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 have two way radios and whistles. I have been looking for a crank/solar radio that has all the extras I want. I never thought about a mirror, so I will add that as well.

  2. We have a large lamp/hand crank NOAA/radio for the house and camper, a small hand crank/solar power NOAA/radio for the BOB. Everyone has whistles and mirrors. We have two sets of walkie talkies down at our bug out location for keeping in contact on the property. The phone relay may work but would be better if you texted instead of called since it takes a smaller band width and text can get through when voice can not. Also we have set up a family e-mail account that anyone in the family can go online and access. Here we can leave each other messages and instructions. It is also one of the e-mails we use for survival only info to come in like certain newsletters etc to make it easy to keep and share with in the whole family.

  3. We were just on a cruise and didn’t have access to cell phones. Wow, what an adjustment to not be in constant contact with each other. We need to invest in some two way radios. I also need a good crank radio and would love a solar charger for our phones. I saw a You Tube video on how to make a hand crank charger for our phones. We do have whistles and mirrors in each kit.

  4. We were also home during the blackout in Southern California and it was very comforting knowing that I had a good start on my emergency supplies. However, in all of my preparations, I completely forgot a good radio! We found an old CD player/radio that worked in a pinch. That same week I ordered an AM/FM NOAA solar/crank/batteries/AC radio/flashlight/charger.

    We have one set of two-way radios and a CB radio, but I’d like to add another set of two-way radios. I also purchased a solar battery charger to keep all those batteries charged and in good working order.

    On my list to purchase is a small folding solar charger for the phones and plugins. I want to be able to charge all of our phones, as well as any neighbors’ phones, in the case of an extended power outage.

  5. Haha, I didn’t even notice that you skipped a week! I commented last week without even looking at the dates. Oops! Like I said, we have whistles, but we hope to add radios on the next time around.

    Praying for some peace and rest for you; stress is good in small doses, but sometimes we just need a little break.

  6. We have whistles for each person in the family. I also have a hand-crank radio, mirror and flares.

    I do need to save up for two-way radios, though. That’s on the list for this year!

  7. A two way radio was on my list for Christmas but we couldn’t afford it, so for now just our phones,and whistles. We do have a solar charger for our phones, and a sharpie in case we needed to leave a message for each other on something permenant

    • Unfortunately we won’t be adding anything for a few weeks as this week we added a tetnis shot and crutches because of toys left on the floor. But it got me thinking. That a tetnis shot could be s good thing to keep up to date on before you need it, just in case you couldn’t get to a hospital for a while and needed it.

  8. We have 2 way radios and whistles…we are planning on adding an AM/FM NOAA crank radio. I have also added whistles to the adult kits to just in case the batteries die or the radios quite working.

  9. We definitely need to add the two way radios to our kits. We have crank radios and whistles already but since my hubby and I work 17 miles apart we would definitely feel better with the 2 ways in our kits. We also have a solar charger for our cell phones and various other small electronics. Love it! Thanks for the tips.

  10. We have a hand crank radio, scanner and whistles. I am going to get our two radios out and see how far they reach. Thanks for all your posts. I am sure your house will look terrific. Can’t wait to see some pics.

  11. We have the whistles and only one mirror. Need to get everyone a signal mirror and some NOAA/solar/hand cranked radios. I would also love to get two sets of two way radios.

  12. I’ll definitely be adding some solar/crank radios/walkies to our main kit. Also some whistles to the kids’ kits! Do you think it would be good to attach a lanyard to them for the kids?

  13. We have the mirrors and whistles. We also have a red cross radio that runs on crank, battery or solar and will also recharge our cell phones. We don’t have flares, but do have the glow sticks. I would really like to get some two way long range radios sometime, but haven’t found any that were economical and good quality yet. Thanks for the reminder!

  14. First time visitor and grateful to have found this resource. Thank you for all your hard work that I’m sure many will benefit from.

  15. In the interest of reduce, reuse, and recycle, I’ll be reusing the flashlight/whistle combos we bought for my son’s Halloween outfit (Buzz Lightyear!) We have three different colors for each of us, but my task will be to get new batteries for them all so they can flash/glow properly. I love the idea of having mirrors, so in the kits they will go! I have a crank radio that will have to suffice until the next go around in six months, unless I find a good deal on two way radios at a thrift store :)

  16. Right now we have two whistles in our bag, which each of us will wear during an emergency. we also have a mirror. Hopefully, on the next time around, we will be able to add a crank radio.

  17. I was bummed when I didn’t see your email this week in my inbox. But I do see that the date on your post is January 30th 2012 instead of 2013. Maybe that is why I didn’t get it. But I also noticed you have only had one person comment this week. You may want to update the date so everyone can benefit from this wonderful post. Thanks!

    We still need to get som NOAA radios.

  18. We have a radio, but I’m going to add mirrors and whistles to our kits. Also, the tip about communicating through your mother is great! My mother-in-law lives in IL, so my husband and I could communicate through her if we ever found ourselves in that situation. Great tip to remember!

  19. I have a couple hand crank radios but they don’t have NOAA. We also have whistles and I have a signal mirror in my pack. I need to get some radios with the NOAA with solar capabilities.

  20. I have been reading over all the weeks (I just started last week) trying to figure out what I already had on hand. I commented already today but just curious, what are we supposed to use flares for and how are we gonna carry all this stuff if we have to leave our homes? I am not trying to be negative, just want to get the best way possible to carry it all especially if we have to leave with no vehicles.

  21. I got my whistles but need to get some flares. I already had two-way radios that have NOAA on them. Going to try to find something that will solar charge batteries and/or itself. Thanks for the ideas!

  22. We have a hand crank am/fm radio/lantern. We can get the local radio station on it. We also have a battery powered clock radio. We did have walkies but they weren’t very good and we want to get a pair of quality walkies. We have a whistle in every first aid kit. I have wanted to get a weather raido for awhile now. Anything solar powered is great!
    By the way, I have not been able to see the guest post about spices. It gives me an error message.

  23. I just stumbled across your blog today while looking for Burn Book tips- you’ve inspired me to get moving on our 72 hour kit. We don’t own a battery
    Powered radio at all (maybe 1 alarm clock radio…) so I think my first step is to get a backpack and a wind up radio.


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