Continuity of communications is critical after an emergency, especially in a grid down or SHTF scenario.
The issue is that modern communication systems are often tied to the grid, meaning that when the grid fails, our ability to maintain effective communication will fail along with it.
Amateur Radio, commonly referred to as ham radio, is an effective way to communicate over short distances or to the opposite side of the globe.
To use Amateur Radio, you must first become licensed. Each country that licenses Amateur Radio operators will have rules and regulations set out regarding testing, privileges, and licensing.
For the purposes of this article, I will be discussing the procedures to become a licensed ham radio operator in the United States.
Why Get Licensed?
I have been a licensed Amateur Radio operator for only a couple of years, and in that time, I discovered that buying a radio is not nearly enough. To effectively use Amateur Radio equipment after a disaster, practice is essential. All the ‘bugs,’ so to speak, must be worked out before depending on them in a life or death scenario.
The only way to practice and dial in your equipment legally, before disaster strikes, is to become a licensed Amateur Radio operator.
The United States has three classes of Amateur Radio license, each with its own unique set of privileges. The level you decide to test for will depend on your situation and the scenarios you are preparing for.
These licenses are valid for ten years before they need to be renewed. There is also a two-year grace period where if your license expires, you can renew it without retesting.
The Three Classes Of Amateur Radio Licensing In The United States Are:
Technician: The Technician class is the lowest and least privileged level. To obtain a Technician class license, you must pass a 35-question test by getting at least 26 questions correct.
As a Technician, you have access to all the VHF/UHF Amateur Radio bands and limited privileges to specific frequency spaces and modes in the HF bands.
General: The General class license is the next level and grants anyone holding a General license broad access to all the Amateur Radio bands except specific frequency spaces reserved for those holding an Extra class license.
Related: Quick and Easy Cheat Sheet to Learn How to Operate a Ham Radio
To obtain the General license, you must first obtain a Technician license and then pass the 35-question General class license test by answering at least 26 questions correctly.
Extra: The Extra class is the pinnacle of the amateur radio licensing spectrum in the United States. Once you have obtained an Extra class license, you are granted access to the entire spectrum of Amateur Radio bands.
To become an Extra class Amateur Radio operator, you must successfully pass a 50-question test by answering 37 or more questions correctly.
What License Should I Get?
Suppose your goal is to build a robust comms plan for your preparedness in a disaster.
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In that case, I suggest you obtain a General Class license. It grants you broad access to large swaths of the frequency spectrum.
In addition, it will allow you to establish amateur radio stations capable of worldwide communications.
However, this does mean that you will need to pass two tests, but the good news is that you can take these tests back to back in one sitting.
If you find the ham radio hobby appealing, you may want to upgrade to the Extra class, but it is not necessary from an off-grid or prepping standpoint.
Preparing For The Test
We live in the golden age of ham radio, and anyone wanting to get licensed has a massive number of resources available to study for any level of testing.
Generally speaking, there are two ways to go when preparing for the test. You can either find a course which would often be run by a local ham radio club, or you can self-study.
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) has many resources to help you start your self-study journey, but it is far from the only option.
Websites, podcasts, YouTube Channels, Apps, books, etc., are available to you in your quest to become a licensed Amateur Radio operator.
One of the best ways I have found to study is to take practice tests and then use all your wrong answers as a guide for areas that you need to study.
For example, I would use an app to take randomly generated practice tests from the question pool, which helped me focus my studies on areas where my knowledge was weak.
You will be tested by volunteer examiners (VE). These ham radio operators volunteer their time to test those who want to become hams. The ARRL website contains resources for finding a VE near you.
VEs started testing online during the pandemic, and we did the same thing here in Canada. This is a convenient option if you find it available to you because you can do the test from the comfort of your home.
I took my test from my dining room table in 2020, and the process was very comfortable and straightforward. After you successfully pass the test, the VEs will submit the necessary documents to the FCC, and the FCC will issue you an Amateur Radio callsign.
The callsign that you will receive will be unique to yourself and be a combination of numbers and letters. These callsigns are not chosen randomly.
Instead, they are structured to provide information about where the holder of the callsign was licensed and the class of license they hold.
Callsigns in the United States are a one or two-letter prefix followed by a number that denotes the region and then a one to three-letter suffix.
My Experience Getting A Ham Radio License
I studied for and passed the Basic Amateur Radio Qualification here in Canada. Because I scored above 80 percent, I am granted privileges to all Amateur Radio bands, similar to the General class license in the United States. The test we take in Canada is a 100-question test.
In my study efforts, I used a textbook and an app that randomly generated tests from the question pool. One of the best resources that I found was YouTube. During my studies, I encountered many topics that I found confusing.
A quick search of YouTube inevitably brought up dozens, if not hundreds, of videos offering in-depth explanations of what I was confused about.
Many ham radio-related podcasts often have episodes devoted to the questions you might have or the topics you need clarification on. One such podcast that I found very helpful was the Ham Radio Crash Course Podcast and YouTube Channel; they answered almost all my ham radio-related questions.
It doesn’t matter what emergency you are preparing for; an Amateur Radio license should be considered as essential as food, water, shelter, and protection.
My time in the military taught me that the quality and effectiveness of communications could make or break an operation. Never underestimate the importance of comms; ineffective comms absolutely will get people killed.
In a SHTF situation is anyone really going to worry about licenses? For everyday use such as a hobby yes getting the license is important, but I think in a real SHTF situation I don’t think the license nazis will be out in force!
No probably not, but a skill unpracticed is not really a skill.
Experience is that which you don’t have until right after you needed it.
I would prefer to be licensed and practicing well in advance of actually needing to use a HAM radio. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to make acquaintances with other hams, which could be invaluable during a SHTF scenario.
Getting licensed now gives you the opportunity to become proficient with your comms gear, set up networks and have everything ready for when you need to be thinking about other things. No one is going to wait until the SHTF to learn to make fires or shoot.
William, any valuable survival skill requires practice. Ham radio is no different. You’re correct that licenses will no longer matter in a serious grid-down situation. However, using a ham radio effectively in a crisis will require the familiarity that comes from use before the crisis when licenses are necessary.
The main reason which was stated having a piece of equipment and not know how to use it in a emergency is pretty much worthless. I’m a licensed general class operator, have a HF radio, also have a DMR repeater in the basement numerous mobile and handheld radios.
When and is a emergency situation happens and one has a radio and no clue how to use it
You more than likely won’t won’t get much help.
My DMR repeater being digital one needs a digital ID, to get that ID number one needs to hold at least a tech license. One can have a digital radio with no ID number and it’ll be kinda worthless.
Just my two cents worth
Get licensed and pratice
If the first time you are picking up a HAM radio is when the SHTF, you will be lucky to actually get an answer to your transmissions. You will have no idea how to reach for a local repeater (if it’s still up and running; though a lot near me are solar/battery run), DTMF codes, split frequencies, etc. That’s not even getting into spread spectrum use, much less which band you will want to use for distance, High or Low band, RTTY & Data, Image bands, Morse code…. Yelling over a radio does you no good if there is no one on the other end that can both hear AND understand you. I do get what you are trying to say. A license isn’t going to matter if the SHTF, but the knowledge & practice will. And let me tell you, not only will the FCC (or whomever your governing body is) come down on you HARD for unlicensed transmission, so will the HAM operators near you. With directional antennas in hand, we will track you and happily turn that information over to the authorities. You have no idea how hard we fight to keep our PRIVILEGES to use these frequencies. Especially with such a finite resource a Radio Frequencies. We can’t just go out and make more.
it sounds like were a good little classroom snitch , i have no interest in radios but if i did i would love for you to hunt me down !
THANKS FOR THE HEAD’S UP GUYS!!!
… “we will track you and happily turn that information over to the authorities.”
Really? Okey-dokey then. Would you do the same if they made the “jab” mandatry and I told you that I wasn’t going to comply? How about if I refuse to take the RFID chip / 666 implant? Would you turn me in for that too?
Whew! Glad I saw this before I wasted my time getting a HAM license! Oh, and I’m an electrical engineer that was once the “Engineer-In-Charge” (EIC) for a local TV station too – just never got into HAM radio before now. High-end audio is my “hobby” so I never bothered to get a license (yes, so long as you work under a licensed engineer/supervisor, you CAN work in Broadcast without needing to have your own license).
In any case, I could easily pass the tests with a little study. Not now though. No way – SCREW THAT! Why in the HELL would I want to turn to a bunch of GOVERNMENT BROWN-NOSING SNITCHES for help when the world is in SHTF-mode, which will almost certainly have been caused by the government in the first place?!!!
No thanks. I guess I’ll just have to rely on my trusty old CB radio and hope for the best.
Thanks for the warning though. BTW – I would advise that ya’ll stick with the amateur side of things, because you guys make for a lousy bunch of covert government agents! :-))
As buying a gun and ammo doesn’t make you an ass kicking soldier/survivalist. Buying a ham radio doesn’t make you able to communicate effectively over the airways. Both take practice and some form of training. You have to know about the operation of the equipment and the frequencies you have available to you. You can tune into a local ham repeater and key your mic and never make a single contact. Why? Because most if not all repeaters require that your radio send a special tone to even get the repeater to key up your transmission. You have to program the radio for each repeater that you intend to use. The next issue you will run into is you will be an unknown entity to others who regularly use those repeaters. In SHTF you may find you are greeted with dead silence because nobody knows whether you are friend or foe. Getting licensed and running before SHTF gives you the advantage of establishing relationships with other operators so you have somebody to call on when the need occurs. There is a lot to learn about lingo, protocols, handshaking, etc. It is unlike CB radio where it has degenerated into chaos. With ham radio you have higher wattage that your equipment can transmit using. It is always good to have another experienced ham operator to help you set up the most ideal antenna for your equipment and location. The experienced operator can help you avoid the mistakes that they had to learn from. And who knows you may just find out that being a ham is also a lot of fun.
Much like buying a gun, you also must pass a background check in 9rdet to get a ham radio license. This one I do not understand, the hobby is dying a slow but persistent death and now in order for me to be able to get my license back, I must grovel before some board of FCC busy bodies over something that happened 20 years ago? I was a responsible general class name radio operator, I recruited and helped others get into the hobby, now as far as I am concerned, they hobby and this entire process can burn in hell.
If it is an emergency it doesn’t matter. Seriously, most hams will not talk to you if your are not licensed. Get your tech if you are interested. Today it isn’t hard. 27 years here & I have to do the code for general in the day. Extra class today. 73
Yep, the Extras will care. And WILL report you. according to the HAMs I have known. Unless you are transmitting a Valid Emergency
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Beth; From all I’ve been reading, you may very well be right about food shortages. But, what does Wire South have to do with any of it?
I believe the idea is to have this process done and over with by the time SHTF. That’s sort of implied if you are any sort of prepper but just in case…there it is. Hope this helps. Take care and stay safe.
Let’s just face it…. if you got the time and the club is easy enough to work with. Then get the government loyalty tax and permission to use airwaves.
Otherwise treat it like everything else. The groups are typically run by Fudds who hate the new people and make it harder for anyone to join or find enjoyment in it.
Just buy it and use it.. The FCC isn’t going to hunt you down unless you’re interfering with commercial radio signals
My God, you’re an idiot.
Well like i said the “ham club people re mostly fudds who will talk about freedom and prepping but … ” at the first chance they get they will rat you out. Thinking they can “GET you ” for using the radios…
I made the attempt years ago to try and get the certification for it but after the club ghosted me on the testing dates and now the closest one is over 3 hours one way…. i refuse to do something that should just be done online.
you would certainly know !
This is hardly helpful. But you probably knew that since you used a pseudonym.
Agree, I’ve contacted the local club – after multiple phone call attempts and emails – the person that is assigned to talk with potential new members finally replied with a phone call back to me after 4 call over a 3 month period. Her first question was did I have a FCC license? No but studing to take the test. Do you have the equipment needed? Yes but have not opened the radio box and the antenna box. Needing to know about how to get the antenna and radio connected. This was her next statement to me: Do not use that radio without a license or I’ll turn you into the FCC. Are you kideding? This is hows they communicate with a new user wanting to do it correctly. A very close group and okay understand that but be a little kinder would be nice.
With that stated, I’ve made contact with the City about what is needed to get an antenna properly installed on the side of the house which includes grounding to running the coax cable to the radio location. Have 6 months on the permit and the city inspector would be able to help with direction.
Part of learning how a radio works is turning it on and listing to others. While doing the studying needed for the test some hands on would be nice knowledge.
After working for an engineering company for 30 years, they found out that open book testing which was done yearly was much better then a multi question closed book testing. Open book multi questions gave those works a better familarity with the correct answer. Open book included internet search. Let’s get this out of the dark-ages and get the old ways moved to a more now time topic.
You have a good point regarding HAM clubs, most are old froggies with little or no physical hobby/sport/activity, and the “elitist attitude” does often prevail. However, over the years as a licensed HAM guy, I’ve run into a few great people, you just gotta’ dig to locate them! I suppose this is true in any club environment, people have become zombie-like in personality after the fake plandemic we all lived through. Mental deprivation has taken its toll on the weak-minded, and is reflected in their personalities.
A decent article, just the basics.
It stands to reason that if you need help or are trying to help, it will just be more expedient if you are already familiar with how to communicate with experienced operators. Have you ever been in a situation where amateurs really just got in the way? I imagine it would be similar with ham radio and emergencies, but with desperate panic added.
I plan to get my ham license as soon as I can. I have too many irons in the fire.
I agree. Just having something doesn’t make you and expert. There are too many who always believe they are and find they are not when it’s needed the most.
I’m going to get my license and some more equipment ASAP. When the grid goes down, power is down, and the cell towers won’t be available for long, if ever. EMP protection is also very important. A lot of equipment could become very expensive paper weights.
Here’s a question from a complete dumbass in the area of ham radio. I have ZERO experience and NO equipment at this time. IF i buy the equipment and put up an antenna and get licensed and familiar with it, i’m wondering about one particular issue with regards to an EMP. Would it be best to have the equipment stored away in a lead box that’s reasonably accessible when you do NEED to use it OR keep it all up and running and hope we never get an EMP burst of sufficient strength to damage it OR option #3, have a complete identical backup radio unit stored away? Obviously, option 3 comes at a much higher cost. Thoughts?
Great comment. Option #3 is by far the best. But cost is something everyone has to determine individually. I have purchased Faraday bags and boxes online. They are not cheap, but neither is replacing useless equipment. I am currently using what I have with plans to expand and protect those things I consider essential. Cell phones are not, but communication is.
The answer is maybe.
No one has the definitive EMP answer.
Military-grade communication equipment think they might survive a big hit…
How much modern electronic equipment will be useless depends on distance, shielding, location and luck.
My advice is not to spend big bucks on something that is going to gather dust.
Many new hams are well served by a $50 china handheld and a club membership to check out the scene.
And to learn, it is a license to learn.
to learn is free just don’t join a club or take the test
Option #3 will be the best.
Break it up in to something manageable, financially, if you can.
FYI the CB shacks now are selling mostly mobile ham radios instead of regular CB radios, per the guy at my local place. You don’t have to have a license to buy one here in TN. Their models were like 300-500 bucks. It was hard for me to tell the difference between them, actually. I opted to get a regular CB radio for the time being.
You can get a cheap one to listen to, get a license and talk on it, save for a nicer one and salt it away for SHTF.
I suggest you check out the video “Protecting Your HAM Radio from EMP Attacks – 6 Steps” on the “empdoctor” YouTube channel 🙂
Thanks for the info – watched the video which gave me a efw good pointers on how to protect the equipment.
Yes! Your absolutely right. With an EMP, the length of wiring is the issue more than anything else. As long as you disconnect your antenna, and put your Raido in self made cheap faraday cage or bag, you should be fine. Even an old microwave oven will work. Do get a license so you can find a group of like minded people & NOT find yourself giving your location to an enemy…
My dad was a ham for years. As a kid, I helped him study for it. It really ticked him off that I learned Morse Code before he did. But I never had any interest in it as a hobby. Today, I’m with some of the others here. If the SHTF, use the ham radio — license be damned. Govt is non-functional now, so does anyone really think they will be kicking down the doors in a SHTF situation if you use Ham gear without a license?
If you interfere/ encroach upon or degrade anyone else’s licensed frequencies they will find you. And yes, if any of those situations occur they will look.
Many businesses purchase blocks of frequencies for anything from wireless internet to dependable company comms to satellite traffic….not just TV but actual communications.
It’s not just you being a bandit and stepping on someone’s transmission &/or reception. If you transmitt too much power your roll off can wipe out adjacent frequencies w/o you even being aware.
Sometimes it really is life and death.
Sounds like it is other gam operators that will be tracking us down. Not the government.
I too am completely ignorant about this area but in considering it, my main interest would be to communicate with family from afar if SHTF, in particular my daughter who is away at college. I think I can get handheld equipment that she could keep with her that would have the range necessary to reach from my base to her location. My question is whether she would also have to have a license to operate the hand held unit now so that we can practice and make sure that system works?
So this is the other issue….. people now with cell phones sorta misundertand radios…. The myths come from prepper novels and movies. You’re handheld radio isn’t going to reach the moon…. even the repeaters or whatever (unlikey to work when the grid dies)
The Longer range high power radios cost a fortune and even then…. its based on cloud bounces and maybe… you get what you want. but its not all the time and its very limited in most ways.
@Combat Lawyer, a lot depends on how far away your daughter is. A handheld transceiver is usually UHF/VHF and unless there are running repeaters close by the distance you will be able to reach will be limited.
Yes, she would need a license of her own. High Frequency(HF) radios can communicate world wide with good location and antenna array. They can also do it with as little as 1 watt output or as much as 1500 watts. Mobile(vehicle mounted)(1-75 watt) Very High Frequency(VHF) and Ultra High Frequency(UHF) radios generally have an effective range of up to 25-30 miles depending on power output and antenna array. Handheld radios (VHF/UHF)(1 – 10 watt) usually have a range of 5-10 miles.
When an EMP (atmospheric, or ground based kinetic explosion) or a large solar flair effects your area, essentially nothing with electronic chips embedded may work at all (most newer cars post 1950’s, cell phones, iPads, TV’s, watches, Ring door monitors, computers, exposed solar generating equipment and the like). So unless you have a secondary backup as mentioned in a prior post that is kept sealed in a validated Faraday bag or container (most on Amazon are expensive junk), your equipment would probably not function, and if you depend on localized NET towers that county HAM clubs use, they would probably be boat-anchors as well. The key would be to have a set of 2 radios that are maintained in a verified Faraday container, and checked frequently for battery power and potential corrosion (having 2 units will enable comm with you and your choice on the other radio, not depending on someone out in “vapor-land” to respond to you). Yes, learning the HAM basics and employing the functionality prior to a SHTF is actually important, as is knowing how to use a solar charging panel/battery, and properly deploying that back-up generator that you’ve unboxed but never run with fresh fuel to see what you can actually power in your home (big smile here). As an alternative/option to deploying actual HAM radios, a well researched high-quality FRS GMRS Two-Way radio set (meaning 2 or more stored in your Faraday container with plenty of fresh batteries or a solar charger) is essential for communicating with your family members or your “survival team”. Practice with those as well beforehand, so you understand the channels and distance limitations of your set. In a real SHTF scenario, regarding any FCC issues with power pumping (increasing the output of your specific radio beyond FCC limits), never mind, they won’t be listening, nor would they give a SHTF. You will do what you have to do to protect your family, and worrying about government over-reach is the last thing that should concern you. Now, with that said,… in times of peace (as we are pretending to be in now), it is essential to obtain a license and operate politely on the HAM airwaves. FYI, I’m a licensed HAM, an engineer, a prepper and a realist. Oh, and if you weekend-warriors depend on any electronic controlled gadgetry on your weapons of choice…. they’d be toast as well. Stick to basics. Period.
A good point about the weapon mounted electronics. Not to be depended on. Either be proficient with iron sights or use regular optics not relying on any electronic gadgetry. I disagree with you about the FRS GMRS radios. I have licensed GMRS that I keep in a faraday box but my experience using them is that they also are advertised as having ranges that are all hype. I have had little luck with them to keep in contact with relatives that don’t want to go the amateur radio route. Their advertising doesn’t tell you that you may reasonably expect 1 mile or less range in actual use. Mine are relatively useless. I do much better with my 2m/70cm handheld than the GMRS. Another thing to keep in mind no matter what communication method you opt for is the enemy will be listening and you need to be careful what kind of info you transmit. It could cost you everything if you lead them right to you. Short and quickly to the point without giving away location details.I am set up to operate off solar/battery banks and have faraday cages for important electronics. Also, forget GPS, it is unlikely it will be up and running and even if it is, it will be used to track you. Get a compass and learn how to use it, and keep it in your faraday cage too. If your vehicle has Onstar or other such devices with GPS. completely disconnect them from vehicle power and antennas. Preferably remove it entirely from the vehicle. In my equinox it was located in the passenger rear quarter panel.
My take on the reality if/when the SHTF… using a HAM radio *without a license* will be the least of anyone’s worries.
Dang it, that’s second time in two days I’ve somehow replied to a comment instead of a post. Apparently blog commenting is beyond my skillset this week. (I build blogs for a living.) LMAO.
I want to mention that you might see these 2-way radios that boast 35-50 mile range. Understand that is total advertising BS. Under ideal conditions (flat land, no trees, hills or buildings) you might get 2-3 miles. They are good for local group communications though. A better route is the FRS GMRS radios mentioned previously.
The author made it clear that a General License is the minimum needed to learn the skills for a comprehensive communications plan. Even though the Extra class gives you more legal access to the bands, the General license gives you the knowledge to use the bands that Extras can use.
Without this knowledge the chances of you being able to get much more than static are slim. This isn’t CB radio where you can just plug in an antenna and go. In addition you will learn what bands work at different times of day for what distances and locations, and also how to not blow out your finals (RF amplifiers) because either your antenna is incorrectly connected or your SWR (Standing Wave Ration) is too high, in other words not tuned to the frequency you are transmitting on.
Finally listening is one thing, you can do that without a license. But transmitting is another. Once you key up, you have just announced to the world where you are. Another skill learned getting your license is radio direction finding, also know as fox hunting. In a SHTF scenario, if you have any OPSEC sense at all you know that is a BAD thing and want reduce the chances of being located at all.
Oh one more thing. In a SHTF situation, being in a group will drastically increase your safety and chances of survival. But being in a group means you have to be able to contribute and have some skill(s). If you come to a group and say you know how to run a ham radio but all you do is fiddle some knobs and switches and just get static it will become very clear very quickly that you don’t have that skill. Someone who has been licensed and had experience might be able to take something as simple as a flag pole and turn it into a working, tuned antenna. Just saying…
I think in a SHTF situation people will press the button and use the radio if they find it.
Agreed 100%. Not recommended but it will happen. And “use” is a highly questionable term as to what their results will be.
I just thought of something else lol. As far as OPSEC, not only do you not want anyone to be able to locate you by you radio transmission but you probably don’t everyone to know what you are saying. Currently it is illegal to encrypt Ham radio transmissions (there are legal data protocols but they can be read with the proper knowledge and setup). But in SHTF I’ll bet that a large portion of the licensed community would know how to setup secure encryption of their communications fairly quickly.
OK, so I think I did prove my ignorance. After the comments, I just spent the last hour looking at hand held radios and, ok then, probably not the solution I was thinking they were. I have enjoyed the conversation here, very much so. My resolution – it is off to get the license so I can figure out the solution that will work.
Handhelds are quite handy, especially in a SHTF situation where one of your tribe needs to go somewhere else in the immediate vicinity, as in no more than a mile or two or Maybe three, and you want to stay in touch. I have three Baofengs that I originally got for pure convenience as in junkyarding in larger yards searching for those obscure car parts so as to keep in touch with my brother who liked to wander about. So far that’s all I’ve ever used them for, even used my call sign just to keep Uncle Charley happy, should anybody working for the commission actually give any f**ks to begin with. The Baofengs are decent little radios that work well, so well they’ve been counterfeited and even the counterfeits seem to work ok. By the way, people keep talking about EMPs and Faraday cages… I have three HAM radios, all HF. The Icom is the most modern of the bunch and is full coverage. I also have an old Yaesu that I keep mostly because it covers 160 mtrs. For the fear-of-EMP crowd, I have a vintage Drake TR-3 that does 80-10 and is all tubes. It’s pretty much safe from any EMP that’s not close enough to demolish the house. It took a shot a while back by a nearby lightning strike (yeah they can make an EMP too) that arced over inside the radio behind the coax socket, left a sooty spot, no damage to the old Drake TR-3 at all. BTW… the Icom will work directly on 12 volts so there’s that perk.
In following all the “equipment” conversation threads… I must reiterate: Your stuff ain’t gonna’ work after an EMP or large solar flair, no matter how expensive or cheap it may be. Referencing the example of a daughter at college, she must keep and maintain her equipment in a verified Faraday bag, backpack or other type of protected containment. Another option for communication is a satellite radio, they aren’t cheap (but actually less than most name brand HAM radios), and do typically come with an annual or monthly subscription whether you use them or not. No license is required either. And the usage charges are typically by minute, but not entirely unreasonable, that is… if you don’t blabber and keep the conversation to the point. You can text with them as well. Again, these must be kept and maintained in a Faraday container of some sort, to protect from an EMP, or they too may become just another decorative object.
Isn’t tube technology EMP safe since it isn’t solid state? I am trying to think through preparation and am trying to learn.
Excellent question. The answer is probably but not definitely. It isn’t a bad idea to have an old vacuum tube model as a backup but in most cases, especially ones you get off ebay, they will need repair. To pay someone to fix them could cost you more than a new solid state model. But if you have a good working one then I would still try to protect it in the same fashion as any newer electronic device just to be sure. The big drawback to old tube ham radios is the amount of power required to run them. Quite a few older rigs can be run off 12 volts but some can’t, needing a 120 volt power supply. The deal is that the heater filaments in these radios need a high current to allow them to “glow”. Most new solid state ham radios can also run off 12 volts but being solid state don’t have the constant current draw that a tube radio does. Of course both types draw quite a bit when transmitting but once again the solid state ones are more efficient. That will be a concern when you are trying to keep a battery or bank of batteries charged in SHTF. So if you already have a tube powered radio, it wouldn’t hurt to keep it as a backup but if you want to get a backup I might suggest getting either another of the same solid state model you already use or a cheaper similar model. In either case put it in some type of faraday cage/EMP protection.
Raven woke up this morning and asked himself “who or what can I ridicule and disparage today?”
He then decided to target HAM Clubs.He hates them because
they know more than he does on any topic.
Someone commented that Raven “must be an idiot.”
Let’s not give idiots a bad name.There are some high functioning idiots however Raven is not one of them.
What happens to repeaters if the grid goes down? Don’t they need electricity to run them. I guess if you are totally off grid with solar and batteries they might work. I’m new and just studying for my HAM license.
Home base is 25 road miles from the CB shop. After having my PC76XL peaked and tuned by the shop, I could just barely have a conversation with them from the house using a Wilson 1000 mag mount in my personal vehicle.
I was pretty impressed with that. It’s hilly and has trees in this area.
Point being, your stuff is only as good as you prove it to be.
The hams like to make up station cards and trade them around with people they’ve talked to/display them in their ham shack. It’s a proof of how far you have talked.
That kind of a loose network of contacts doesn’t appear immediately during a conflict. It would be wiser to get it going in advance.
Now, if I could just follow my own advice….
I have one comment about any communications during a shtf event. This goes for CB, Ham, land lines and cell phones. Some or all of these may work for a time. Even cbs for short distance to communicate for hunting because some one could be listening and hear that you killed a deer then come to take it from you.
You will not be able to trust the information you get. Can you trust your neighbors during a shtf?
You will be able to trust a few people and that is very few. Ham operators are just like everyone else some will have the “I come first attitude”. Another words if they are hungry willing to do anything for food, near you, communicate with you on a device, find out your location and what you have then they just might come see you and it just might not be a friendly visit. Also triangulation can be used to find you if there is two or three operators set up around you.
So think about this just because you have talked to them does not mean anything. Think about those men that are big and fat that put up a picture of a young healthy man to entice younger people on the internet it is the same with communications. People will tell you what you want to hear to get info from you.
I agree, two way radio communication of any form that is left in working condition after SHTF should be only used when communicating with trusted family members and trusted real friends that you have had actual contact with, and trust them thoroughly.
You should also have a code setup that only your very trusted people know. So when you speak over a radio you might say something like “The weather today wendy but clear” which would actually mean “Hunting today was bad”. Codes can be any word or words that mean something only to you and the ones recieving your message.
Now everything you said was ok with me until you started talking about the FCC coming after us unlicensed people with the SHTF. The FCC will not be monitoring any band of frequencies after that occurs. They will have their hands totally full trying to handle military and other first responders nationally. Locals will not be interested in some poor sole that has an unlicensed HAM radio trying to save his ass from starvation or worse. There will be millions of these types out there on every frequency that is known to mankind trying to communicate. As for you and any other Amatures that are at that time hell bent on making unlicensed, starving families conditions even worse by trying to “report them” may your name be shared with those you try to interfer with so they can deal with you appropriately. I don’t think you understand that no government agency will be functioning at business as usual and the FCC will certainly be on the top of that list.
Your license won’t mean didley when the government shuts down and blocks the frequencies. Besides, they intercept and monitor these and CB band frequencies 24/7.
If the government shuts down, they’re not gonna be blocking any frequencies even if they could. The best they could do is ban the use of certain freqs and that would be meaningless in a SHTF situation. Of course someone in government is likely going to be ignorant enough to actually issue such mandates, also pointless. And as far as I know, the FCC used to have field offices that did monitor certain ranges of public frequencies like 11 mtr Citizens Band and commercial business bands like taxi service radio etc but that was then, and in a true nation wide emergency almost Nobody is going to be monitoring anything domestic like CB or even HAM. They are going to be far too busy elsewhere. By the way, CB Radio became an open-to-public unlicensed band a long time ago, no license required, no money needed to pay to use it, although you are still gonna have to follow the rules which are most certainly still in place. If you break the rules the FCC can and will come down on you for it, usually because you’ve done something wrong that caused someone to complain about you to whatever authorities will listen. If it’s bad enough, the feds can arrest you under the provisions of Part-95 of the FCC rules and regulations and depending on the severity of the offense you could be fined 10,000 dollars and spend a year in jail, and yes that HAS happened, although you have to be a real idiot for things to get that far. Unfortunately, there are plenty of idiots around… Again, in a SHTF situation, nobody is gonna come after you unless you really misbehave, like using a CB radio to commit capital offenses etc, whereupon your biggest worry won’t be the commission at your door it will be the FBI or even the national guard. So, don’t be using a CB radio to commit any treason or murder or major conspiracies even in a SHTF situation since if you manage to attract that much attention from these agencies at times like that to the point where they come for you the consequences are gonna be severe.
They do now, that’s right…Personally, I am set up with multiple scanners with proper outside antennas for each. I won’t to hear the BS not be part of it. I will filter out what I believe I need to know and can trust and leave transmitting to those who needlessly risk their lives and families by dragging the authorities to their houses.
I don’t think anyone that commented said they would turn in someone who operated a ham radio without a license AFTER shtf. That was meant for BEFORE shtf. The reason for that is that radio frequency spectrum is limited and each band has to be bought or allocated. Think broadcast AM/FM, cell phones, aircraft, emergency services, commercial services, wifi, cordless phones, gps, etc, etc etc. In many case it takes years to get a band and the ham community, usually through the ARRL, spends a lot of time, effort and money to not only maintain the allocations but to obtain new ones, including some experimental ones. It is possible to interfere with services in other bands either from excessive power, faulty antenna installations or harmonics. Some of those interferences can be downright dangerous and deadly. You might remember the recent issue where the rollout of 5G near airports was being held up for this exact reason. You learn all this by studying for a ham license. And not only for the safety factor but the allocated ham bands have gained the support from the FCC for those bands by being self-policed so that they don’t have to be the ones tracking down violators. They take reports from licensed hams and then investigate those. If not for that we might not have the bands we currently have and the chance of any new ones would be slim to none. So licensed hams protect this valuable resource religiously. This isn’t the wild west like the CB bands.
So the point is that getting a license isn’t to be licensed after SHTF but to learn how to use one responsibly before SHTF and to PREPARE for unlicensed use after SHTF. Because as many of us have already said ham radio is not like CB radio. If you just power up a ham radio and push the talk button the chances of you actually being able to communicate (not to mention the possibility of destroying the radio) are not on your side.
And before someone says that GPS, cell service, wifi and aircraft won’t be operating after SHTF, I know that. That is one thing you probably won’t have to worry about. But in order to practice and learn before that case you need to have the knowledge about it to do it safely and responsibly.
I was curious if any of you Ham operators still go CW anymore? To elaborate, CW is Continuous Wavelength or better said, Morse Code
My brother is getting interested in amateur radio again now after having been inactive for 20 years. He is only interested in Morse (CW), because it is so low frequency, and it doesn’t have the safety issues that more powerful radio stations have. Also, he says that coax cable to an antenna for CW is essentially lossless.
General recommendation on getting licensed in the USA:
Buy a book on how to pass the test you want to pass. The FCC changes the test every 4 years, so be sure to get an up-to-date version. These books will have EVERY SINGLE QUESTION that could be on that particular test, along with explanations (if you, like me, actually want to have some understanding about all the pertinent aspects). Worst case, read the book, memorize the answers (there are a lot – about 450 questions), and take some practice tests online to fill in the gaps in your knowledge (ARC, American Radio Club has some excellent practice tests, with further explanations of answers).
You only have to get 75% of the 35 test questions correct.
I started with ZERO technical knowledge, and the concepts were totally foreign to me, but after a few weeks I passed the test with a perfect score.
Next is the task of finding an “Elmer” – a mentor who will help you learn how to actually set up and use a radio. Our regional group has been very helpful in getting me started. Worst case, contact ARC.
Who has the time
That question could be asked about a lot of prepping activities. Personal choice.
I would like to be a ham operator, but everything is so damn expensive, especially if you want a decent radio that will reach out to any distance,like 100 miles or so.
Very interesting topic! There are a lot of good thoughts churning here, and I think you are all correct to some degree. I received my ham license at 13 in 1953 and was very active through high school. But then with the military and other life’s activities, Ham Radio has been an on and off activity ever since.
Point is; I have given this topic a lot of thought and this is my conclusion. If your power failure is a local one, then Ham Radio is great at performing emergency communications, etc., until the power resumes some days later. But, in the case of an EMP, it’s a whole different ball game. This means we will have wide spread power loss, possibly the entire country, and overlapping into the border countries – for months to years! In that situation, I would probably never use my transmitter, just the receiver to listen. My goal would be to learn as much as I can about the rest of the country and world. I have nothing to gain by transmitting my location or conditions at the home base. There will not be any emergency services that can help. Except for your immediate neighbors, you and your family will be on your own. I guess if you wanted to join a Fema Camp you could use your transmitter to get directions – or maybe not.
I can imagine that communications could be very helpful for your local family group, maybe when one is out scouting or collecting fire wood, etc. But the range you would need would only be as far as one might walk in a day. For that purpose, the common FRS or GMRS hand held radios that one can buy in a blister pack at the sporting goods store should be good. They are cheap, rugged, easy to use, no license, and very low power. They are also at a high enough frequency that their range is mostly limited to line of sight, which will minimize the chances of giving away your location. Even then you will want to only use it for an emergency and then with minimum transmit time.
The concern here goes beyond some bad guys wanting to rape and pillage. The real bad guys would probably be coming from the country that launched the EMP – possibly China. In my opinion, as soon as they hit us with an EMP, they would be listening to all frequencies with their satellites to learn just how effective their attack was. If they find a lot of signals coming from some part of the country, they would know where to aim for a follow up shot. They would also know where to investigate when picking off survivors later on.
In conclusion, for this approach, one does not need a Ham ticket to communicate with his local people. But, having a Ham license would be a great asset to the group from knowing about electricity and electronics to serve the family group, or trade with neighbors for some service you may need.
Is no one going to address the elephant in the room? Some of the topics have already been addressed here but not all. In a true SHTF scenario more than likely there will not be any electricity or at best it will be very spotty so unless you have some way to generate your own electricity all these fancy electrical gadgets will be nothing more than very expensive paper weights. And even if you do have some way to generate your own electricity you’ll probably have to ration its use. And frankly in a true SHTF situation who gives a darn if you can communicate with other ham operators. The more important thing will be to set up your own local MAG with people that you can trust. And the criminals aren’t stupid. I think someone else alluded to this on this page. If you still have a ham radio set up and working; the crooks could possibly use your communications to home in on your location. So again it would be safer just to listen in on it. And again frankly at that point who gives a damn. That’s not your highest priority at that point. At this point your highest priority is survival and my feeling is that most people don’t realize how much time and energy it would take just to survive if we were missing all our modern “conveniences”. Everything would have to be done by hand. Heck, even just making and eating a meal for myself takes at least an hour or an hour and a half. Imagine if there were no working refrigerators or stoves or furnaces or water heaters. Your first priority would be water. In an urban or even suburban environment where would you get your daily potable water. More than likely there wouldn’t be a lot of drinking water readily available. Your only source of any kind of water could be miles away from your current location so it would have to be humped in by you every day. And then you couldn’t be sure of its quality. So unless you were willing to risk cholera or dysentery that precious water would have to be filtered and boiled. So you’d have to have a ready supply of wood. You’d have to grow a garden or help to grow a community garden. The rule would have to be if you don’t work you don’t eat. If you were part of a small community you’d have to be prepared for marauders. All the “zombies” that didn’t take the time to prepare would be coming for you and your food. Would you be prepared for a group of a hundred or more desperate hungry armed people marching towards your small community with bad intent? And then personal hygiene. How would you stay reasonably clean. That also takes water. Your waste would have to be buried. And then just even gathering and cooking your food. You would be better off to think of your stored supplies as a supplement. Would you be able to gather enough veggies and protein from the surrounding area. How many others would be doing the same thing. How fast would the surrounding area be depleted of plants and animals. Think how quickly the animals disappeared in the last great depression. And there are a lot more people right now. And if you were living in a colder climate how would you stay warm in the winter. That again would take wood. The trees would have to be felled. The logs and branches processed into firewood. And if you didn’t practice good forest management techniques your wood supply would very quickly run out. The point I’m trying to make here is that in a true SHTF situation where there wasn’t any electricity anymore and might not be for years it would take all our time and energy just to survive. We would be working from dusk to dawn. It would be foolish and naïve of us to romanticize a true grid down situation. It would be worse than anything we could imagine. And with apologies to this group and the author of this article; in a true extended grid down situation who gives a flying fuck about cell phones and any other electronics that more than likely wouldn’t work at that point anyways. It would take all our time and energy just to survive. And I haven’t even raised the spectre of nuclear war which would add a whole other dimension to the question of survival. The future chills me to the bone if those in power have their way with us. It would end up being ugly beyond imagining.
I agree with most of what you say with two exceptions. First while in the case of SHTF most things will be much more localized than they are now, not everything will be. For example you said:
“If you were part of a small community you’d have to be prepared for marauders. All the “zombies” that didn’t take the time to prepare would be coming for you and your food. Would you be prepared for a group of a hundred or more desperate hungry armed people marching towards your small community with bad intent?”
So how are you going to know that this hoard on it’s way to you? Yes you could and should have reconnaissance people or teams but that is extremely resource intensive. Wouldn’t it be better and less work and time if you had communications setup and developed a trusting relationship with other local communities that might be able to warn you of the approaching threat and maybe even to team up with these other communities to fight off the hoard instead of you having to do it alone. This type of threat would likely be more local but CB radio does have a limited range so a ham radio would give you an advantage. Beyond your example think of a few other threats that might be more distant but still could drastically affect you – weather, organized militias or other military (you just know that without a functioning government there are those that want to be the new “king”), pandemics, etc. Without communication these threats could arrive without any notice. Yes word of mouth and horseback (Pony Express) would give you some communication but it wouldn’t be real time which could be critical. And once again this is much better use of time and effort.
The second thing is about lack of power. Yes power would be hard to come by and have to be rationed. But it could and probably would be available. You could scavenge car batteries for storage. To recharge you might have solar panels, or have gas generators that have been repurposed to run off water or wind or horse or even human power. Alternators from cars could be used for the same purpose.
So yes I do agree with you that your survival will take all your time and energy, but you also want to make that time and energy as efficient as possible and having some wireless communication could help with that.
You make some good points hambone. As for the scavengers and marauders I would take the worst case scenario and expect them to show up at any time. Day or night. And you could be expected to be attacked multiple times. Your defenses would have to be topnotch. At least in the beginning you would have to have guards posted 24/7. And you’re going to be attacked by people that aren’t in their right mind. I’m trying my hand at fasting and it doesn’t work for me. If I don’t eat at least once a day I get the most horrible pains in my stomach. Even now it’s late at night and I haven’t eaten for about 12 hours. I’m starting to feel it and I’m getting a bit ansy. I can only imagine what people will be like after a week of not eating solid food. Thank god for spam. 😉
Communications with other “communities” in a true long-term grid down situation would be dicey at best and problematic at worst.
Picture this scenario. The grid is gone. It’s going to take a decade to get it back up and running. You and your local MAG group have managed to survive for a while. let’s say there’s a dozen people in your group. They’re a good bunch and everyone is working together to survive and maybe at some point even thrive. remember that more than likely there are some children in this group. Your garden is up and running. You have a few chickens and some rabbits. You’re looking to acquire a couple of cows. You’ve managed to preserve your communications and at a certain time each day you ration the electricity and listen for others and maybe even send out a short generic message.
One day you get a response and everyone is all excited. You start talking with them a little more and they SOUND really good. You’re thinking people that could be an asset to your little community. In this type of situation who can you trust? NO ONE! Especially if you have children in your group. For all you know you could be talking with the local warlord looking to acquire slaves and concubines. And they could be more than a little “kinky”. Maybe they REALLY like young children. remember the rule of law will have been thrown out the window. Anything goes at this point. Are you really willing to risk your small group for a meet with an unknown? I wouldn’t be.
Car batteries only last so long before they lose their charge. And then you would be scavenging in a hostile environment for any parts that could be useful. Exposing yourself to harm.
In a way weather can be planned for. Sturdy shelters would be one of your first priorities. The problem with cooking is that the smoke would give you away. Even if you can’t see the smoke you can still smell it from a long way off.
if you had scouts that were good runners I suppose you could send them out to reconnoiter. But that also comes with its own host of problems.
As for horses, how many people even know how to ride these days. If you need or want horses (good luck catching any) you have to feed them. You can’t let them roam at night. You need a veterinarian to take care of them. At some point they will get sick. You need a blacksmith to make the horseshoes and re-shoe your horses at regular intervals. And take care of their hooves. How many people know how to repair and make saddles these days. How many know how to repair and make the harnesses for the horses. Horses would be really nice but unless you had enough land to grow enough grains to feed them horses would be problematic. And the more land that you have the more people that you would need to defend it. Everything is a tradeoff.
Again back to power. As for repurposed generators it takes a LOT of energy to run a generator. Just think of an ordinary car alternator. It typically takes anywhere from about 1.5 to 3 HP from the engine to run that one small alternator. A human being can’t put out that kind of power even for a short time. Wind? Do you have a wind turbine already set up. Wind power is unreliable. Horses? Prone to the problems I’ve already mentioned. So unless you have a small waterfall that flows year round and doesn’t freeze up in the winter that’s really your only viable option to generate electricity. I suppose you could set up a small waterwheel but that is very work intensive and you’re going to have your hands full just trying to survive.
I’m not trying to insult you hambone. I’m just trying to ask these questions to make you think a little more. I’m a realist hambone and if it goes down as the ruling elite are planning it will be hell on earth for us. I really think you’re romanticizing an extended grid down situation. We won’t be able to trust ANYONE in an EOTW scenario outside of our closest friends and neighbours. And even those will turn on us if they start really starving and they get the idea that we have some extra food on hand. If it all goes down very badly we’ll have no choice but to share our supplies with them or we’ll have enemies. But that sharing will come with conditions. NOTHING will be free at that point. For food they will either have to work for it or trade for it.
And that’s why I fear for the future more than I can convey. I shudder at the possibilities but they have to be taken into consideration. Any actions we undertake during the worst of these times will have consequences for us once the rule of law is re-established and at some point it will be. So think carefully before you act in a true SHTF. If you have the choice; defend rather than hurt. Hurt rather than maim. Maim rather than kill. There will be situations where you will have no choice.
Succinct and on point.
Armin I beleive you are on the mark with this.
Hambone You do not have a clue like most people about how things will go down. The old saying is “plan for the worst and pray for the best”.
To start with there will be very few organized good groups and what there is will be like in feudal days. But everyone during a shtf event is going to be your enemy until they prove otherwise. If you do not treat them as you would an enemy until you find out what they are about and that takes inperson meetings Then you most likely will not survive the first week.
Here is what the exgovernment HLS agent had to say about any event where we lost the power grid.
He said in the cities during the first two days people would be confused about what is going on and the shelves in the stores would empty because nothing would be coming in. Then as people realized the grid was down permanently they would start killing each other for a peice of bread. Since most of those people have never lived outside the city and they know very little about the country they will stay as long as they can. That is where diseases begin (about two weeks) because there will be no fresh water, no treatment plants so bathrooms will back up and very little food if any. At this point about half the population of the cities will be dieing from disease or killed by criminals. Why because the medical facilities will have been out of medicine and the doctors and nurses will have left to look after their own.
What do you think the people that are hungry in those cities will do? They will leave and most likely make up groups to hunt for food and not in the woods they will search every house and kill anyone who tries to stop them.. He said the first month over 60% of the population would die and then after two month 90% would be dead.
Do you honestly thnk that knowing from what direction they will be coming from will help you? No it will not help. Either you are prepared or your not.
Depending on your location as to how long before you have to worry about drifting groups. In my location I think about a week and a half. See the nearest populated city is only about 100k people about 10 miles away. By the end of the first week I will have napalm grenades made up. Through one into a group attacking you and the attack is over.
I do not want to do this but when it is them or us then it will be them.
“Do you honestly thnk that knowing from what direction they will be coming from will help you? No it will not help. Either you are prepared or your not.”
Ok Rambo, I wish you lots of luck
First of allow me to explain why it will not matter if they are coming from the north, south, east,or west if you are prepared.
If you make a solid plan to prepare your area then there will be only one route that you can be attacked from. So knowing where they are coming from matters not and it does not matter what time someone saw them heading your way because you will not be able to know the time of the attack. This is because you will not know how long it will take them to take out others between you and them. Also they will not know your location so can not come directly to you. If you are prepared you will have scouts out watching with ways for them to signal if trouble is headed your way.
I know Rambo from the movies and it does not apply to the question.
In your eyes what is a Rambo?
@dreaded I think you’re spot on with your post, dreaded. rather than some kind of Rambo character I recognize you as a pragmatist. I think the problem with a lot of people is that they don’t realize just how bad people can become if they’re truly starving. Think of Venezuela. My heart aches for those poor people. At heart we are predatory animals and it doesn’t take much for the veneer of civilization to fall away and reveal our true nature. there’s not much I can add to your post because I think that’s pretty much how it’s going to go down. The people in the bigger cities are clueless and once they start to really starve you’ll probably see cannibalism raise its ugly head. A few years ago I ran across a video on youtube and I was shocked by the results. 3 or 4 young men wanted to see how far they could get by walking for 24 hours. The city they started from is approx. an hour’s car drive from me. There are a few million people living there. They started out at the most distant point from me and in 24 hours managed to walk to the next bigger city which is approx. half an hour past me. I was really shocked that they could walk that far in only one day. Mind you it was the middle of summer and they were all in their early twenties I would guess. So that’s a possible scenario I have to look forward to if it all goes to heck. And that’s also one of the reasons the future terrifies me. Massive hoards of people spreading out into the countryside scavenging for any remnants of anything edible left over. At that point even the domestic animals would start to look delicious. I think that the disappearance of animals would follow this pattern. First all the farm animals would be eaten. then the wildlife. Then old yeller would be dinner. One last comment about napalm grenades. Molotov cocktails would work just as well. I’m keeping all my bottles. One of the last things I have left to do is fill up a couple of 5 gallon cans. Keep the faith and keep prepping as long as you can. In the last week or two canned beans at my local walmart have gone from $1.27 to $1.57. This is the time to pick up the last of my canned beans before the prices go up any further. Take care dreaded. Surround yourself with people that you can trust with your life and the hell with the rest of them. With any kind of luck the unprepared will be dead within a month once we’re in the depths of SHTF. We can only hope.
Old yeller had rabies. According to Google, a few minutes at 122 degrees F will kill the rabies virus.
@Woodstock Old yeller was obviously a tongue in cheek example. 😉 But if things do get desperate enough eventually people will start eating their dogs and cats. Re rabies the temp. of 122F seems to be correct, This is what the internet says about eating an animal that has had rabies.
The rabies virus is fragile under most normal conditions. It is destroyed within a few minutes at temperatures greater than 122°F, and survives no more than a few hours at room temperature.
Also Know, does the rabies virus die when exposed to air? Rabies travels from the brain to the salivary glands during the final stage of the disease—this is when an animal can spread the disease, most commonly through a bite. The rabies virus is short-lived when exposed to open air—it can only survive in saliva and dies when the animal’s saliva dries up.
Likewise, how do you kill the rabies virus?
The rabies virus is a very fragile virus. As soon as the saliva dries, the virus is no longer infectious. The virus is easily killed by soaps, detergents, bleach, alcohol and ultraviolet light.
Can you get rabies from eating the meat of a rabid animal?
Consuming the meat from a rabid animal is strongly discouraged. Although no human cases have been documented following the consumption of uncooked meat from a rabid animal, butchering or eating a rabid animal may potentially transmit rabies. If an exposure occurs, PEP should be initiated.
You sir, hit the nail on the head (I’ve referred to several of the points you’ve made in previous responses and posts). Anything with an IC chip embedded is vulnerable to an EMP or coronal mass ejection. Only hardened devices and those units kept in a verified Faraday container will survive (mostly). Yes, the effort just to eat and drink to survive will take most people down.
Armin, Hambone, nArmjin, Dreaded, Wood Stock, and Carolina Patriot. You are all making great points. But I would suggest not beating up on each other. Because any of the points that were made here could make sense, depending on where you are in the country and what the unforeseen dynamics of the moment are. We are all on the same wavelength of knowing things will be difficult if life here comes even close to any of this. So, I would suggest taking in all that we commenters have to offer, and then use only the parts that apply to you. Otherwise, others who may have valuable thoughts, may well decide not to post it here for fear of getting beat up too. Nothing wrong with pointing out fallacies as long as they are not personal attacks.
While all the information shared here is really great, it is off topic from the original article, which was using Ham Radio in any bad situation. I did not get into the survival aspects of a bad situation, because my comment was already too long, and these things have been discussed to no end here in previous articles.
But – if you want to get into the survival aspect of this, there is another gorilla in the room that no one seems to be aware of. That is fires!!! Especially when fire bombs start going off. Or when just a city person starts building a fire to cook with or keep warm. Even in our modern age, it’s been said that 90% of the fires in California are manmade. And there will be no fire departments to stop it, let alone water to do it yourself. Once a house or wild fire starts, it will spread unimpeded until the next rains arrive, which could be months in the Western half of the US. It could just be that the first fire could arrive in your neighborhood in the first week, regardless if you’re in the city or outback. California reports close to 3,000 fires per year, which is close to 8 per day! In a SHTF situation, I could imagine many more. This could mean that all the survival stuff hidden in your house or barn could be gone!.
Before depression takes over here, there is hope. I’ve been studying structures lost to wildfires for the last couple of decades. The good news is that your house does not have to burn! There are many low or no cost things that you can do to give your house a 90% chance of survival vs. a 90% chance of loss. Spending a little bit of money can raise your odds even higher. Spending a bit more, if you have ample water available, will raise your odds of survival to virtually 100%. This does not mean clear cutting all vegetation 100 feet out from your house. That reduces your chance of survival. Too much to cover here.
Another fire problem will come from all the people displaced by a fire. Even if they had a week or month’s supply of food, all of a sudden, they have nothing! I believe that this never mentioned hazard will further accelerate the human die off.
Wasn’t trying to beat up on anyone, or make it seem that way.
I think it can get spicy on here with hostility… no need for us to tear each other down when we ought to be building each other up. It’s a recipe for failure if we were in a SHTF situation.
I know it can be hard to get here initially by having a mindset to survive without any help, amass a world of knowledge we might need, and have a higher % of grit/independence than the average American… without thinking that we are the authority on some things. I expect some skirmishes there, naturally, among such people.
Maybe the skirmishers just love each other so much they have difficulty expressing it.
Please do share your fireproofing ideas. As one who has lost everything in a house fire, once is too much even in “normal” times.
The quotation marks is for lack of italics….to any who get frustrated with grammatical mistakes.
Lots more comments like Oldprep’s would be appreciated.
@oldprep Agreed old prep. Especially on this page we need to stick together. If we can’t do it here what chance do we have in the real world. I really don’t think I was beating up on anyone. I was just asking questions hoping to make people think a little more. And the point I stress over and over again is that when true SHTF it WILL be much, much worse than anything we can now imagine. We’re not yet anywhere near a true SHTF situation and already people in the real world are starting to turn on each other. Crime just keeps going up. People are becoming so stressed out that it’s starting to make them crazy and many are starting to become unhinged. It’s only going to get worse from here on in. Think of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. I wouldn’t want to be there.
MtEmdog, Ide be happy to share what I’ve learned about fires. And I’ll do my best to keep it as short as I can. Ha –
I’ve done a number of writeups on the subject, but they are a bit long for here, and they contain pictures which I doubt this site will accept. So maybe a more efficient way to present this is with a visual picture in your mind’s eye of the dynamics that need to be dealt with, rather than just a lot of facts.
Suppose you have a drone looking down on your house to give you eyes in the sky. Looking over the trees, you can see a wildfire a few miles away, and the wind is blowing your way. Maybe the first thing you’ll see are sparks and hot ember reaching your property and landing on your roof, etc.. All the published stats indicate that 90% of the structure fires start from blowing embers – not flame contact. So, the first step is to harden your house from those embers.
Starting from the top – hopefully your roof has been kept clear of accumulated tree debris, because now is probably too late to do that. Good news is; if you have a class A Fire rated roof, as the vast majority now are, high probability is, it will protect your house, even if the tree debris catches fire. Problem is if the debris connects to a second story wood window or vent frame, etc.
If your roof is reasonably clean, the next thing you will see is the hot embers rolling down your metal or composition. roof into the rain gutters. When tree debris there lights up, fire can get up under the roofing material and work its way into the attic. So keep your gutters clean. I’ve mounted mine on over center hinges, so all I do is reach up with a hook and roll them over. Then I leave them upside down through the fire season. But, you’ll need to design a break in the down spout to make that work.
Next thing to consider is attic vents which are prone to ember entry. Vulcan makes fire and ember proof vents, but they are pricy. I have one in a vent that’s hard to get to. For the other 2, I have a custom cut piece of sheet metal from my local HVAC shop. One easily installs on the inside via my walk-in attic, and the other mounts over the outside via a step ladder and wing nuts on threaded studs already screwed into the vent frame. Even just a piece of plywood screwed in place should do fine for the event. Another way is to just stapple some of your wife’s heavy duty aluminum foil over it. Just make sure to not leave places for the embers to lodge in between the foil and the wood vent frame.
I’ve watched vides of controlled tests of blowing embers on full size wood structures. On the wood siding, they just bounce off and drop to the ground. Same as I’ve watched videos of people walking around in ember storms wearing shorts and tank tops with no serious problems as long as the sparks cannot find a place to lodge. So look over your dwelling to make sure there are no places an ember can enter, especially into the attic. Cover or plug any such opening. In an emergency, one could cover the hole with a piece of the aluminum tape from your hardware store. The aluminum is a great reflector of heat, so the glue will not likely release the tape. If in doubt, add stapples.
If you have flower beds next to the house, make sure they are clear of leaves and other debris, including wood chips often used to control weeds. Because, when hot embers bounce off the siding and fall down into a flower bed covered with combustibles, they will light it up. And then, even though it’s not a big fire, it can be enough to ignite the wood siding, or get under the lower edge, and work its way into the wall. I have concrete sidewalks or gravel around most of my house to make it a non-issue.
It is suggested that shrubs or bushes should not be grown next to your house. I watched a video of a large bush go up next to a house with stucco siding. It was a raging inferno for several minutes until the heat broke a high window above it. Then the fire had entry into the house and it took off. In my opinion, if the shrub next to your house is green, healthy, thinned out and trimmed up so that only dirt is showing underneath, it will probably be fine.
The mind set here is to keep anything combustible away from the house. Do not stack fire wood next to the house, or on the porch as I often see. Yes, it’s convenient, but also an invitation for embers to set up house keeping in any of those crevasses. Remove all dead grass and other tree debris at least a few feet away from your siding. Just imagine what it would look like if it was burning. If your house would be safe from the flames, you’re good. Ideally, all the dead vegetation would be removed from your entire yard, but this is a minimum.
Clean all the tree debris out from under your decks and from crawl spaces under the house. An alternative would be to temporarily cover your vents, or install ember proof ones. Of course, cleaning and vents would be the best. If you build a deck from wood, make the plank spacing greater than 3/16.” Studies have shown that 3/16” or less will trap embers and propagate a smoldering fire up the house. I built my deck before I knew about the 3/16” rule, but it is spaced ¾” away from the house, which means it’s free standing with a small fire break. Also, my top planks are made from the plastic composite material, which I believe is more fire resistant. Another surprise can happen from leaving a straw broom on your deck, leaning up against the house. The ember gets into the straw part, then ignites the wood handle and on up to the wood house. Also, don’t leave any overstuffed, or combustible furniture on the deck, or in the yard.
Imagine how long an overstuffed piece of furniture or pile of wood could burn in your yard compared to natural standing dry grass. Probably 100x longer. And all the while that’s happening, it’s throwing smoke and embers into the air to fall on something else.
Look around your yard and remove any dead vegetation or piles of combustible material out to at least 50 feet. For sure remove any dead trees even further out. However, it’s better to have live, healthy trees and shrubs than clear cutting everything. Most green healthy plants are fairly fire resistant, as long as there is no dead grass or tree debris under them. When that debris burns, the heat rises up through the foulage of the tree, quickly drying it out, and then the whole thing goes up. Healthy trees, etc., around your property will act as a shield from the radiated heat and greatly reduce the number of hot embers finding your house. Test have shown that clear cutting everything is not good.
Remove all the curtains and shades from inside your windows. They have been known to ignite through the glass from high levels of radiated heat. Also, if a fire should break the glass, the exposed curtains would add to the problem. Double paned glass is more fire resistant, triple paned is even better. Also, plastic window frames can melt, letting the glass fall out, giving the fire entry into the house.
Imagine your house being showered with wind, sparks, embers, and possibly high heat. Then imagine where that could cause a problem and what you could do to protect it.
Since this is getting so long, I should finish it later, probably Monday, as this weekend will be a busy one. Then we will get into the more interesting stuff. 😊 But, these basic things should be done anyway. I see it as just good housekeeping, and it costs very little in dollars.
Thanks for your interest.
Wood Stock and Armin,
Very interesting about rabies!
Protecting structures from fires part II for MtEmdog
Before continuing, I should mention what you probably already know, and that is that every structure and fire event is different. So you’ll have to decide which of the various options fit your circumstances, and be ready to modify your plans if needed, as in any kind of war. And like war, there are no absolutes, so I talk in probabilities.
If your house was prepared as suggested in part 1 to keep any of the embers from embedding anyplace, and a wild fire found your house while you were away on vacation, the probability of your house being there when you return is close to 90%. But we can do better than that.
If you are at home, the next step is to decide whether you want to stay with your house or evacuate. If you chose not to evacuate, one must have their ducks lined up (house and grounds prepared) and be physically and mentally prepared to stay. Statistics score heavily in favor of staying with your house – both for the survival of your house and the owner. Of course, one needs to respect fire, but if you are one who is deathly afraid of fire, then maybe staying is not a good choice – take your 90% probability and go. But, before you go, connect your hoses and lay them out around your house. Fill buckets, etc., with water and leave them around your house, just in case someone needs some quick water to save your house. Shut down ventilation systems and close all your doors and windows. I have seen where an otherwise safe house was lost because the garage door was left open during an emotionally charged evacuation.
Pause here for a moment – if you decide to stay – one needs to have enough food and water to last at least several days or weeks without electricity because your area may be sealed off by the authorities for an extended period of time. And while they cannot force you to leave (at least in California), once you do leave, they will not let you back in. When staying to protect your house, one could be out in the smoke for several hours a day. And the accumulation of smoke in the lungs can be a serious health hazard. So I would suggest having a number of N95 masks with the exhaust port to make breathing easier, because it will be smoky, maybe days before and after the fire passes. When the smoke was heavy here last year, I put on an N95 mask, that is supposed to stop 95% of the smoke size particles, and went outside where I could just barely smell a trace of smoke. When I took it off, the smoke smell was very strong. So they do help a lot. I also bought an “iEvac” fire and smoke hood for just in case I need to be outside when the smoke gets really bad. It not only stops 100% of the smoke, but all the other hazardous gases in smoke, like carbon monoxide. They are only good for a onetime use (day, etc.) and cost about $200. Fire Escape Mask While the chemicals in the filter will eventually become exhausted, the mechanics of the filter will still stop smoke particles as long as one can pull air through it.
Un pause – If you have decided to stay, I would suggest you start watering down everything on your house and around your property.at the first threat of fire while you have water pressure. When other houses in the neighborhood catch fire, their water pipes will break, eventually draining the water pressure to zero. So, fill up all the buckets and other water containers you can find and leave them located around your house. Also, wet down your roof and rain gutters in case they have tree debris in them. Walk around your house looking for any signs of smoke to extinguish. Reports I have seen, say that while the owner was watching his own house, he had time to save 2 or 3 of his neighbor’s houses by putting out small fires. I bought a water backpack with a hand pump that carries 5 gallons for small fires beyond my hose reach. But, be careful – I’ve been told that if a fire agency catches you off your property, they can remove you from the sealed off area. Of course, if society has melted down, there won’t be any authorities to deal with. Just to be clear, one’s firefighting here is limited to small fires just getting started. This is not about fighting a fully involved house with a garden hose.
Using one’s common sense, if a large tree near by goes up, the radiated heat can be lethal for humans. But wood construction can survive up to 400 or so degrees of surface temperature for a brief time. In that case, just step behind, or inside, your house for a few minutes until the heat wave passes, then return to the area and look for any spot fires to extinguish. Some wildfire agencies use similar tactics. It’s interesting to note that when a wild fire is racing through an area, the main heat wave only exists in one spot for about 1-3 minutes. I’ve found numerous accountings and videos illustrating that. Of course, small spot fires remain in the fire’s wake, but they can be handled much easier. The bigger problem is when a structure goes up and continues to burn for an hour(?). If it happens to be close to your house, this can be a problem with respect to the radiated heat, which is another reason you might be motivated to protect your neighbor’s house, if possible.
Since I’m running out of time and space here, I should continue this later with a part III.
RE: FCC HAM License Issue
OK. here ya go (the results of my initial research and final conclusions):
As per previous postings here, seeing that our “good old HAM buddies” seem to be more than willing to act as agents of the state and “feel obligated” to turn us in if we should DARE to operate a HAM rig without a license…
AND the fact that after the SHTF, broadcasting over great distances is a dumb thing to do in the first place because your location is far more likely to be triangulated by government Nazi/Commie/Globalist forces…
the following are INMO examples of the kind of gear to acquire that will (should/hopefully) help with communications over shorter/local distances (home & mobile apps)…
… while also allowing you to monitor long-distance SW & Emergency bands…
…. AND save you a good bit of $$$ in the process.
Happy Surviving & hope ya know JESUS! 🙂
Protecting your house from wildfires, Part III 6-17-2022
If you were successful in performing all the suggestions in part I & II, then your house has close to 100% probability of surviving. But there is more that can be done!
One of those is to cover critical things, or areas of your structure, with a radiant barrier that reflects heat. I prefer the kind used in construction to cover the wall studs before adding the plaster board or siding. There are many variations. I used this one
A 4 foot wide roll x 250 feet long (1,000 sq ft) cost $109. It looks and acts like aluminum foil and is highly reflective on both sides, with a plastic reinforcer in the middle that makes it tear resistant. Excellent for stopping radiated heat. Similar products are fiberglass reinforced rather than plastic, but they cost close to 10 x as much. I’ve ran tests, one was with a piece of plywood covered with 2 inch wide strips of the radiant barrier foil. Then positioned it within inches of a roaring camp fire until the uncovered portion of the plywood began to char (~400 deg. F). The thermocouple behind the foil indicated 120 degrees F, and the wood behind the foil was still pristine when removed. While this foil is great at stopping radiant heat, it begins to deteriorate when subjected to direct flame. Also, I chose the foil with the tiny pin hole in it so that it could breathe and allow water trapped behind it to dry out. This could be used to cover anything that might see an excess of heat, like windows, siding, fences, propane tank, etc. The house next door to me has been abandoned for 35 years and is a terrible fire trap. So, I used the radiant barrier to cover the exposed side of my carport, and I cover their side of my wooden fence, in case that house goes up.
From all I’ve found, the best protection for your house is roof mounted sprinklers, assuming you have water. The intent is not to wet down your class A fire rated roof, even though it will do that. This is to get water into the surrounding trees and other vegetation. I mounted agricultural bronze rainbirds on 3 poles, 30 feet high equally spaced around my house. Each rainbird throws water to about a 70 foot radius in an overlapping pattern. The total water flow is about 15-18 gallons per minute, which calculates out to about 1 inch of rain in 24 hours. After running for about 15 minutes, it appears to be raining with water dripping off everything. The way it appears to work is that when the fire front moves toward your house, each tree that ignites creates a huge updraft of hot air and smoke. This pulls in air from the ground and sides of the fire engulfed tree. When it gets close to your rain forest, it begins to pull in moist rain laden air, which moves up through the tree, smothering the fire. So, while I tried to get the water as high up in the trees as possible, reaching much past the midpoint of the 100+ foot high trees is very difficult, and unnecessary.
I have an arial picture of a small cabin in the forest, with a rain bird running on the roof, after a fire had swept through. Cabin is surrounded by a ring of green trees, with an outer ring of dead trees that still had their unburned foulage. And beyond that, everything was black and gone. In this particular fire in British Columbia, their Forest Service went out ahead of the fire and installed temporary sprinklers on 80 cabins. The fire actually got to 60 of the cabins, and they all survived.
A possible issue with sprinklers is that eventually the town’s water supply will stop as other structures burn and open up their water pipes. To cover that, I bought a 1,650 gallon onion shaped self-supporting plastic tank, commonly used by fire departments to stage water. When a fire is threatening, like last year, I remove it from my fire equipment cart, unroll it in the driveway and start filling from the town’s water service. That takes about 15-20 minutes to set up, and about 45 minutes to fill. Initially, I run the sprinklers from the town water supply until the pressure starts to fade. Then I drive the sprinklers with my portable water pump, drawing water from the tank. The town’s water is then used to simultaneously add to the tank. When the pump starts out-running the water level in the tank, I can greatly stretch the remaining water by cycling the pump on & off as needed. I also have a hose bib Tee’ d into the pump output to use where the sprinklers don’t reach. Once it was set up last year, I left the tank full through the rest of the fire season. To keep growies from forming in the tank, I added Chlorine Dioxide tablets and covered it with a white tarp to reflect the summer sun to reduce the water temperature. According to what I read, the chlorine Dioxide keeps the water suitable for drinking, which could be useful in a SHTF situation. I also keep a roll of water proof tape in stock (like they advertise on TV) in case the tank should develop bullet holes.
I have read about hundreds of sprinkler protected structures, and maybe 1% were reported as lost. But then it was also noted that it was not known if those sprinklers were working properly, or working at all. Many of these were left running with an endless supply of water when the owners evacuated.
Seeing my setup, a curious neighbor asked if this was taking water needed by the fire department. My answer was; all the residents are restricted to a ¾“ line to the meter at the street. So what I am using is no different than anyone else using a garden hose. And – what is the fire department going to use my share of water for? To save another house? And why is that house more important than mine?
If you have a well to supply your water, great! But then you’ll need a backup generator for when the fire takes down the power lines.
If one could do all the things listed in these 3 parts, it’s hard to imagine how you could loose your house, especially if you have a swimming pool too. Once the SHTF, anything is possible. But, using whatever combination of all these things will greatly improve the survivability of your house.
One quick survival story. When a fire truck and crew were over taken by a wildfire in a rural neighborhood, their only escape was to abandon their truck and retreat to the inside of a house that they had already tagged as not survivable. Moments later their truck went up, which apparently shorted out some switch wiring, setting off the siren which they said sounded like their truck was screaming for help. Meanwhile the crew went through the house looking for anything liquid they could find including soft drinks, cleaners, etc. Then they were all over the house putting out spot fires on the wooden shake roof, vegetation, etc. Eventually the fire passed and rescue crews found them – and the unprotectable house was saved! So, saving your house on a small budget is not impossible.
I have gotten my GMRS system set up.
I can tune and save freq on my hand held china handhelds,
transmission rane to be deturmined by experiment.
No activity in my region, meaning no repeaters.
I see that regional clubs have set up networks and in that case GMRS may be useful for long range communication.
Going to work withit some more.
myGMRS.com: GMRS Repeater Directory and Community
First of all I have an extra class ham license. I first got my ticket in 96. I am amazed by the paranoia here & to many people talking foolishness about things they know nothing about!
If you dont know what your talking about make it clear it is so, otherwise you make yourself look like a fool.
Someone on the air isn’t going to turn you in to the man, they just wont talk to you. And the ham community isn’t a lot of old snobs. Most are some of the best people you would like to meet but they are people too. Good & bad. Like I said they are people just like you, with all their faults.
If the marxist declare martial law & you are a ham, WTF now they are going to hunt you down now??? What kind of talk is that? Maybe dont say your going to take over the gov or something stupid.
Oh, you listened to a few conversations & now you say it is boring or what ever? WTF? It sounds like you know to much of what you dont know.
Yes it isnt for everyone. Many don’t care for the testing or aren’t smart enough anyway. If you choose to get licensed you will have access to parts of the whole radio spectrum. Repeaters are everywhere. With a handheld you can talk to someone many miles away.
If it aint for you fine. The downside is the other party needs to be licensed also. But I can let my sister talk to mom (who is licensed also) if I announce third party traffic. GMRS works & a license will cover your family. You can even get your own repeater or use someone elses.
My suggestion for an open band is to buy VHF marine radios. Unless you are next to water it is open & no one will know you are using it.
Also you can buy good ham radios that are able to have the frequencies opened so you can talk on other than ham frequencies. Just find a band that is not usually used, like VHF marine.
There is a bunch of negatives to ham radio that has not been fully explored. The cost, the month or two of study, the getting accepted into some group(that might not accept you because of some bias) and you have the government that not only listens to your conversations but takes notes when you discuss prepping.
I am a senior electronics tech and had license to work on radios. Are hams radios good for a regular emergency such as hurricane? Yes they are and they help save lives during an energency
Are they good for an all out failure of our society? No
When society fails there is no need of long range communications where you have to depend on repeaters (that don’t work), people that you do know that you are trying to get info from that may or may not tell you true and people that is listening for evil purposes (PS you do not have to have a license to listen). When a emergency happens that society ends a lot of people that are good people now will change and become just out for what they can get by any means.
Communication short range is also good and bad because the same thing can occur.
To me there is way to many drawbacks to using any type communications during a WAWKIE.
If it is that big a deal with bad guys listening in and trying to find you and your pile of stuff during teotwawki…. this kind of works both ways. If you are positive they’re coming to you, you then have the choice to broadcast at a location of your choosing so that they will come to that location. Good guys might triangulate also.
I’ve seen a few of those videos from Afghanistan where aircraft gunners are getting clearances to fire. There were criteria to getting that permission like carrying weapons, obviously digging to place an IED, after curfew hours, etcetera. I think any rational person in the shtf world would be bearing arms. It would be awful to make a hasty decision and eliminate a good guy or gal. It will perhaps be easier to do so when everyone has their adrenaline up.
I think it would at least be advisable to get a ham transceiver and listen only. Make a decision about your license if you get the itch to start talking on there.
I know that the baofengs aren’t the end-all be-all of radios… I was under the impression as a youth that with the right base station and the right antenna and sometimes the right weather conditions that you could pretty much talk around the world. This would be regardless of any repeaters being there or not there.
I know with a bone-stock Cobra 29 in East TN that I’ve been listening (not talking) to CBers from Florida talk for the last couple of weeks. I would consider that “talking skip”… where their signal bounces off of one of the -spheres, ionosphere, stratosphere, something… granted, I think they are running equipment with extra, illegal power and that facilitates the spread of their communication.
Wood Stock, You can talk skip now with a tower and a 40 channel CB with a set of big john beams because I talked to Japan a lot years ago using skip and a 50 to 1000 watt leaner. But if a EMP happens there will be no skip because the EMP will cause the Ionosphere to be messed up for quite a while. Back when they tested warheads (these produce a smaller EMP than one designed for an EMP attack) above ground it took months for the Ionosphere to get back to normal according to the information from other techs (by then I had went into industrial electronics so I can not say for sure). They said they could not talk skip and the distance of normal communications was reduced.
I was a CBer for years when I was working on radios. I had an old hammerland tube type set tuned perfectly (FCC checked me out because of a complant and found I was putting out 5 watt of power with no blead where actually I was puttining out about 10 watts, the big john beams amplified the wattage with the way I had it set up, ps they only checked the output from the transmitter).
I thought about setting up a slidder where I could recieve and transmit on any frequency but I don’t beieve the expense justifies it.