A CB Radio for Survival Communication?

Calamity has struck, and you need to talk to your friend Jerry who lives a couple miles away. There’s no electricity for miles around. Cell phone service is out. Regular phone service is questionable at best. What few radio stations are left on the air are repetitiously droning outdated information.

You remember Jerry suggesting at one point that you each should have a portable CB radio you could operate on battery power. In fact, he suggested using solar charged batteries. The idea seemed pretty weird at the time. Nothing like this could ever happen, you thought. Surely, someone will be along to fix things. But the nightmare goes on. It’s been days, and there’s no relief in sight.

It’s all coming back to you now as you sit swatting flies away. You remember Jerry describing such a CB radio he saw on the Internet. What was the brand name? Something about a snake?…Oh, yes! It was a Cobra HHROADTRIP 40-Channel CB Radio. It wasn’t just for Citizens Band reception either. It had complete access to 10 National Weather Channels (7 NOAA and 3 International) for the latest weather information. That would have been helpful to have.

Jerry seemed pretty excited about this handheld radio for a while, but you were the proverbial wet blanket. Why didn’t he buy one anyway and try it out? Why didn’t you buy one? The Cobra HHROADTRIP 40-Channel CB Radio would have given you 40-channel communication. This handheld CB radio would have been ready to travel anywhere. You could have been talking with Jerry right now with the radio’s four-mile range from its 4 watts of power. That’s all you would have needed. Jerry said it was easy to operate, too. Even his 73-year-old technology challenged uncle had no trouble operating his.

Jerry said you should have gotten CB radios for that last camping trip. You wouldn’t have had to use full power at close range. The Cobra HHROADTRIP 40-Channel CB Radio has a High/low power switch that reduces power consumption, which would have extended battery life during those times when high power isn’t needed. Jerry thought it was neat that the radio operates on nine AA batteries, either alkaline or rechargeables. Of course, it would have also worked off your car or truck battery through the supplied DC cord with the cigarette-lighter plug. No problem about an antenna either, since it would have had an included magnet-mount antenna to ensure maximum range. Heck, it was even modestly priced, too.

Awful smells are wafting in from every direction as you sit pondering. You wish you could talk to Jerry. It’s not safe just now to leave the house. Your shotgun lies across your lap. Are any authorities or relief workers ever coming? You realize that any trucks still on the road and using CB radios would have perhaps given valuable information, but you can’t even listen in now. What were you thinking?

Were you afraid of being laughed at? Maybe that’s it. You didn’t want your cousin Steve to accuse you of being nostalgic for the 1970’s, back when CB radio was some kind of silly craze. Or maybe it was Frank at work who said the only way to go in emergencies is ham radio. He said you’re just playing games if you’re not licensed and can behave as a professional emergency communicator. Jerry said to do whatever works. He tried to convince you that all those communications rules about licenses are out the window if things really go to hell anyway. Now you’ll never know.

Yes, you were the wet blanket, but Jerry didn’t push the issue either. You weren’t about to tell Jerry this, but you even sneaked a peek at a blog once that had a link to the Cobra HHROADTRIP 40-Channel CB Radio you could click to see the info he told you about. It took you to a page where it was so easy to order, too. Still, you didn’t do it. Why not? If only you could now.


Rechargeable Batteries are a Must for Your Survival Supplies

I’m a firm believer in having plenty of rechargeable batteries on hand. They ought to be an important part of your survival supplies. Many electronic devices, such as cameras, radios, and CD players, still use AAA and AA size batteries, and some larger items require C or D cells.

Rechargeable batteries have come a long way over the years. The nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are better than the NiCad batteries so many of us have used over the years, and they’re improving all the time with more storage capacity for powering devices longer.

In fact, they’re comparable to alkaline batteries these days, and that didn’t used to be the case with rechargeables. The prices are economical, especially when you consider they can be used hundreds of times. They cost a small fraction of what you’d spend on hundreds of sets of alkaline batteries.

Stock up on the batteries you need now and for the future. Get plenty for your survival kits because you never know when you’ll need to have rechargeable batteries on hand.


Prepping with Your Family–Part 5

I’m doing the post in this series a day early this week, just in case you’re able to do some of these activities with your family over the three day weekend.

As with all of the other suggestions in this series, they’re meant to be done with the whole family. Don’t feel overwhelmed. You don’t have to do all of these at once. Try one or two each weekend over the summer.

How long has it been since you put your bug out bags together? If it’s been a few months, it’s a good idea to dump out everyone’s bags then repack them. Make sure the clothes still fit, especially for growing children.

Test batteries to see if they’re still good. If not, replace them. If they’re somewhat low, use them up in other things around the house, such as radios, toys, and such.

Check food items to see if they’re still edible. You shouldn’t have to worry about long term storage items, unless it’s really, really been a long time since you’ve looked things over.

In fact, check for anything that’s outdated and replace it. You might even think of something else to include that you don’t have in your bags already.

Buy, rent, or borrow an item and take a day to teach the whole family how to use it. items may include a compass, metal detector, GPS, and so on.

When you think about it, there’s always something new to learn or discover when you’re making survival preparations and acquiring new skills. Each new experience can be its own little adventure.

Think back to your younger days and help your kids build a fort in the back woods, the back yard, or even in their bedroom. Put up a makeshift tent for shelter.

For that matter, if you have camping tents, take time to get reacquainted with how to put them up. Then, why not camp out in the yard overnight?

That leads into this next one, though you don’t already have to be camped out to do it. Make a campfire, tell stories, and make S’mores. This should teach a number of lessons, such as how to make a fire, how to share information through story telling, and how to cook over a fire. This would be a good time to put your Dutch oven to good use.

Put together a communications plan and test it out. The first thing you’ll want to do is determine what methods you would use. You may want to experiment with several ways to communicate, such as cell phones, walkie talkies, Family Radio Service handheld radios, CB, or even get amateur radio licenses for each of you.

What if the Internet is down or electricity is out? You might need to use a runner to connect through various emergency contacts to relay messages. Think of different scenarios and consider what you’d have to do to keep in touch with one another or with family and friends. When you’ve chosen a method to try one weekend, put people in different locations to test it out.

That’s enough to chew on for now. Survival situations offer their own tests.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday weekend.


Click here for Part 6.


Find more practical family preparedness tips in the Kindle booklet Prepping With Your Family.


Survival in a World with Less Privacy

            “Sam, is there any way to warn my teenaged niece about not giving out too much information about herself on Facebook?” asked Duane.


            Survival Sam took a sip of coffee.  “You can try, but I doubt if you’ll get very far.”


            “That’s not helpful,” Duane frowned.


            “You could tell her,” said Sam, “that anything posted on Facebook is legally theirs.  They own it and can do with it as they please.  Photos and posts can have potential audiences of several hundred thousand people.  Many magazines and newspapers covet such numbers.  You could ask your niece if she wants so much personal information to go to that many unknowns, though it won’t likely mean anything to her.”


            “It scares the heck out of me,” said Duane.  “Why don’t you think it will mean anything to her.”


            “Young people who have grown up with online technology don’t fully understand the technology, its outreach, or the implications involved.  They don’t have sense enough to care about such things.  They’re used to putting information out there presumably to a certain network or niche.  They think only certain people are going to be looking, but as I said, there may be hundreds of thousands looking on.”


            “How much privacy can we really have these days anyway?” I asked.


            “First,” Sam said, “privacy doesn’t mean what it used to.  To most people these days, privacy no longer means being left alone, but controlling the information that’s out there.  Obviously, on social sharing sites and so many other areas of life today, the control we thinkwe have just doesn’t exist.”


            “I remember a financial guy on the radio several years ago,” said Duane, “saying that he could practically figure out your life story just by having your Social Security number.  I’m sure things haven’t gotten any safer or more secure for us today.  It’s amazing what someone can find out with just a few key strokes.”


            “I heard a man once say you shouldn’t put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t put on a postcard,” I said.  “I’ll bet postal workers learned plenty of juicy tidbits by reading postcards before e-mail became so dominant.”


            “Could be,” said Sam.  “I’ve never asked a mailman to reveal gossip.  What I do know is that e-mails and other online communications can potentially be monitored.  Whether they actually are in each individual’s case is another matter, but no one has the certainty that they’re not being monitored.  These days it may be safest to assume they are, and then write what you have to say accordingly.”


            “Nobody can monitor them all, can they?” I asked.


            “Some human being has to go through and find key words computers might be looking for,” said Sam.  “Fortunately, the Internet is still a relatively difficult place to control and censor.  However, be aware that Internet service providers and phone companies have clauses written into the user agreement you have with them that permits them to turn over any potentially incriminating information to the government.  By signing on with these companies, you implicitly agree, whether you know it or not, or whether you like it or not, that it’s OK with you if your communications are monitored.  You can’t get out of such agreements unless you stop all phone and Internet service ties with these companies.”


            “Never mind my niece keeping her privacy,” said Duane.  “You’re painting a bleak picture for all of us.”


            “Oh, that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface regarding loss of privacy,” Sam said.  “For example, if you pay for your groceries with a debit or credit card, that purchase is most certainly traceable.  If you have a loyalty card from the store, you can be sure someone is gathering information about your buying habits.  You can pay with cash and make it more difficult to track your purchases, but your face is probably on at least one surveillance camera in the store.  If you make a larger purchase than usual, or if you pay more on your credit card bill than usual, the banks notice it and may question you about it.”


            “That could work in my favor,” said Duane, “if someone’s trying to steal my identity and make unauthorized purchases on my card.”


            “Ah, yes,” Sam said, “but just be aware that irregularities do get noticed.  I’m no expert on cleaning up problems caused by identity theft, but you should make it a habit of checking your credit reports regularly to see if anything is going on that shouldn’t be.  It’s the law now that you can get a report from each of the three credit bureaus without charge once a year.”


            “True,” said Duane, “but if you avoid credit cards and make more purchases with cash and start flashing wads of it around, someone may wonder if you’re a drug dealer.”


            “It sounds like a no-win situation,” I said.


            “I think the bottom line,” said Sam, “is to be aware of the world we live in, and be wary.  Be on the alert.  Walk circumspectly.”


Click here to discover how to get tips for urban survival.

What About A Radio for Survival?

It had been nagging me for a while. When I called Survival Sam, as always, he had an answer.

“Sam,” I said, ‘there’s one thing we haven’t discussed regarding survival. What if things get really chaotic and we need news of what’s happening?”

“Great question,” Sam said. “It’s time we talked a little about survival communications. Since you asked about news, we’ll keep our focus on receiving information. Then later we can tackle the issue of communicating person to person.”

“I assume you have thoughts to share?”

“Of course,” said Sam. “In a basic situation, such as a winter storm, a radio’s a must when power goes out. Of course, if we have a national emergency of some kind, martial law, or whatever, we’ll need access to information. Who knows whether we’ll have access to TV, the Internet, or even electricity? No one knows the extent of the chaos we might experience, but I suggest having a good radio on hand, preferably one that can pick up shortwave.”

“I know that shortwave isn’t the same as ham radio, so why do you recommend it in a survival situation?” I asked.

“While an AM-FM radio may be good for local media coverage—and that’s often questionable these days—there may be news on shortwave that can’t be heard either locally or nationally.”

“Well,” I said, “now you’ve got me wondering about how useful an AM-FM radio is.”

“It’s essential these days to have one,” Sam said. “My concern is that the practice of big media companies gobbling up so many radio and TV stations has all but hollowed out local news staffs. Have you noticed when there’s severe weather that you hear the same content broadcast on half a dozen stations? Not many years ago those stations were separate and had their own news and weather coverage, though quality may have varied. At least you, the listener, had a choice. Now, if there’s a regional or national situation, we’ll get less diversity in what and how the story is covered. Having said all that though, I still recommend a radio for AM and FM.”

“OK,” I said, “but what about shortwave?””

Years ago a man tried to discourage me from listening to shortwave,” said Sam. “He said it was hard to find English language programming, and you had to be listening at just the right time and on just the right frequency. Then there could be fading or interference, such as what we hear at night when we listen to distant AM stations. It’s different than what we’re used to from our local stations. I’ve listened to shortwave a great deal over the years, in spite of this man’s negative comments, and I’ve gained a great deal of perspective not available elsewhere. Sadly, there aren’t as many English speaking overseas stations as in recent years, but there are several commercial shortwave stations here in the U.S. that carry programs you simply don’t get on local media. One has to be discerning, of course, but the Alex Jones program is broadcast on shortwave.”

“But now we’ve got satellite and Internet radio,” I said, “so what’s the appeal of shortwave?”

“Remember,” said Sam, “we’re talking about a potentially extreme situation, where we might not have access to local media, let alone satellite channels or the Internet. Listening to an AM station 50 to 100 miles away could be helpful if local stations are off the air. You want more than a $10 pocket radio in such a situation. On the other hand, let’s say we have another 9-11 type of incident. Even if you can hear every station in your area, how reliable do you think the coverage will be? Do you think we’ll get the full truth? I hope Alex Jones and those like him will still be on the air. If not–this may sound strange–but what if we have to listen to Radio Havana Cuba or China Radio International for perspective?”

“Aren’t shortwave radios expensive and hard to get?”

“Not at all,” said Sam. “Prices vary, but a good shortwave radio can be had these days starting as little as $50. I was delighted to discover that several of the companies in your Prep Mart carry various kinds of emergency radios.”

“That’s right.” I said.

“Many nowadays are wind up radios, and some are solar powered. Most operate from conventional power sources, like battery and AC. Most receive AM, FM, and either weather bands or shortwave.”

“That sounds pretty good,” I said.

“That’s not all,” Sam said. “More radios are made with survival situations in mind. Some have a built-in LED flashlight, which is a great feature in emergencies, and some even have a cell phone charger.”

“That’s a lot to pack into a radio,” I said.

“It’s a good idea to have convenient portable radios on hand. They’re definitely worth having in a survival kit. Have an extra one or two in strategic places around the house. You never know when you’ll need a good radio for survival.”