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Showing posts with label FRS Radios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FRS Radios. Show all posts

Friday, August 26, 2011

Earthquakes, Hurricanes and other Natural Disasters - whats your SHTF Communications Plan?

Within the past week we have seen Earthquakes on the Colorado-New Mexico border and in the Larger Washington D.C. area. In the case of the District of Columbia, people reported their voice cellular communications affected. Oddly enough texting was not as affected for the people I called to look into this, however most reported their phones out of service for both for some of the time.

We have Scientists predicting a large earthquake in the Memphis, Tennessee area. More floods are forecasted for the Missouri and Mississippi rivers regions. And then you have California.......with predictions to a giant earthquake coming with hundreds of thousands of casualties to even the dire prediction of the California coast sliding off into the Pacific.

Now we have Hurricane Irene barreling down on the East coast. Then to top it off, my cellular carrier has a tower gone so as my phone jumps around to connect to a tower, I drop calls all the time. All of this got me to thinking about most of the people out there unprepared to react to a communications shutdown and live within a broader communications bare environment.

I have a no-communications plan not only with my family but the people who will be part of my survival group. We have planned routes of travel to our planned primary survival holeup (my house) and to our secondary holeup as well. The first people at either location, as most of us work during the day, will monitor our emergency radio and establish a base station net control.

We have emergency linkup points selected in case of no-shows. We have this backed up by Push to Talk Family Radio System Walk-About type radios with pre-selected primary, alternate, contingency and emergency channels and brevity codes.

I have some higher end VHF radios, but no enough to go around to all survival group members and to valuable to field now. They will be in use once the survival group co-locates.

We have rehearsed this with most of our moving parts (survival group members) at a pre-arranged time to denote a notional national emergency. Doesn't have to be a natural disaster. It could be a pandemic outbreak alert, a nuclear or EMP attack, a market collapse or other government announcement sending people and society into chaos.

SO, I just wanted to remind everyone to imagine an event creating chaos with our normal landline and cellular communications systems. What would you do? Do you know what your family, friends and survival team members would do?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Urban Survival Tools - Radio Communications, Part One

If you intend on surviving a TEOTEAWKI or a total collapse scenario in anything other than a one person group, you should consider the very real necessity of radio communications.

Survival, be it in an Urban Survival or Survival in a Rural environment, is most likely going to be with a larger group rather than one person. Hence two way communications would be extremely valuable. Some circumstances may be a Listening Post/Observation Post (LP/OP) or other Security Position reporting a sighting of a possible threat that would allow them to continue observation of a possible threat and eliminating a need to take “eyes off” the target to report to somebody.

If a group, such as a patrol, leaves the safe location, reporting via two way radios that the group is re-entering the safe location may prevent friendly fire.

This post will be the first of several on Radio Communications. We are going to start with the basics of the most commonly available radio communications system which is the Family Radio Service (FRS)/General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios available at retail stores as well as through Amazon thru the links below.

As far as Urban Survival is concerned, what are the differences between these two types of radios? Well, here is a brief explanation of FRS & GMRS radios.

FRS or Family Radios Service radios are compact, handheld, wireless 2-way radios that provide very good clarity over a relatively short range. FRS radios operate on any of 14 dedicated channels (1-14) designated by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) expressly for FRS radio usage. In order to comply with FCC standards, FRS radios have a maximum allowable power of 0.5 milliwatts (or 1/2 watt). FRS radio transceivers and their antennas may NOT be modified to extend their range.

FRS radio range:
Generally stated as "up to 2 miles," you should note that this manufacturer’s stated range should be construed as the absolute max, to be achieved only under optimal conditions (such as flat terrain, no obstructions and full batteries). Somewhere in the 1/4 to 1 mile range, depending upon conditions, is much more realistic.

FRS radio distinctions:
1) Unlike with CB (citizens band) radios and most other 2-way radios, there is no license required to use an FRS radio.
2) There are no fees for usage, airtime or per-call charges. (Aside from the cost of batteries, they are virtually free to use.)

GMRS or General Mobile Radio Service radios operate on any of up to 8 dedicated channels (15-22) designated by the FCC. GMRS radios typically have power ratings of 1.0 to 5.0 watts and have a maximum allowable power of 50 watts.

GMRS radio range:
GMRS radios typically achieve greater ranges than FRS radios. GMRS range is generally specified by manufacturers as "up to 5 miles" and occasionally slightly more. Again, this is a maximum range, likely achieved only under optimal conditions. Realistic range for GMRS radios under most conditions is more likely 1-2 miles, depending upon the particular conditions.

GMRS radios are very similar to FRS radios, except for a few important distinctions:
1) GMRS radio use requires you to purchase an FCC operator’s license.
2) GMRS radios generally achieve greater ranges than FRS radios.
3) While FRS radios may NOT legally be altered, GMRS radios may legally be outfitted or retrofitted with optional antennas, car antennas or home antennas to extend their range. For more information, please visit the FCC online at Note: Some GMRS radios (those with non-detachable antennas) will NOT accommodate antenna alterations. If you intend to alter your GMRS radio, please take care to choose a radio with a detachable-style antenna that accommodates your needs.

FRS/GMRS dual-service or "hybrid" radios:
FRS/GMRS 2-way radios are simply dual-service, or "hybrid," radios that provide access to both the FRS and GMRS bands, utilizing FRS channels (1-14) and GMRS channels (15-22). Use of a dual-service radio’s GMRS bands requires an FCC operator’s license. Dual-service radios may be used without an operator’s license, if only the FRS channels are used.