Usefulness of GMRS in an emergency

Joined
Sep 10, 2018
Messages
1
#1
Why would you even think of operating on GMRS without a license? A license is about $1 a month.
I bought my wife a GMRS radio for her car.
She travels a rural stretch of northern New Hampshire road to get to and from work.
Often at night she's coming home after 11 PM.
No cell service out there for miles.
If something happens, what's she to do?
So I bought the radio.
I see $70 for a license as a waste of money because the radio may never get used.

Would there be an issue to use the radio unlicensed in the event of an emergency that sends her car off the side of the road at midnight in a snowstorm that might dump anywhere between one three feet of snow???

The radio will NEVER get used otherwise so gimme a break.
 

SteveSimpkin

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Apr 13, 2009
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Location
Lancaster, CA
#2
I bought my wife a GMRS radio for her car.
She travels a rural stretch of northern New Hampshire road to get to and from work.
Often at night she's coming home after 11 PM.
No cell service out there for miles.
If something happens, what's she to do?
So I bought the radio.
I see $70 for a license as a waste of money because the radio may never get used.

Would there be an issue to use the radio unlicensed in the event of an emergency that sends her car off the side of the road at midnight in a snowstorm that might dump anywhere between one three feet of snow???

The radio will NEVER get used otherwise so gimme a break.
Unless there is a GMRS repeater that is in range of her while she is driving on her route *AND* you are also listening to it when she is on her drive, the odds of getting help with a GMRS radio is very unlikely. You would be much better off investing in a satellite phone or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or a satellite messenger.
https://www.greenbelly.co/pages/best-personal-locator-beacons-satellite-messengers
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Messages
813
#3
As Steve said.

GMRS makes a lousy choice in those areas. Unless the wife hears nearly constant jabber on the radio over her whole route...there's no reason to expect she'd get emergency aid.

In fact, license-free CB might be a better choice if there's commercial traffic on any of those roads.

Whereas the odds of getting help with a Big Red Button (EPIRB, PLS, Spot Messenger, InReach, any of them) nationally are pretty damn near 100%. And, they'll all keep working, even if she slides into a tree and the vehicle power is shut down. (A lot of newer cars shut down many power systems after an impact, even if the battery hasn't been hit, fwiw.)

Anywhere, any time.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Messages
2,747
#4
Probably she would be better off with unlicensed 5 watt 27 MHz CB with NMO mount antenna.

I am guessing you bought one of those cheap Midland GMRS radios that have only narrow band operation making them but a whisper to high power GMRS radios. They might hear you and the again, maybe not.

GMRS is a licensed high performance radio service. If you intend to use it, you should have the license which is good for ten years. It is a disservice to those who build and operate repeaters to be using GMRS without a license.

Eventually the FCC is going to see a decline in licenses and they will turn GMRS into low power FRS. They are halfway there.

If you live in Australia or Canada they have no license requirement and thus no high power operations. Canada has no repeaters, and low power only. Australia requires a special license for a repeater and the power is very restricted. They have a bunch of channels, but work only line of sight with 5 watts.

Please if you are going to play the GMRS game, buy the silly 10 year license, it is just a couple pennies a day. You can afford a couple pennies a day can't you? Your entire family will be covered, even uncle Buck.

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Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Messages
813
#5
I'm all in favor of licensing when appropriate, but really?

The FCC themselves have made it abundantly clear that their primary concern is safety of life. In the case of a bona fide emergency, they don't give a damn about licenses, use what you can find.

Key word being "emergency". Use a radio improperly because you are seriously inconvenienced, and you'll still be fined.

But perhaps more importantly, again, GMRS usually is just not a great tool for that job. Arguably could even be a poor tool, and a rude surprise for that job.

Hitting a Big Red Button may still take a couple of hours for a response--but at least you know there's a full time SAR/SAT system listening for your call, and trained in how to dispatch responders.
 
Joined
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#6
I agree.
You are doing your wife a disservice if you have suggested she can get help in an emergency via GMRS. On a rural road at 11pm, as you stated, you are going to have trouble reaching a live person. Too many channels, too many people running CTCSS/DCS, too little range.

There are better solutions if you are concerned about her safety. A false sense of security can be dangerous sometimes.


As for the license, I don't think anyone really cares. I hope you didn't sign up and create an account solely for the purpose of posting that. Yeah, ideally, get a license, but if it's a 2 watt disposable radio in a rural area, in an emergency, most of us have bigger concerns. Under the FCC rules, unless you are trying to hit a repeater, you don't need a license anyway.
 

krokus

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
3,581
Location
Southeastern Michigan
#7
I bought my wife a GMRS radio for her car.
She travels a rural stretch of northern New Hampshire road to get to and from work.
Often at night she's coming home after 11 PM.
No cell service out there for miles.
If something happens, what's she to do?
So I bought the radio.
I see $70 for a license as a waste of money because the radio may never get used.

Would there be an issue to use the radio unlicensed in the event of an emergency that sends her car off the side of the road at midnight in a snowstorm that might dump anywhere between one three feet of snow???

The radio will NEVER get used otherwise so gimme a break.
The likelihood of that radio working, when it is just stuffed in a glove box, or wherever, is rather low. Even if that part were not a factor, why risk a multi-thousand dollar possibility over less than a hundred dollars?

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