Ham radio and prepper comms in general are a big topic in the preparedness community, and for good reason. The ability to communicate and organize in a disaster scenario is crucial. Without the normal means of communication we will need to have an alternative.
This is where ham radio, GMRS, FRS, CB radios and even walkie Talkies come into play. If the grid goes down and cell phones are rendered useless, you will still have the ability to communicate with your prepper group (or network) and your family while keeping informed of developing situations.
Prepper comms should be a big part of everyone’s preparedness plan, but unfortunately it sometimes gets overlooked. I suppose this is because there is so much more we need to do to become better prepared that it gets put on the back burner. Another reason is because something so simple can seem confusing and unnecessary to some people.
After you read this article make sure and watch the video below. Brian and I go into more detail about each of these topics. I’ve also included some links for good articles and podcast episodes I have done over at Survivalist Prepper with more detail about how these radios can be used specifically for preppers.
Confusing and Misleading Information
One of the big reasons people are hesitant about getting into ham radio or prepper comms in general is because it seems like a daunting task. You need to study for months to get your technician license and buy all the equipment just to get your foot in the door.
The truth is, none of this is necessary other than buying the radio. There are also options other than ham radios that don’t require you to get licensed which puts you on the FCC’s radar. As preppers we are probably on a few lists already, why add ourselves to another one.
While ham radio offers more options and should be the goal, you can get started with GMRS or FRS radios as well. If you’re not worried about broadcasting and “chewing the rag” as they call it, you might as well just start out with ham radio. You can start out for as little as $50 and learn bout everything before you start upgrading.
Do You Need a License?
One question I get all the time is “why would I want to get a license? Wouldn’t that put me on the FCC’s radar?” The answer is, there is no reason to get your ham radio technician license if you have no plans on broadcasting.
You can learn to use your radio and how they specifically apply to prepping without having to get put on yet another list. If you feel the need to broadcast, you can get yourself a FRS radio that doesn’t require a license from the FCC. Keep in mind, FRS is much more limited than ham radio and GMRS, but the principle is the same.
Types of Radios for Preppers
If you are reading this and wondering what GMRS or FRS are, then make sure and watch the video below. In the video I go into more detail about what these are, and what you can expect from each type or radio.
This video also goes into what you can realistically expect from each type of radio as far as broadcasting and receiving range. Click here to read the full article over at Survivalist Prepper which has all three videos.
Why Comms are Important for Preppers
As I stated in the video below, you won’t be able to talk to Uncle Bob 3 states away with a basic ham radio setup, but you probably don’t need to. Most of the important communications are going to be much closer to home. Here are a few examples of why communications are important in your preparedness plan.
- In a disaster situation you may need to organize with the neighbors or even a prepping group.
- If you are traveling with a group in a bug out situation you may need to communicate between cars or when the group is separated.
- Some ham radios can also receive emergency alerts and the NOAA weather radio channel.
A while back I had a friend Wayne on the Survivalist Prepper podcast and we talked about grid down communications and why it’s important to preppers. It’s a 2-part podcast and has some great information about what Wayne has done.
PAM-Radio (Prepper Amateur Radio)
Glen Tate of Prepping 2.0 and 299 Days Book Series fame has put together a GREAT tool for preppers looking make communications a bigger part of their preparedness plans. His PAM-Radio flash cards are something I wish I had when I first became interested in ham radio.
Glen covers everything preppers need to know about ham radio and leaves the confusing unimportant stuff out. Preppers don’t need to learn to build a ham radio from scratch, we just need to be able to use it when disaster strikes.
In my opinion the $15 a technician license costs would be better spent on these Pam-Radio flash cards. The technician test is filled with information that is useless for preppers, and also means you get put on yet another list.
Along with the why, how and when prepper comms is important, Glen also has a list of gear and recommendations battle tested by him and others in his network. He’s also added other resources specifically for preppers. What prepper specific groups there are, where to find the best information, and much more.
As I said, I highly recommend these flash cards for anyone that may be interested in ham radio or prepper comms in general. At the very least, head over and talk a look at the 7 videos he has put together. They give you a good understanding or how much information you get for just $16.
Grid Down Prepper Comms Video
Here is a segment of a live show that Brian and I did that covers prepper comms. You can watch the full live show here. Make sure and check out the links I added to this article, and head over to PAM-Radio when your done.
IMPORTANT: In this Video I stated that you didn’t need a license to use GMRS radios. You do need a license to broadcast on GMRS, but you don’t need one for FRS.