A communication plan should be created before radios are needed. In case immediate family members are separated when an emergency arrives, each member must know what to do and where to meet in case communications are lost. Have a primary plan and contingency plans.
Communications During An Emergency A short article about home telephones, cell phones, FRS radios and HAM radio. Home phones and cell phones are the most vulnerable during an emergency. FRS and HAM radios will be working long after other electronic devices have failed.
A wealth of information, educational material and more can be found at the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website. Founded in 1914, The ARRL is the national association for Amateur Radio in the USA. Membership in the ARRL is not required for Amateur Radio operators.
New Amateur Radio licenses, in order of increasing privileges, are the Technician, General and Extra. No new licenses are being issued for the Novice or Advanced class of license.
Amateur radio has a history of providing communications during many emergencies. Some Hams routinely train to efficiently handle emergency traffic. Communication may be point to point, or may be relayed through a repeater (point-repeater-point) for extended range. Repeaters can be located almost anywhere including a mountain top or earth satellite. The more elevated the repeater, the greater the range. Here in central Virginia the 147.075 MHz repeater on Afton mountain provides extensive coverage on both sides of the Blue Ridge mountains.
Small hand held transceivers (HT) and base/mobile radios offer relatively noise free and clear communications on the popular 144 MHz (2 meters), 220 MHz (1.25 meters) and 440 MHz bands (70 centimeters). The entry level Technician license grants privileges to operate on these frequency bands and more. There is no longer a requirement to learn Morse code for any class of license.
Handheld transceivers are popular as first radios for newcomers to Amateur Radio. The HTs can be used stand alone, or in a vehicle, or at home. Connecting an HT to an elevated external antenna can dramatically increase signal strength and range. Some HTs are designed for use on a single frequency band. More expensive HTs are designed for use on more than one frequency band. Kenwood, ICOM, Yaesu and Alinco are top brand names for modern HTs.
Owner reviews of many HT are here.
The No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Stiudy Guide by Dan Romanchik KB6NU
A question and answer pool is maintained by a group of volunteer examiner coordinators (VEC). The questions used for the exam are taken from that pool. A score of 75% is a passing grade. Practice exams, with questions taken from that Q&A pool, are available at:
Passed the tests? Find out when you can operate using your new privileges here.
Suggestions of how to prepare and use Amateur Radio during a emergency are available at Emergency Preparedness, Simplex Operations, Procedures and Equipment.
- Morse Code Translator (Code tests have been eliminated, but you can learn Morse code here.)
- ARRL chart of Amateur Radio Frequencies
Alternative power for cell phones