Monthly Archives: September 2013

Communication needs

During a disaster, whether it is a natural or caused by society, communication will be another important item for you to plan for. Back in the old days (Really just a decade ago) there were pay phones on every corner, and they were a very dependable method to transfer information. Now, most people carry a cellular phone, and rely on apps like Facebook, text messaging and Twitter to communicate with friends and family (isn’t is scary that cell phones are increasingly not used for talking to people). Cellular phones will not handle a large disaster, and depending on them to request help or provide your personal status should not be a priority. Each cell tower can only handle a specific number of connections, and with the way our government has been stomping on our 4th Amendment rights:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The cellular networks can be shut down by this oppressive government, and you need to have alternative methods for communicating.

Have a small portable radio that is battery powered, and preferably with a crank generator, NOAA Weather bands and short ware reception. Emergency Essentials have an affordable model located here. I have a similar model made by Grundig, and I have been happy with it. NOAA Weather channels can inform you of storms close to your region. Short wave reception is useful for getting information from across the USA and at night, (Due to the radio waves ability to bounce off the atmosphere) you can get information from other countries. I’m not saying our government would tell us what they want us to know (I love sarcasm), but it seems other countries news have much more accuracy than our US media that strives to give us unbiased and objective news (more sarcasm, I’m on a roll).

I have a Technicians Class Amateur Radio license, and see the benefit a Ham operator’s ability to relay information great distances. A Technicians License is fairly limited, and I expect to be able to reach other Hams within 8-10 miles from me with a good line of sight. I can transmit using a 2-meter radio in the 144 -148 MHz range. Most areas have a repeater to receive my broadcast, and retransmit my broadcast much further than my license allows. Higher license classes can use more powerful equipment and transmit much further than s 2-meter radio. The radio I have is a Yaesu VX-150 handheld. It is a reliable, tough, and inexpensive radio, and like most radios, can scan band used by emergency officials, so I can monitor my local area.

A CB (Citizens Band) radio has about the same range ability of a 2-meter radio. It does not require a license, which like a online chatroom or forum, allows the occasional jerk to cause trouble.

Another possible communication method is a GMRS/FRS radio. These radios have a range of about 1-2 miles, and have a license requirement ($85.00 fee) on channels 1-8, and channels 9-15 do not have the license requirement. Please do your own research as the rules are not as straightforward as I am implying.

As you can see, there are good choices for keeping contact with family and friends during an emergency. Relying on cellular service is not the best choice for getting valuable weather reports and news when we may need it most. Please comment on your thoughts on how you will stay in communication.

Take care,
Sensible Prepper

When Things Go Dark

Whether the power is off for a short time, or quite a bit longer, it is important to think now about how to handle your basic needs.

All emergency kits should have a good quality flashlight, and spare batteries. A battery powered radio will be good to keep tabs on weather or news, have spare batteries for the radio as well. A small solar panel can be used to charge rechargeable batteries for long outages. If it is possible for you to get a small generator and store gas, do it, but remember that you cannot store enough gas for long outages.

Solar yard lights can also be used for emergency lighting. I have found a very basic solar light at the big box store for $2.00. Alone it will not provide much more light other than keeping you from stubbing your toe on furniture, so having a few is good. Even a few of them will not allow you enough light for specific tasks, but it will definitely beat being in the dark. Place them outside during the day, and bring them inside at night. I have modified a few that I have, by adding a micro switch to not allow them to run continuously and preserve the charge.

Candles should also be kept available in your supplies, along with matches or a lighter. Tea light candles are another good source for light. They are small, inexpensive, come many to a pack and can last for 2-3 hours.

By using a small 150W inverter that plugs into your cars cigarette lighter, and an extension cord, you can power small devices and lighting inside your home. Purchase a LED light bulb (which draws only 3-7 Watts), put in in a table lamp, plug it into your extension cord to provide adequate lighting for most needs. It is one of the best tips for the short term power failures I can think of, and the cost is minimal.

Cooking can be done outside on the grill (assuming you have a charcoal or gas stove, make sure you store extra fuel), and when your supplies run out, be prepared to start a fire for cooking.

Heating and cooling is a very difficult task to handle without a large generator, and is much longer subject for this post. I have some basic ideas for my needs including a small AC unit, fans for cooling, and a wood burning stove for the colder months. Please think about things you can do now to keep your family comfortable.

Please comment on any ideas you have that will help us all provide for our energy needs when things go dark.

Sensible Prepper