Radios for emergencies?

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Nap

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Guys I'm thinking about stuff like prolonged power outages, tornadoes, ice storms and similar situation when you have no power and your cell/phone doesn't work either. Short of smoke signals, I can see that I could legally own and operate one of the following (battery powered portables):

- 2m/70cm amateur transceiver (after getting a license of course)
- portable CB radio
- FRS/GMRS radio

In your opinion, which of the above is offering most chances of contacting someone that could really help you if you're in an emergency situation?

Nap.
 

troymail

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All of them would allow the ability to reach someone - some better than others - however it is questionable whether any of them would allow you to reach someone who could help you in an emergency.... Best without a license is probably CB and with a license is a HAM radio.... the latter is likely to reach further (assuming the repeaters are up) and are also more likely to reach someone is is willing/capable of offering some type of assistance.

Of course, we all have opinions....and this is just mine.
 

Nap

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I'm thinking about "assistance" in the sense that (s)he could contact the authorities for you and relay a message from your part.

I'm afraid that FRS would get only to the kids around and they wouldn't know what to do.

Amateur and CB are most likely to reach to adults.

So.... which one... do I have any chance of getting helped by a trucker with CB radio.... or are the amateurs the best bet... or is anyone else using FRS apart from kids...

Thanks,
Nap
 

WA1ATA

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HF ham radio is the one link that is likely to get you contact with someone outside a large disaster area such as from a hurricane or an widespread grid failure. Of course, that person can do little to help you other than notify others of your health and welfare status.

Step one in answering your question is to figure out who you would like to contact. Does your local government monitor CB? Will they have 2 meter or 70cm ham/RACES links? See RACES Links . You can probably call up your local guys and get their opinion.

When all is said and done though, in a lot of cases you and your neighbors will end up fending for themselves for a while and your first focus should be to become as self reliant as possible.
 

unlisted

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FRS/GMRS radios should be out of the question- even though they "claim" long 30km + ranges- good luck getting a km in a urban environment with them..

I'd say HAM radio first, and CB second for actually reaching someone. (CB is really hit and miss for any chatter in my area)

I also agree with WA1ATA - work on becoming self reliant- for at least 72 hours. (what the Fed. Gov't recommends) www.getprepared.gc.ca
 

dbsar

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NAP, you need to consider your transmit and receive locations as well. Do you live in the city, or country, at an elevated location or down in a gully? Do you live close to an interstate highway system (CB) or within the footprint of an amateur radio repeater? Are there any major obstructions between you and your intended contact?

If you have an amateur radio club nearby, attend one of their meetings and they will have info for you. And if they offer classes to get your license, sign up. Even if you opt for CB or FRS, the knowledge you gain from the class will carry over to those systems too.

My opinion, go ham.
 

FoeHammer

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I have all of them ,...Ham radio provides the most power & options 2 meters /70cm is only as good as the repeaters , if they stay up,.. , if you wish to stay mobile a roll up antenna you can throw in a tree might help
shortwave has very far reach but requires a somewhat more elaborate setup & larger antenna
I find cb useless where I am , there is so much intereference & problem people on it I dont even bother ,...
The Nicer Frs/Gmrs radios we use at work & at home & I have been quite surprised with performance
If you can get elevated with one like in a building near a window , rooftop , hill , up in tree ,..or open space like out on a lake you can get surprising range , while I would prefer something like ham radio first
I would also pack along FRS/GMRS because they are so cheap , it gives you another option,..
they will work well & be easy to use in your own group , normally the range is line of sight , but under some conditions that can be quite far , its another option & its something alot of people out ther might have also
 

Nap

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Hi All,

And thank you for your replies.

I live at the southern limit of Kitchener city, on top of a small hill that is 2-3 km north of Highway 401. I have direct line of sight to the highway, and I can hear occasional CB traffic with an Icom R-20 (mostly on channels 16 and 19). In addition to the Icom I have a Sangean CL-100 weather radio that I bought right after the Goderich tornado (last month). Works great, the local weather channel (7) is loud, clear and free of static, there was a Severe Thunderstorm Warning two weeks ago and all the alerts worked as expected.

There's nothing on FRS/GMRS around me except rarely some kids riding bicycles.

As suggested I've looked for the web site of the local amateurs, they're affiliated to ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service), have repeaters and stuff and prepared for emergency communications assistance.

I currently have nothing capable of transmitting (apart the cellphone), I guess I should just start learning and get an amateur license and save the money for a handheld 2m/70cm transceiver. Learning something new can't hurt, and even if I'll never have to use the radio for emergencies (keeping my fingers crossed), at least I could have some fun with the local hams?

Thanks,
Nap.
 

WA1ATA

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It seems to me that the real question is "What will the people I wish to contact be monitoring, if anything?"

If the local PD/Fire/EMS isn't monitoring your chosen radio, then it is pretty useless for the purpose the original poster described: "which of the above is offering most chances of contacting someone that could really help you if you're in an emergency situation?"

This isn't a "radio" question. It is a question of what your local authorities use for communications with the public during emergencies. A call to the local emergency management folks is my suggestion. Or to the local ham/RACES/Skywarn group if your area has one.
 

chubby4a

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Amateur Radio would be your first choice as some Ham repeaters operate on emergency power when the crap hits the fan. CB is out of the question as the amount of idiots on the airwaves make it useless. GMRS is your second choice. More and more businesses and industries are dropping expensive commercial handheld radios in favour of cheaper GMRS for communications. So if GMRS is all you have, you still have a chance of contacting someone. There is a drive to try to get everyone to designate GMRS channel 1as an emergency contact channel.
 

exkalibur

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I would stick with Amateur. Around your area, the K/W Emergency Operations Center has ham radios that are used for emergency communications. If you're putting together an "uh oh" kit...throwing in a hand-held CB and FRS wouldn't hurt. But I'd rely on the ham rig to get you official help.
 

Nap

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Guys I'm happy to report that I started learning for the amateur license exam. Thank you for your input.

I'm eying the Kenwood TH-D72A, would that be a good choice for my purpose. I'm thinking about the integrated GPS and APRS position reporting ability.

Thanks,
Nap.
 
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