cranks, replaceable batteries, USB/Outlet charging. Aside from Ham radios, most types of radio devices are simple to use and do not require training. Literally anyone can press the button on the side of a walkie-talkie or turn on the FM radio in a car. Devices are small and can be carried in a bag or on your person. They can be stored in a Faraday cage to withstand damage during events such as an EMP. They offer instantaneous relay of information. "Listen only" devices such as FM/AM can allow for millions to receive live information as news unfolds. They can be used to share instructions, navigation, tactical movements, and more. Most newer devices feature the ability to transmit text based data such as the radio station name, or, if you are listening to music, even the song name and artist. This uses RDS technology and offers endless capabilities for survival information relay. 

Following a LAE where hostile actors are monitoring your communication, or where OPSEC is a concern, take precautions to limit exposure. Use directional antennas and only the minimal amount of power to make contact with your intended recipient. Notate distance and wattage needed and mark it on your home and mobile devices as a reference. Using unnecessary power not only drains energy sources but also increases your frequency footprint allowing others to hone in on your location.

Radio communication is the transmission of radio signals. These signals are electromagnetic frequencies. The frequencies are modulated for communication, and they are less than the frequency of visible light. These electromagnetic radiations travel through air and vacuum. In order to carry the information, some of the properties are modulated, or changed. The properties of radio waves are amplitude, phase and frequency. Radio signal reception depends on weather, terrain, and frequency type/strength.

Radio comms

Below is a summary of radio options. Review and assess which devices and features would best aid in a LAE (an event where some type of disaster, long-term collapse, or attack has altered access to primary means of communication).

NOAA:  Know how to tune to the "Weather Channel". Use radio to stay in the know and informed of emergencies and weather impacting your region.

FM/AM: This is a must have device. While it only receives info, sometimes knowledge is what we need most in order to react. Get at least two radio receivers and a NOAA certified receiver. Keep one radio in a Faraday Cage with batteries removed and make sure it has alternative charging means such as solar or hand crank. 

Ham: This is the ideal device for most end of the world scenarios and is popular in the prepping community. They are low priced portable devices but the real use comes with a high watt and costly setup with a series of repeaters (there are also internet based repeaters). It’s something to consider, but not for beginners. If you have limited time and money to commit to contingency comms, we suggest GMRS radio. If you are able to obtain necessary training, certification, and equipment; ham is the preferred goal of long-term LAE.

CB: The range of these devices is good but CB use has dropped dramatically in the past decade. For most scenarios, there are better options. They are typically large, don’t use portable batteries, and a bit more costly than a GMRS radio.

FRS (Walkie-talkies): Great starting point for close comms and extremely cheap and easy to use but if possible upgrade to GMRS and get your license for its use.

GMRS: This is the most realistic contingency comms device for most scenarios. The range, ease of use, and price make it our choice for SHTF. You’ll need a license but it can be obtained in a day with no test.

MURS: This type of radio is typically used in concert with other devices such as phones, motion alarms, or messaging devices. If you want to go a step further than basic push to talk radio comms, look for other LAE devices that incorporate MURS as it is reliable and the range is sufficient for most tasks.

Scanner: A radio scanner is a receiver that can automatically tune, or scan, two or more discrete frequencies, stopping when it finds a signal on one of them and then continuing to scan other frequencies when the initial transmission ceases. They are available both as portable and base devices that directly receive radio signals and as internet based repeaters such as a smartphone app or online website that is linked to a digital system that collects a radio signal, streams/uploads, then redistributes the signal via the internet.