The Different Emergency Radio Options
Written by Jonathan Dick, and posted on the "Ready Store" website
In an emergency, you’ll want to make sure your family and friends are OK and let them know that
you are safe. A family communication plan is essential in an emergency.
Before a Disaster
Out of Town Contact. Your family should pick a friend or extended family member who lives out of
the state to contact. This out-of-state contact can pass along information and keep track of
everyone to know that they are safe. It will be a lot easier for them to coordinate instead of the
people who are in the disaster.
Make sure that this out of town contact’s information is written down inside of your 72-hour kits
and that you have copies in helpful places like a child’s backpack or your wallet.
Talk to your family before an emergency to determine a meeting place. There is a large chance
that a disaster could occur while you are at work or your children are at school. Prepare
accordingly by determining where you will meet in that situation.
Storing Emergency Communication Devices
Depending what device you have, the storage of the device may vary. For example, many walkie-
talkies require that the batteries be taken out of the device if you’re going to store it for a long
period of time. You should also store these devices in a water-proof or fire-proof container.
Depending on what device you have, you might need to plan on a power source for your
communication device. Whenever possible, purchase something that doesn’t require batteries –
something like a dynamo crank radio. If your device is something bigger like a Ham radio, you
might invest in a solar-paneled power source.
If you do invest in a device that requires batteries, make sure that you have a way to recharge
the batteries with a solar paneled battery recharger or some other device.
There are a lot of apps and other options but BridgeHelp is a new smartphone app that was just
released a few months ago. All you have to do is open the app and click that you “Need Help” or
“I’m OK.” The app then sends a text to a list of your emergency contacts telling them whether you
are in need of help or not. Text messages usually work better during a disaster so this might be a
good way to go.
• Average Prices: $80 – 120
• Range: Usually 3-5 miles (line-of-sight). Some come with higher antennas that allow for 20 miles.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) devices are a series of walkie-talkie radios that are
typically portable and small and have a range of 3-5 miles. In the United States, a license is
required to operate a GMRS device. They are usually more expensive than the FRS devices.
Name Freq. Motorola Convention Icom F21-GM Convention Notes
“550” 467.550 Ch. 15 Ch. 1
“575” 462.575 Ch. 16 Ch. 2
“600” 462.600 Ch. 17 Ch. 3
“625” 462.625 Ch. 18 Ch. 4
“650” 462.650 Ch. 19 Ch. 5 Not permitted near the U.S. Canadian border.
“675” 462.675 Ch. 20 Ch. 6 Suggested as the nationwide emergency channel.
“700” 462.700 Ch. 21 Ch. 7 Not permitted near theU.S. Canadian border.
“725” 462.725 Ch. 22 Ch. 8
• Average Prices: $20 – $50
• Range: Usually less than 1 mile (line-of-sight).
Family Radio Service (GMRS) devices are series of walkie-talkie radios that are more common
and available without a license. They are often used by businesses as their in-store
communication system. (Think of someone paging a manager on their walkie-talkie at Wal-Mart.)
A FRS device usually has a filtering system to sift out unwanted sounds and chatter from other
users on the same frequency (unlike the CB Radio). They aren’t very good at protecting
conversations and usually interact with other devices like baby monitors, toys and cordless
Channel Frequency(MHz) Notes
1 462.5625 Shared with GMRS
2 462.5875 Shared with GMRS
3 462.6125 Shared with GMRS
4 462.6375 Shared with GMRS
5 462.6625 Shared with GMRS
6 462.6875 Shared with GMRS
7 462.7125 Shared with GMRS
• Average Prices: $40 – $50
• Range: Usually 1-5 miles.
The Citizens’ Band (CB) Radio is a great option for short-distance radio communication. It doesn’t
require a license and allows for more business and personal communication. Only one station
can be talking at a time. This is the kind of device that is used by truckers and some police
officers. CB Radios are not intended for international use because so many different countries
use the frequencies differently. Below are the frequencies and channels listed in the United
Channel's then the Frequency(MHz)
1 26.965 11 27.085 21 27.215 31 27.315
2 26.975 12 27.105 22 27.225 32 27.325
3 26.985 13 27.115 23 27.255 33 27.335
4 27.005 14 27.125 24 27.235 34 27.345
5 27.015 15 27.135 25 27.245 35 27.355
6 27.025 16 27.155 26 27.265 36 27.365
7 27.035 17 27.165 27 27.275 37 27.375
8 27.055 18 27.175 28 27.285 38 27.385
9 27.065 19 27.185 29 27.295 39 27.395
10 27.075 20 27.205 30 27.305 40 27.405
• Average Prices: $100 – $300
• Range: Usually 20-60 miles
Despite its name, the Amateur radio (Ham radio) is not for anyone’s use. The system got its name
from its use as a non-commercial and non-governmental use of communication.
One is required to obtain a license in order to operate a ham radio and sometimes the ham
radios can be very expensive. Ham radios are great for communicating between long distances
but there is a lot of red tape surrounding their use.