|Survival Communications Options
If you’re concerned about gathering or sharing information in a SHTF situation there are
numerous ways to improve your communications abilities. Bad SHTF situations can drastically limit
one’s communications to face-to-face conversations, or leave one with the choice of trying to
avoid all attempts at communicating outside the immediate area. However, there are two radio
options for anyone caught up in a SHTF situation. One way radio which means that you are only
able to listen to what you can receive on your radio, and two-way radio, that offers listening
capabilities and the option to send messages also.
Most commercial consumer radios could become useless if a SHTF situation were bad enough.
Most commercial consumer radios do not include amateur radio bands on which emergency
communications usually is carried, especially if governmentally linked radio is knocked out. The
big drawback to relying on AM and FM commercial radio broadcasting is that you can only listen to
what they broadcast, without the ability to enter into a conversation with the broadcasting party.
On the other hand, ham or amateur radio offers a host of radio bands and equipment that are FCC
approved… and you can learn to build this stuff for yourself. Ham radio includes bands that are
also used for emergency/disaster operations by amateur operators assisting in crisis management
situations. If someone gets a ham/amateur license now, he/she can practice using her/his
equipment and making contacts in the USA and around the world. Many ham operators do this as a
hobby and I’m guessing many also do it for preparedness. The American Radio Relay League (the
ARRL) is the go-to organization and source for learning about amateur radio, radio electronics,
antennas, and a host of related subjects, including how weather, solar, geological, and
atmospheric conditions affect radio communications. With the right timing, conditions, and
antenna, most operators on two-way ham radios (and even CB on 11 meter band) can talk around
their towns, states, and nations, or even internationally. The biggest drawback for SHTF situations
is that most two-way radios do not operate in a secure mode and are open to anyone listening to
the frequency on which one is operating. On the other hand, that is also one of the biggest assets
of two-way ham radio, that anyone in the world might be able to pick up your signal and relay your
communications to your target destination.
A third option for those who want multi-band listening coverage, but do not care about two-way
communications (thus staying more “off the radar” in a SHTF situation), then there is crystal radio
building and listening that might satisfy your needs. Crystal radio listening or building, in its
simplest form, is the most primitive form of radio, and requires very little time or investment to get
started. Here’s a Google search on that topic. These simple radio receivers need no batteries or
external power supply apart from the strength of the radio signals that they pick up out of the air.
These can be built out of scrap materials around most people’s homes. Soldiers in combat have
been known to build crystal radios out of available materials. Primitive crystal radios can be
cheaply and quickly made, though fancier ones can demand higher expense of time and money
depending on how intricate the builder wants to make it. These are receive only radios, so don’t
expect to talk with friends or relatives across town or the country.