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Radio Communication After a Disaster

radio communication after a disasterWhat’s your plan for radio communication after a disaster? Most of us are reliant on our cell phones, land line phones, VOIP phones or internet for all of our communication. After every major disaster, the towers and phone lines, in those areas are JAMMED. You may or may not get calls in our out, at least not reliably.

Radio Communication After a Disaster

Most cell phone towers are over subscribed. The companies count on the fact that everyone won’t be on the phone at the same time. If there’s a natural disaster, emergency or SHTF scenario, everyone is on the phone! This will make sending and receiving calls nearly impossible.

Another consideration to keep in mind, if the area you are in goes “Grid Down”, most phone companies only have enough generator fuel for 2 or 3 days.

What our the options for radio communications?

Radio Options:

  • CB radios
  • FRS / GMRS Radios
  • MURS Radios
  • HAM Radios

CB Radios

Convenient, readily available, mobile units have a range of 1-2 miles or greater (depending on antenna) and base units with big antenna can reach out really far. I expect these 40 channels will be clogged shortly after any disaster or grid down situation. Better than nothing. I had a CB radio in my car, but it now lives in my Ham Shack, and I just grab my handheld 2-meter/70cm radio for the car.

You can get a regular CB radio or something more portable, like a handheld CB radio.


FRS and GMRS Radios are convenient, readily available, you probably already have some, Range can be up to 2 miles with line of sight (so I hear, I’ve never gotten that kind of range). These are so common that, while handy, I expect these will also be heavily used, maybe to the point of way to much to be useful.

How common are these radios? They are available at sporting goods stores and big box stores. I even found a pair of Hello Kitty FRS/GMRS Radios for my daughters  (not everything prepper related has to be camouflage, have some fun).

MURS Radio

Very convenient, readily available, less common than the other options, Communications range exceeds GMRS/FRS radios and are ideal for outdoor activities. I think these would be your best bet for non-HAM licensed individuals, families or groups.

Another really nice set of features for the MURS band:

  • Infrared sensors for vehicle and pedestrian traffic and magnetic probe sensors, for vehicle only detection, can be combined in one system.
  • Sensors can be added to the system at any time. Build out your security one piece at a time or add in new zones when you need them. Each sensor has a unique voice alert message so you know which one was tripped.
  • Long range allows for the monitoring of remote buildings and areas. External antennas can be added to increase range if needed.

So you can have a MURS security perimeter setup around your home, property, farm, ranch or retreat. Bonus points for amazing!

HAM Radio

Requires licensing via a test, not as common, but has a great following and good community of operators. Probably the most reliable and scalable. Short and Long range communication. This is the sure fire, best bet for communications!

Go find a local HAM group and make friends, study then take your license tests.

If you want to get your HAM radio license, then head over to http://qrz.com/hamtest and create an account (FREE). They have practice exams that use the real questions, so when you walk in to take your HAM radio exam, you won’t have any surprises. I got my HAM technician license last year and it’s opened up a whole new world of communications and friends!


As you probably noticed the list went from least to best. This is the time to make your choices of post SHTF communications so you can have reliable Radio Communication After a Disaster. If the Shizzle hits the fan, you may not have another choice.


See our other Communication and Radio Posts:

Satellite Communications with Budget Ham Radios

Budget Ham Radio – Reliable and cheap

Budget Ham Radio – Part 2: The Prequal

HAM Radio Communications Gear

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