Survival Radio: 5 Solutions For Two Way Communications

Imagine Chechnyan hackers breaking into the National Inventory of Dams (NIDS). NIDS is a database of vulnerabilities of every major dam in the US. And further, imagine that the power goes out. All of it. For a long time.

A grid down situation can be catastrophic. But there’s something that can be even bigger. A communications network breakdown. Once communications lines go down, everyone is isolated. That’s why you need a plan.

You Need A Communications Backup Plan

With your own communications plan, you’ll have options, alternatives and backups. If one goes down, then you bring in your second line of defense. And if that one goes down, you bring on the next one.

In this article I’ll share 5 of these with you. By incorporating these five, you’ll have plenty of backups. We’ll cover walkie talkies, CB, ham, FRS/GMRS, MURS


Option 1: Walkie Talkies

Walkie talkies are important because they are cheap. You can get them from $10 up to $80. Their main limitation is their range which is about 1-2 miles. Forget the 35 mile claim. Another downside is the battery life. If you do alot of transmitting, then a set of 3 triple A’s will run out in 3-4 hours. The Motorola FV300 makes a pretty good set of walkie talkies. But if you want to go further up the food chain, then check out FRS/GMRS.


Option 2: Going Beyond The Neighborhood With FRS/GMRS

These days you’ll see many Family Radio Service (FRS)/GMRS combo radios. In FRS mode, you don’t need a license but the output is limited to 1/2 watt. The range is maybe a mile if you are lucky. Also, lets just face it, FRS radios are so cheap, a pair can be had for $25.00 at WalMart, Target, Amazon or eBay. These are often called “blister pack” radios, because they come in plastic containers. If FRS isnt enough for you, then try GMRS.

With GMRS channels 1-7 will give you up to 5 watts output and more range. The downside is that you need a license. But dont worry, its easy to get. And speaking of range, if you really want to step things up, get a GMRS radio with repeater channels. If you do, then your range just jumped to potentially hundreds of miles.


Option 3: MURS Radio With Perimeter Monitoring

Multi Use Radio Service (MURS) performs a little better than FRS. But there is one thing that makes MURS different than anything else. It’s that you can get perimeter “sensors” to match your radio. Here’s how it works.

You mount these sensors around your property. When they sense that a moving object is nearby, they will send an audible alert to the main MURS radio. And the alert can come in the form of a verbal warning.

A great example is the Dakota Alert M538-HT MURS 2 way handheld. It can receive alert signals from other MURS transceivers and has 5 channels and 38 sub channels to communicate with. You don’t need a license to operate MURS, but what do you do if you want more range? Check out CB.


Option 4: CB Radio

CB is a great alternative to FRS/GMRS. First though, with range, there are no repeaters with CB’s. So you are limited to the range of the actual device. And another downsides is that the FCC has a 155 mile limit. So you’re not supposed to talk beyond that range or to others in other countries.

On the plus side, you can change out CB antennas and attach something much bigger. GMRS doesnt even allow that. Another plus for CB is that there is no license required.

One great example of a handheld unit is the Midland 75-822. It runs about $80, doesn’t require a license, and has a cigarette lighter adapter for your car. It uses 6 nicad batteries which last a long time. Now if you want to go beyond what is possible with CB, then try ham.

Option 5: Ham Radio

Ham is universally recognized. It is an essential communications tool for emergencies and disasters. And to back up this claim, ham has saved many lives.
There are so many benefits to ham, it’s impossible to cover them in such a short article. With ham you can transmit morse code, voice, video and data. You can even create wireless computer networks with it. Here’s something else that’s cool about ham.

Lets say you’ve got a ham radio. There’s a feature called “autopatch”. This lets ham operators use telephone services with their ham radio. What is this good for? Let’s say the cell services are overloaded. So if you need to, you can access a telephone landline with “autopatch”.

Another benefit is you can contact 911 services just by transmitting a specific code via your keypad. If you are working with groups of people, ham radio provides many more options, more reliability and security than CB or GMRS.

Right now I’m studying for my ham and the radio I’ve got my eye on is the Yaesu VXR7. One reason I like it is because its rated for 30 minutes of submersion in 3 feet of water. But its expensive. Around $300-$400.

Want a cheaper alternative? Then check out the BaoFeng UV-5R for under $50. It’s a good, reliable and inexpensive dual band HT Radio.

OK, so i’ve shown you 5 different options to choose from. Now, here’s what you’re going to do.

Pick three of these options. Start learning more about each. Do a little research and decide on a budget and model that you feel comfortable and go about a plan to acquire that device.

In the end, you’ll have 3 survival radios, ready to go. And if by some chance a disaster does hit. You’ll not be stuck with one communications device that could go at any minute. But you’ll have 3 different solutions to communicate two way with your rescuers.. if need be.