When an emergency happens, you want to be able to communicate with loved ones and keep up-to-date with what’s going on. The problem with emergencies is they make it hard to do both of these things. We’re going to cover the basics so you can communicate in an emergency.
Two Communications Problems You Need to Solve in an Emergency
Most of the emergencies we would prepare for have a potential to REALLY disrupt communications. These days, most of our communications happen on our cell phones. If an emergency impacts the power grid or other infrastructure, then our cell phones can stop working. Even if we keep our cell phones charged at 100%, when the backup generator on the cell phone tower runs out of gas, we are stuck playing whatever offline games we were smart enough to download. Imagine your phone, but without the whole phone part. Or the internet or texts or any app that uses cellular or wifi data. You’re going to need a new way to communicate with people.
Similarly, many of us like to get our news updates on the television. When the internet is out, the cable is probably out. If you’re on satellite TV, and if you can keep your TV and dish powered, then you can still stay looped in. As long as the broadcasters are broadcasting. Streaming? Fughetaboutit. That’s gone when the internet goes down. You’re going to need a new way to get information in an emergency.
Getting Started with Basic Emergency Communications
This is a series on BASIC Emergency Preparedness. When we cover the Advanced topics, we’ll get into things like HAM, CB, MURS, FRS, Semaphore, More Code, etc. at that time. For now, just the basics:
- I cannot stress enough the importance of an emergency plan. An emergency plan should tell your loved ones where you’ll be, where you’ll go, and how you’ll try to get in touch. It should include a call tree. See this link for the Preppermill Emergency Plan Example.
- Use your cell phone as long as it will work. The best plan is to get your chicks in the nest before the grid shuts down. So call, text, email, etc. Leave messages. Tell your kids to look at email, voicemail, and texts. If you all use Instagram or Facebook, then make sure you all know to check those in an emergency. I don’t know about you, but if something is happening, my FIRST priority is to get my family together and safe. Use your time wisely.
- Similarly, use the internet / phone / whatever while it works to find out WHAT IS GOING ON – where should you go? Where is it safe? How long is it going to last? Is help on the way?
- Get used to the idea of paper and pencils. If you’re driving around looking for your son or daughter, and don’t find them at the BFF’s house, then you’re going to want to leave a note. “Sally, this is your Dad. If you find this, meet us at Grandma’s house. The address is…” or “Stay here. I will be back tomorrow to see if you are here.”
Featured Image: U.S. Navy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons