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.
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.
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!
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.