Communication is the backbone of modern life. Should disaster strike, conventional  communication channels are always at a risk of going down. Natural disasters can take out options like the internet and phones, leaving normal people with no communication method. However, the radio waves are ever-dependable and work wonderfully as emergency communication devices. You can use something as simple as a walkie talkie or pick a more advanced setup. Let’s take a look at some devices necessary for emergency communication.

1. Walkie Talkie

A walkie talkie is a simple device that can allow people to communicate without the need of any external network. It doesn’t need any license, subscription, or oversight and can be used freely. The conventional walkie talkie system makes use of push to talk to transmit messages. However, there are more advanced variants like walkie-talkies with bluetooth connection that allow pairing with other devices. In the simplest of scenarios, this could be a headset, but it opens the path to working with other devices and data as well.

That said, walkie talkies are limited in range for communication. While companies often claim a range of 35 miles, it is rarely true in real-world scenarios. In a city, even a couple of blocks would be a remarkable range. Open fields will allow larger ranges.

2. Ham Radio

Amateur radio or ham radio has been used for a rather long time. These devices have repeatedly proven their worth in tough situations and are often used as points of communication during natural disasters. Hams have an excellent range that can cover several miles and potentially the entire world.

Ham radios vary from handheld units to fixed devices and require a license to operate. There are tiers of these licenses and users are allowed to transmit only on frequencies allowed by their license. There is a healthy community of users around the world using ham radios. As such, these radios are often put into service during emergencies where conventional networks are unavailable. They can be used for disaster management, opening communication to other areas, and even search and rescue.

Apart from licenses, another problem with hams is battery life. Handheld devices can chug battery pretty quickly. On the other hand, fixed devices need electricity, which too may not be available during some emergency or disaster situations.

3. Satellite Phones

As the name implies, these phones use satellites for communication. Given their wide coverage and connectivity, satellite phones remain operational and usable for emergency communication. It helps if the user is in a clear area in the outdoors that is free of foliage. While the phones can work indoors as well, connectivity and quality might be better with open spaces.

Even though they use different technology for text and voice communication are concerned, satellite phones are quite similar to conventional mobile phones. The biggest drawback for these phones is the cost – satellite phones can be prohibitively expensive. And you’ll require an equally expensive subscription to keep the phone working. Many of these phones also suffer from problems related to battery life and are thus of limited use.

4. Citizen Band Radio

Citizen Band or CB radio can cover an area of 20-30 miles, allowing for remarkably good communication. Unlike ham radio, CB radio does not need a license, and unlike walkie talkies, it can afford a larger range. However, these radios are usually bulky and are not very popular as handheld devices, though they are available on the market. 

They are pretty useful for desktop or vehicle use. In fact, CB radio is most widely used by truckers. Their use generally includes conversations with other drivers on the road and sharing information. Of course, it can as easily be employed for emergency communication in tough situations.

5. Police Scanner

A police scanner isn’t as much a communication device as it is an information device. In emergency scenarios, it can be helpful to keep up to date with information and happenings on your local police channels and bands. These might include everything from police preparations to directions for citizens and efforts being directed.

Apart from the police, these scanners can also be used to listen to communications between services and resources like fire, weather, aircrafts, maritime, EMS, and many others. Police scanners are legal to use in the USA, however, some states have restrictions. Potential users must check with their local jurisdiction to see if they can use these devices.

6. Mobile Phones And Social Media

While the availability of services remains questionable during natural disasters, mobile phones and social media have emerged as great tools of emergency communication. Simply updating your status on social media can let your family and well-wishers know that you are safe. 

Many well-known websites and services also send warnings of impending natural disasters and enable users to communicate their response/status. Where connectivity is concerned, the internet cannot be beaten. The power that modern smartphones bring is also worthy of consideration. So, if these networks are available, they can be remarkably efficient for emergency communication.

The Device To Pick

There is a wide range of devices to deal with emergencies, each with its positives and negatives. A walkie talkie is a simple device and is worth keeping at home, just in case a need arises. People who like a greater level of connectivity can consider other devices like ham radio or CB radio. These could potentially also come in handy for communication with other regions if some emergency takes down communication networks in your region. 


Published by James Howart