Emergency Communication Ideas For Your Survival Kit (Week #16)

This article on emergency communication is another part to my 72 hour survival kit preparation guide.

This is probably one of the most important parts of your survival kit! Communication is our key to a happy & healthy life. We all take for granted that we can wake up every day, pick up our cell phone and start connecting with the world.

But, what happens when that cell phone is dead and the power is out?

Where do you turn with no electricity and downed trees that keep you from hitting the open road?

Communication for survival kits have plenty of options. This might include satellite radios, CBs, voice over internet protocol (VOIP), pen and paper, and more.

Which options you choose will depend on your budget and location!

Planning For Emergency Communications

Below are some things you should consider for the communication portion of your survival kit.

Good Old Pen + Paper

This may seem silly, but the first step will be creating a list of important phone numbers and contacts. Yes, you probably have these people in your phone, but oh no, your phone is dead. And do not even think about trying to remember these numbers! When you are stressed, the last thing you will want to think about is phone numbers.

Create a list of the top 5 or 10 people you would be able to contact if an emergency would strike. You should have one in your emergency binder, but having another one that is handy is a good idea.

You can laminate it to keep it safe from wetness and place it in a drawer, tape it under a table, or have it in another safe place. Just make it easily accessible.

Plan A Local Meeting Place

If there is a local emergency, you can also work with your family to create a meeting place. This would be a safe space you can all meet at when it is safe to do so. This can mean creating a map of the local area and pinpointing the exact spot you will meet.

Long Distance Contact

If your local area loses power and phone, it will be important to have an out of area contact that can be contacted. Letting loved ones in another area know you are safe, or be able to help with any emergency needs will be critical during this time.

It would be a good idea to let them know you are adding them to your emergency list as a contact. Be sure to let all local family members know who your contact is, and that you have theirs if it is not the same. This way you all can help each other if needed.

Communicating In An Emergency

There are basically two types of communication.

One-way and two-way communication. One-way is where you can receive information from a source, two-way is where you can receive and send information (a phone call).

Both are great options for emergencies. Of course, we always want to have that two-way communication in an emergency but in the event that is not possible we do have some options for one-way communication too.

The important thing to remember is to keep your communication short and sweet! You are not the only one in the emergency and clogging available lines can be putting another family at risk.

Below are a few options for communication that you can include in your survival kit.

Two way radio (Walk-Talkie)

Back in the day they were also called walkie-talkies. You may have played with them as a kid! But they are one of the best ways to stay in touch during an emergency. These Midland brand walkie talkies are what we use in our own kit. They have a 30 mile range for areas that are no filled with buildings, making them perfect in our rural area. They can also be used with a rechargeable batter or AAA batteries which is great in the event power goes out.

Just remember to check on those AAA batteries every once in a while to make sure they are still good. The last thing you want is to have to use them to only realize they are no longer good because they sat too long.

Hand Crank Emergency Radio

You will not be able to communicate with others with this radio, but it offers a bunch of great options for any emergency.

These types of radios often come with several power sources like hand crank, solar power, AC power, or battery operated. This provides many options to fit any emergency. You can typically charge a phone, get light, and hear the news.

This is a must have for any emergency kit. This hand crank radio comes with over 11,000 4.5 star reviews.

CB Radio

A CB (citizen band radio) was made famous by truckers, but they can be a great emergency communication tool as well. They have a range of channels that you can connect with and usually have a range of about 15-20 miles.

They do require an antenna to work which can be an issue in some cases, but this is a cheaper option. So, there are definitely pros and cons.

The Cobra CB is a great option and comes with a NOAA weather channel and emergency alert system. This can be very helpful during that emergency! Not all CBs come with weather and emergency alerts, so be sure to do your homework.

Change or Prepaid Calling Cards

Some areas may not have ay phones anymore so this will depend on where you live. But having some spare change in a baggie or prepaid calling cards can be a help if you do have pay phones around your town.

Amateur Ham Radio

These are actually a pretty popular hobby, but an amateur ham radio is a great option for communication during emergencies. They are more closely related to a CB radio, but have more range which means you can reach further distances.

Ham radios are not reliant on a power grid and can work with a battery and antenna which is why it makes a great option for emergency contacts.

I do not personally have a Ham Radio, but this one seems to have great reviews. It might be something I consider in the future though!

The downside to the ham radio is that you do need a license to operate one because it can be a powerful tool. There are some great guides like this one that can help you understand what is required.

Backup Power

All of the above do require some kind of power so it is important you understand what each needs. In some cases you may need additional traditional batteries, in others you may need a portable battery pack.

Signaling For Help During An Emergency

Now, let’s talk about getting help. What if you and the family are just not in a position to reach the outside world with any of the above options?

I really hope it never gets that bad for you, but if it does, below are some ways you can signal for help. I do recommend having a couple of these in your survival kit.

Rescue Howler Signal

This little piece of plastic can let out an ear-piercing 100-decibel signal that can be heard over a mile away. It is small and compact and can be a great way to let people come to you when you need help. I make sure my family has this in our kit – and also in our camping bag. You can find them on Amazon here.

Glass Signal Mirror

No noise with this emergency item, but the glare you create can be seen for miles. This signal mirror is actually a military grade and was designed to help find downed pilots. These are a must have staple for campers and hikers and are a great addition to a survival kit. Just point the mirror at a light source and the glare will be seen for long distances letting people know you need help and where you are.


No emergency kit is complete without whistles. Grab a couple and throw them in to your survival kit to use if you are unable to use any other options.


You may have seen flares used near cars on the side of the road, flares are a staple in many homes and for a good reason. Flares can be used in most weather conditions and can burn for about 15 minutes giving people a chance to see where you are.

A flare gun is a bit of a better option as it allows you to shoot the flare into the air which can help you get more visibility when stranded.

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you enough to create a solid communication plan for your survival kit. If you have ever used communications in an emergency – please let us know what worked for your family!


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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

82 thoughts on “Emergency Communication Ideas For Your Survival Kit (Week #16)”

  1. We’re pretty good in this category. Everyone has whistles and glow-sticks in their individual packs. We have a hand crank radio in the main pack. My hubby wants to get some new two-way radios since the ones we have are charged by plugging them in, which wouldn’t do much good if we are away from home or out of power.

  2. I’ve got whistles , but I need to pick up one more for my youngest child. Would love to be able to get a radio. That will have to go on my wishlist.

  3. I just added a solar powered/hand crank/battery operated emergency radio that will also recharge my cell phone battery. Still getting used to how it operates, but seems as if it works well.

    I was thinking that ham radio would be a good way to communicate as well.

  4. I’ve added a few chem-lights that I found on sale. They are useful to provide a simple passive signal. They do have a finite working life. Use one to mark your location at night so searchers can find you or so you can find your way back to camp in the dark. Tie one to a short length of cord and swing it in a circle to be even more visible. Hang one on your gear so it is easier to follow you in the dark.

  5. We don’t really have much of anything for this week. No extra money for a good radio or hand radios, but it is one thing that I will be asking for for Christmas . We do have a solar cell phone charger though. My husband found it online for like 7 dollars. We at least have that. I know there’s a good chance they will not work but just incase it was something we could afford. My grandmother passed during catrina, so we were down there two days after it hit and my husbands cell was the only one that picked up any service so everyone was using our phone. The solar charger would have come in handy then. I hope we have the money to get something else before we really need it, but its nice to know we can charge our phones. Also our phones have every imaginable app such as weather radio, police scanner, news, compass, ect. I wouldn’t count on this by any means but it is an extra option to add just incase phone towers are functional. If a tornado hit my house and we were trapped somewhere chances are my phone would still be working.

  6. I picked up a couple whistles at an arts and crafts fair this week from the police/fire department stall. I also registered my two girls in the local county child id program.

  7. I am happy to say we have one of the hand-crank/battery/ radios with a flashlight built in. It can also recharge cell phones. However, I just looked at all of the cell phone adapters, and I don’t think any of them are compatible with a phone that uses a standard charger!
    We have a pair of 2-way radios as well as a whistle and a Boy Scout signal mirror somewhere, and I would like to get one more of each. I wondered what other objects could be used for signaling (like an empty makeup compact) and came across this useful link: https://www.adventuresportsonline.com/signal.htm

  8. I will definitely add a whistle to everyone’s kit this week. I like the idea of having a solar or hand crank radio also.

  9. Thank you for these wonderful plans Misty! I am currently working on getting my little family’s 72 hr. kits and food storage all up to date and together and everything you’ve done is so helpful! This is a daunting and overwhelming task and its nice to have some guidance.

  10. I only have the basic whistle and mirror. I’ll be getting some 2-way radios and hopefully a regular radio with a crank as well.

    This website is absolutely amazing, as well as inspiring. Thanks for all your hard work that helps out so many families! 🙂

  11. I am working on all these things but limited income means I can only purchase smaller things first and at different times…hopefully I will gradually get all I need.

  12. We have whistles, mirrors, and a hand crank radio that we just put into the bags. We need to purchase 2 way radios and also we would like to add some flares to our kits as well (not sure if this would be considered a communication device or if it falls under another category)

  13. We also need some work in this area, we have made plans in case the roads are blocked and the phones do not work and we are away from the house of places to meet, a second place in case the first is not available and this place is for extended family not just my household. Most of us live and work less than 50 miles and most closer than 10 miles, so a meeting place for siblings and parents also makes sense for us. As of now we only have whistles, but plan to get a radio soon. Thanks for everything!

    • Plans are half the battle Scarlet! I think many of us have tools, but no plans and in that case the tools won’t do us much good! Thanks for the reminder!

  14. I just stumbled upon your blog and love it! You are an amazing woman to find time not only to prep, but to help out newbie preppers like myself. My hubby and I are trying to set up our 10 acre plot and in some ways, we couldn’t be more prepared (19 layer hens, couple of goats, big dogs, greenhouse) but we have literally nothing set up for water aside from some 50 gal rain barrels. Hopefully we’ll get our sand-point hand pump in as soon as the ground thaws. I’m so excited about checking out your tips for food storage… I have two pathetic totes in our basement with cans of beans and mac & cheese… hey, my kids will eat =) Thanks so much for all the great info!!!!

    • Welcome Anna! I’m so glad to have you here! But I have to admit that although I use a lot of food storage and have a pretty good 72 hr kit, I still consider myself a “newbie” in a lot of ways! There is always more to learn. I learn great stuff from my readers all the time and I’m sure I could learn a lot from you too! Sounds like you have some great experience! Feel free to share it! And I’ll be updating all the food storage tips and recipes this week to make them easier to navigate!

  15. First of all, I want to start out by saying that we received the sleeping bag. My kids love it and are taking turns using it. Kaleb says it is the best sleeping bag he has ever had ( he’s 11, so he hasn’t had too many, lol ). He is looking forward to using it this summer at camp. I am very impressed with the quality. Thanks again.
    My kids schools are next to each other – they know to seek each other out. Kaleb has a cell phone. I have heard that during emergencies it will take “forever” to get a call out. However, text messages stand a better chance. We have discussed our emergency plans with the kids.

    • Reading this seriously made my day. I give out so many prizes and it never gets old hearing about how you are enjoying them! I’m so glad to hear 11 yr old Kaleb approves! Thanks!

  16. So far it seems we are doing pretty good on our kits. I had not really thought about tool though. We do have one on the radios that works on ac/dc, crank or solar power. We have a set of walkie talkies we used to use when we traveled in the motorhome. I need to get working on the money in the kit, but I have several piggy banks with lots of change in them that I will pour into some bags and put in there. I never spend my change. That way I always have some money at the end of the month if we run short or if an emergency expense comes up.

    • Sounds like you are doing pretty well Nancy! Often we are doing much better than we think when we really look at what we’ve got. Sometimes the only thing we really need to do is put it all in one spot!

  17. I was able to purchase a walkie-talkie through my affiliation with CERT. It is more than what you can buy at Wal-Mart. It is a police and fire scanner . . . and my communication for CERT. I have a whistle – actually several. But I have not yet decided if I need a regular radio???? Still thinking about it – I have read that for preppers, the key word is: redundancy.

  18. Well said Nann and Lisa. Misty, you are doing us an enormous favor by sacrificing your time with your family to feed us information. So, no apologies necessary. Thank you so much.

    • THank you Marcia! YOu guys are so kind! I’m very touched reading all these emails. SO SO good to know that my readers really do support me in ALL I do…not just what I do here! Thanks.

  19. No need for apologies! We all understand you are a very busy person (wife, mother, consultant, and INDIVIDUAL). Sometimes we all just have to take time for ourselves. It keeps us healthy – mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you don’t do this on occasion it is what leads to sickness and exhaustion! So you take whatever time you need when you need it and we all can enjoy your post no matter when it is posted. 😀

    As far as this category…I have a whistle, mirror, a battery operated AM/FM radio with extra batteries stored. Oh, and of course, my cell phone which I keep charged all the times and have several ways to charge it (ex: car charger, USB adapter, and portable disposable cell phone charger). What I really want to add to this portion of preparedness is one of the Red Cross Solar Link FR360 radios that can be powered from solar, hand crank, batteries, and AC power. It also has 3 white LED for a source of light, a flashing red LED, and will charge my cell phone! Other than our cell phones (and assuming all land lines are down) my grown kids and I don’t have any other way to communicate. Since we live in a very mountainous region and I live about 7 miles away and 1,500 feet in a lower elevation than them, I am unsure that the long range radios would do us much good here. Luckily we will be living closer soon enough and then the long range handhelds could be an option.

    • P. S. To me it says a lot about you and the person you are when you hold your webinar from your laptop in the garage so that your children can be themselves and laugh and play with Dad while you sacrifice some of your time with them in the evening to help all of us! I for one appreciate YOU and all you do to help us prepare and had a little giggle myself when you told us where you were holding the webinar. : )

    • Thank you Lisa! Everyone is so kind! I’m glad you are all so patient with me. You are right though, sometimes I do need to remember that I am an individual!

      Yes, it is funny that I hold webinars in the garage. The kids think I’ve “gone to work,” so they don’t come looking for me. Whereas if I’m in my room, they just follow me right in! We’ve actually taken pictures of it b/c it makes me giggle too. I should post them on facebook sometime!

      And I LOVE the Red Cross Solar Link FR360. Great option. Otherwise, you sound very well prepared in this area!

  20. I think for what we “pay” you, you should be able to take what ever time off you want (even to watch a show) with out feeling any guilt at ALL! Love your website and I will appreciate any time you take to share thing with us!

    • Thanks, but many of you do pay me (like you) when you purchase from me. I like to be as consistent as possible. But, I really appreciate all the kind comments. I’m so glad you like the site and appreciate your kindness!

  21. We have a whistle but are working to purchase two way radios and a bigger radio that has hand cranking ability to charge itself and cell phones, etc. What to do if all electronics are knocked out?


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