SHTF Survivalist Radio Lists

By Rebecca August 29, 2017 12:07

SHTF Survivalist Radio Lists

From monkeys in the Amazon Rainforest, to dolphins in the Caribbean, to ants under your picnic table, all species rely on communication with each other for survival. Humans are no different – we rely on communication to both warn and inform us, especially in times of crisis.

In our modern times, the possibility of being unable to easily and quickly communicate with your loved ones or receive vital information from trusted sources is hard to imagine. But in SHTF scenarios, one of the first systems to fail is modern communications. Regardless of the emergency—hurricane, solar flare, nuclear attack, or EMP, to name a few—communications with others will become extremely difficult, if not impossible. Without telephone, text, email, internet, or television, many people will be completely shut off from the outside world at a time when the sharing and receiving of information has never been more important.

Related: How To Make A Tin Can Directional WiFi Antenna to Extend your Communication after an EMP

Just a few examples of the ways you rely on modern forms of communication in emergency situations include:

  • Receiving alerts via text of natural disasters and dangerous weather (for this particular case it is always adviced to learn the lost art of reading nature’s signs);
  • Checking your favorite news app regularly for signs of SHTF;
  • Calling your family to let them know your spouse has to be taken to the emergency room;
  • Listening to the radio for traffic updates, including road closings and delays;
  • Emailing your boss to let them know that you have a flat tire and are going to be late to work.

When our communication is cut off, three things happen immediately:

  1. We lose our ability to send information;
  2. We lose our ability to get information; and
  3. People get scared.

If you are concerned that a SHTF situation, whether natural or man-made, could cut you and your family off from vital information you need to survive, take heart – by using a simple communication device, your family can continue communication with each other and with important sources of help, such as the Red Cross or your local emergency shelter.

To prepare your family for communicating in an emergency, you have several options of communications devices. From devices that just transmit (such as shortwave radio) to devices that will allow full two-way communication with other parties (such as amateur ham radio), each type of device will allow you to stay as up-to-date as possible on emergency situations in your area thanks to special frequencies that broadcast vital information you can use to survive.

Related: How To Tell When People Are Lying to You (in a crisis)

Before we get started on the main types of frequencies used in SHTF communication, it is important to point out that in order to pick up any broadcast, you need a reliable device that you are able to keep charged. Devices with multiple charging options, such as solar-power and hand-crank, provide better insurance against a disaster preventing you from charging your device, while having multiple devices ensure that you will backups in case your main source of communication isn’t functioning.

The main types of frequencies used in SHTF communication:

  1. AM/FM (one-way radio)
  2. SW (shortwave, pre-recorded broadcasts that are listen-only)
  3. NOAA (weather broadcasts, listen-only)
  4. VHF/UHF (amateur ham radio)
  5. FRS (two-way radio, can be used by anyone)
  6. GMRS (two-way radio, requires a license)
  7. MURS (handheld radio or stationary unit)

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages for each. For example, NOAA frequencies are your best bet for hearing notifications of a hurricane in your area; however, should you need emergency assistance because of the hurricane, you can’t use the frequency to call for help. Some devices have frequencies that are available to everyone, while others require a special license in order to broadcast. Prices of devices range widely, as does the level of expertise needed to operate each device. You can choose the device that is right for your family by considering what your communication needs are, your proficiency with each type, whether you will be able to obtain the proper license to broadcast with certain devices, and the budget you are able to spend.

Regardless of the type of device you choose, there are frequencies available for each that will help your family survive emergency situations. To find out which frequencies you should use on three of the most popular prepper communication devices, see our handy reference list below!


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is a government-operated radio system for sending out warnings in the event of a hurricane, solar flare, nuclear attack, and other emergencies. Broadcasts are local and repeated approximately every 5 minutes around-the-clock. You can purchase a special NOAA-enabled radio that is pre-set to the appropriate frequencies and will alert you of emergencies whenever the radio is turned on.

NOAA broadcasts can be heard on the following frequencies:

  • 162.40 MHz
  • 162.425 MHz
  • 162.45 MHz
  • 162.475 MHz
  • 162.50 MHz
  • 162.525 MHz
  • 162.55 MHz
  • 163.275 MHz

Emergency radio frequencies

  • 34.90 & 163.4875: National Guard
  • 39.46: Inter-department emergency communications by local and state police forces
  • 47.42: Red Cross
  • 121.50: International aeronautical emergency
  • 138.225: FEMA Disaster Relief Operations
  • 142
  • 154.28: Local fire departments inter-departmental communications
  • 155.160: Inter-departmental state and local communications during search and rescue
  • 155.475: Inter-departmental emergency communications for state and local police
  • 156.75: Maritime weather alerts
  • 156.80: Maritime distress, calling, and safety
  • 163.5125: National Disaster Preparedness (Armed Forces)
  • 164.50: Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • 168.55: Disaster and emergency channel for civilian agencies of the federal government
  • 243.00: Military aviation emergency
  • 311.00 & 319.40: U.S. Air Force
  • 317.70 & 317.80: U.S. Coast Guard (Aviation)
  • 340.20: U.S. Navy (Aviation)
  • 409.625: Department of State
  • 462.675: General Mobile Radio Service (emergency assistance and traveler assistance)

Amateur Radio Allocations Apr 2017

Technician Class Frequency Privileges In Ham Radio

Band Frequencies (In MHz) Modes You Can Use
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW
40 meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW
15 meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW
10 meters 28.000 – 28.300

28.300 – 28.500

CW, RTTY/data, 200 watts PEP maximum power

CW, phone, 200 watts PEP maximum power

Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; PEP = peak envelope power; RTTY = radioteletype.

General Class Frequency Privileges In Ham Radio

Band Frequencies (in MHz) Mode
160, 60, 30 meters All amateur privileges
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600

3.800 – 4.000

CW, RTTY, data

CW, phone, image

40 meters 7.025 – 7.125

7.175 – 7.300

CW, RTTY, data

CW, phone, image

20 meters 14.025 – 14.150

14.225 – 14.350

CW, RTTY, data

CW, phone, image

15 meters 21.025 – 21.200

21.275 – 21.450

CW, RTTY, data

CW, phone, image

17, 12, 10 meters All amateur privileges
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

CW = Morse code; RTTY = radioteletype.

Common Ham Radio Q Signals

Q Signal Meaning
QRL Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRM Abbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRN Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made
QRO Shall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRP Shall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQ Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRS Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRT Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRU Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRV Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRX Stand by.
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSB Abbreviation for signal fading.
QSL Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSO Abbreviation for a contact.
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all
QSX I am listening on ___ kHz.
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___
QTH What is your location?
My location is ____.


Common Ham Radio Repeater Channel Spacings And Offsets

Band Output Frequencies of Each Group (In MHz) Offset from Output to Input Frequency
6 meters 51.62 – 51.98

52.5 – 52.98

53.5 – 53.98

– 500 kHz
2 meters (a mix of 20 kHz and 15 kHz channel spacing) 145.2 – 145.5

146.61 – 146.97

147.00 – 147.39

– 600 kHz

– 600 kHz

+ 600 kHz

222 MHz or 1-1/4 meters 223.85 – 224.98 – 1.6 MHz
440 MHz or 70 cm (local options determine whether inputs are
above or below outputs)
442 – 445 (California repeaters start at 440 MHz)

447 – 450

+ 5 MHz

– 5 MHz

1296 MHz or 23 cm 1282 – 1288

1290 – 1294

– 12 MHz

CB frequencies

Citizen’s band radio is any easy way for anyone to communicate in an emergency without a license. Standard channels range from 1 – 40, with additional channels being available with freeband operation. Some helpful frequencies to monitor include:

  • Channel 3: Prepper CB Network
  • Channel 4: The American Preppers Network
  • Channel 9: reserved specifically for emergency communications/ REACT channel
  • Channel 19: the channel most widely used by truckers across the country

Emergency communication tips

Whether you choose to monitor NOAA broadcasts or utilize CB and/or ham radio frequencies, there are a few tips that can help you communicate most effectively in an emergency:

  • Have an emergency communication plan in place
  • Don’t limit yourself to only one type of communication: having multiple devices can save your life!
  • If speaking to emergency services, speak slowly and clearly and be able to provide details of your emergency, such as the number of people needing assistance, your location, and any life-threatening injuries
  • In a bug-out situation, the noise of your device may give your location away to others: make sure you are in a safe location before tuning in!

You may also like:

emp strike11 Survival Tricks Learned from Homeless People

How To Make Your Own Back-Up Generator (video)

The First Steps You Should Take Immediately After a CME

Emergency Bag to Keep in Your Car in Case of an EMP

Editor’s Note:

Thank you so much your comments, the frequencies weren’t wrong just incomplete. Unfortunately, our web editor had an error and displayed only the part of the frequencies after the point. I did check them before I posted the article. This is not an excuse as I should have checked them again but I promise I will be more careful next time. I’ve edited the article and now you have the correct frequencies.

By Rebecca August 29, 2017 12:07
Write a comment


  1. Robin August 29, 14:28

    Great info here! Thanks.

    Reply to this comment
  2. oldmathdock August 29, 15:13

    This is a nice compilation of useful channels. Good job!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Mama Vee August 29, 15:18

    Will all of these forms of communication operate in the case of an EMP? If not, what is BEST for this scenario? What about really quality walkie-talkies? What is their range?

    Reply to this comment
    • wa2qcj August 29, 16:55

      A radio, barring the tube type radios, allowed to be exposed to the affects of an EMP are most likely going to be inoperable. In the idea of prepping, putting communications equipment aside, in EMP proof containers is the way to be prepared. One thing that needs to be mentioned is antenna. Most non-technical people are not going to get good, reliable service from radio equipment using the antennas that generally come with the radios. You need to have a good quality coaxial cable on hand, and a larger antenna, even if it is just a very long wire, to send and receive radio signals. The more metal there is to receive signals with, the more the radio user will hear. The people to get to know in your area, are the “HAM” radio operators. Especially those that build their own stuff..

      Reply to this comment
    • Draco1264 August 30, 16:40

      Most expert’s claim turned off battery operated devices shouldn’t be that heavily affected by an emp shock wave. That being said still doesn’t hurt to keep a couple $30 baofeng uv-5r handheld transceivers in a Cooper mesh lined wooden box in the event of a EMP or solar flare with a way to charge them. Such as copper chef grill mats double layered on all sides of a wooden box and then spray foam rubber on the outside to extra insulate it and add a water resistant coating Incase of hurricane or tornadoes in your town.

      Reply to this comment
      • T L October 10, 03:14

        I think a sealed metal ammo can will work better and easier.

        Reply to this comment
        • Steve October 27, 22:05

          For larger/multiple items; a galvanized steel trash can with the lid bonded (electrically connected) to the can body and the body connected to a solid ground connection-a cold water pipe or the outside earth ground for the electrical system-will provide an excellent Faraday shield. ensure that each item going in is wrapped in a conductive bag or aluminum foil and then in a plastic bag so as to be insulated from the interior of the can. In addition to comms gear; think about an E reader loaded with survival and how to info; or maybe a laptop computer with external drives. Don’t forget to load in some entertainment too:; movies, puzzles, games, and music!

          Reply to this comment
          • Kerry October 30, 08:43

            For larger/multiple items; a galvanized steel trash can with the lid bonded (electrically connected) to the can body and the body connected to a solid ground connection-a cold water pipe or the outside earth ground for the electrical system-will provide an excellent Faraday shield. ensure that each item going in is wrapped in a conductive bag or aluminum foil and then in a plastic bag so as to be insulated from the interior of the can. In addition to comms gear; think about an E reader loaded with survival and how to info; or maybe a laptop computer with external drives. Don’t forget to load in some entertainment too:; movies, puzzles, games, and music!

            Reply to this comment
    • vocalpatriot September 6, 10:21

      These, as well as walkie talkies are All subject to potential damage by an emp. That does not guarantee they will be damaged but certainly may. storage in a faradey cage type container would help protect them … As long as they are IN that container when an emp actually strikes. and emp strike can happen any time and multiple times. So proper storage should be a daily behavior, and properly stored back up equipment is the only option to increase our chances for success.

      Reply to this comment
      • Dim Tim October 15, 18:26

        My thoughts exactly since I’ve been a Survivalist/Prepper (Started in the 70’s). Back-ups of all your critical communications should be a must, and have back-ups for your back-ups as well. I know that this is a lot of gear, but better to be safe than sorry, and the more that you have, the better off you will be, especially if you have a good sized group. Equipment can get damaged, crap out, etc, etc,. So it’s always best to have that many for each person (3-4) just in case. Don’t forget support gear as well (chargers, andennas, ear buds, microphones, etc,).

        Reply to this comment
  4. wa2qcj August 29, 16:48

    The Amateur radio list, are the numbers frequency bands, or actual frequencies? The radio lists could use some clarification.

    Reply to this comment
    • Bill August 30, 15:11

      I totally agree with wa2qcj,, channels are useless info,, exact frequencies are.. luckily I’m licensed and already know,, but your info to the public is bogus..

      Reply to this comment
    • Bob August 31, 01:12

      I agree with you, I have access to all these frequencies as I am an emergency oierator with the sheriffs dept. But how can the average person obtain any use with these specs.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Andre August 29, 16:52

    Amateur (Ham) radio uses HF/VHF/UHF
    HF (High Frequency) = SW (Short Wave)

    Reply to this comment
  6. lc65 August 29, 17:40

    Mama Vee – EMPS will knock out ALL electronic equipment. You can protect your equipment by storing them in a Faraday Cage. Walkie Talkies (WT )operate on UHF around 450 MHz, these are referred to above as FRS . They are called Line of Sight. Meaning, you have to be able to transmit in a straight line ( not over hills, mtns ,etc. ). WT So, if you are high on a hill you may transmit up to 10, 20 miles, but in a woods or city maybe only 1-3 miles. Also, very limited by the type of antenna and power output.
    If you want to learn more on this subject go to the AMRRON website and start learning.
    CB radios operate on HF, down around 27 MHz. CB’s can use better antennas and more power ( these are legal considerations ) and have long distance capabilities, but only when atmospheric conditions are perfect. So, nominally better than WT in normal usage and sometimes can be much better.
    It is best to have all your bases covered.
    Also, you should be aware that there are many HAM operators around. They will be up and running in any event. They will have protected equipment as well as power sources and the know how. Find a local club and get to know some.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Rod August 29, 20:26

    Other than the CB channels listed the rest of this list is garbage. I am a licensed amateur and a professional broadcast engineer that deals with nation wide preps for broadcast stations.You can go to the NOAA page and find the real Wx. radio freq’s there. The “Ham Radio” list makes no sense whatsoever and should not be used for anything but starting a fire. You can find the real frequencies by simple internet searches. Let’s not make prepping any harder than it needs to be, folks!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Smitty August 30, 00:09

      I agree with Rod. I also am a ham radio operators and those ham radio frequencies don’t make much sense to me either. They don’t seem to be very accurate. I am very aware of military and maritime frequencies and don’t see that accurate information in the list.

      I know in my area most NOAA frequencies are between 162 and 163 MHz .

      If anyone is serious about wanting to be prepared with ham radio frequencies, I would encourage them to study and get a license and use the equipment. Only then will they be proficient and know what frequencies would be the best one to use.

      Reply to this comment
  8. dave August 29, 22:30

    where did this bogus list of frequencies come from i don’t see one that is a real frequency. sure not something that is usable

    Reply to this comment
  9. Meathead August 29, 23:52

    I teach the local HAM licensing course and I always give the class: (1) Civilian Aviation Distress 121.5 MHz and (2) Military Aviation Distress 243.0 MHz.
    Reason: If they are ever in an emergency situation, can’t make contact with any ground stations and there is an aircraft within sight, use these frequencies to establish contact with the aircraft. The frequencies are constantly monitored and are commonly known as “Guard Frequencies”.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Dino August 30, 01:29

    I agree with Rod, your list doesn’t make much sense. I’m sure your intention was good, but you really should do some research and then re-publish this with corrected info. BTW, no such thing as frequency of zero.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Ray White August 30, 03:07

    Guys, the problem here is editing. For example, where his list reads .00 & 319.0 for US Air Force, it should read 311.00 & 319.40. So he wasn’t saying 00 freq, he just didn’t check to see how his post came through and most of his frequencies got truncated.

    So, as it is the list is junk but a minute on Google revealed this site that had the correct agency and frequency listings.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Rod August 30, 03:24

    Ray, I can understand how editing problems happen, and those of us who are extremely experienced in communications can figure this out easily. What concerns me is that those who are just being introduced to this information for the first time could become easily confused and when they try to use these frequencies and nothing works, will become frustrated and give up, hurting their chances for survival. I would suggest that this article be re-written and frequencies be presented in a table, with service, frequency, modulation type, and whether or not it needs licensing, or in the case of military frequencies whether they can be only used for receiving. The two aircraft guard frequencies are a good example of ones that can be used in a two-way fashion only in emergency. This table can also have a column for notations like that. Those of us with communications experience end up with an automatic knowledge when we see a frequency. The majority of people do not, and do not know what AM or FM means. They just know one is clear and the other can be very noisy. In my job I have to write instructions for people who are less than technically inclined so I automatically try to look at what information I am trying to convey from that perspective. I applaud the effort and willingness to write this or any other article. This one isn’t quite ready for prime time and I would hope the author takes our criticisms as helpful suggestions and not derogatory statements.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ray White August 30, 03:44


      Good idea. Sounds like an article you could write.

      Reply to this comment
    • Pat October 10, 17:33

      Any comments on 10 meter? They are a favorite of many truck drivers. Could be extremely useful if something national could be set up.

      Reply to this comment
      • Rod October 10, 19:51

        Yes, I have a comment on 10 meters, Pat. Communications on 10 meters is only allowed to Amateur Radio Operators. 11 meters, just below 10 meters, is the Citizen Band frequencies that are normally associated with truckers and others. That being said, I am quite aware of 10 meter radios that are used by many without appropriate licensing.

        Reply to this comment
  13. Rod August 30, 03:56

    Yes, I probably could, one of these days. Right now I am a bit burned out from writing having written and submitted 3 different EAS plans for a state that are in at the FCC for their study and then decision of which one they are going to approve. I spent the last two months focused on that and another project so I am taking a break from writing for a bit and giving myself some “play time” working on my personal comms that I have neglected for a few years. I have written a few articles for prepper sites but usually on EMP preps. I may put something together as winter sets in. Thanks for the idea, and thanks for thinking I could do it!

    Reply to this comment
  14. EK August 30, 03:56

    It does not take an EMP to make the cellular system unreliable. We went to view the solar eclipse in a remote rural area, and the network was completely overwhelmed by the many visitors, some from out of state and even from other countries. My family, which had travelled there at different times in several vehicles, was able to coordinate using decent quality walkie-talkies. We would have missed sharing this event together without them as all voice and data was gone and even simple texts were delayed.

    Reply to this comment
  15. New Prepper August 30, 14:32

    I would really appreciate a list of affordable and available radios along with communication lists. Nice to say that you need this or that type of radio, but doesn’t help much if I don’t know brands and who carries them in stock.

    Reply to this comment
    • SheepDog August 31, 15:42

      @New Prepper
      I agree 100%. This is what I was expecting in this article. A follow up with this information would be greatly appreciated.

      Reply to this comment
    • Draco1264 August 31, 15:59

      Baofeng uv-5r are $30 on Amazon and highly portable. I keep mine on me and listen to the police ban Incase of traffic accidents on my route.

      Reply to this comment
      • lc65 August 31, 17:10

        This is a great buy if you are limited in funds and want a lot of bang for the buck. Many prepper types have these. You can buy better antennas and the batteries are rechargeable. The radio operates on 2 HAM bands. 2M and 0.75M. You can pick up the FRS and GMRS frequencies as well.
        My biggest complaint is that they are ” relatively ” difficult to program.
        There are also a lot of videos on youtube to help out with usage.
        Remember, these are HAM radios. It is legal to listen on all freq. but illegal to tranmit ( unless an emergency )

        Reply to this comment
        • New Prepper September 2, 00:16

          Thanks Draco1264 an ic65,
          Nice getting feedback that is helpful. I suspect in an emergency the FCC won’t be interested in who’s broadcasting useful information.


          Reply to this comment
      • Dan September 30, 23:54

        The uv-5r are ok for what they are. I programmed mine with Chirp. But they do me no good to listening to fire and police in my area because they have gone digital a few years back.

        Reply to this comment
  16. wa2qcj August 30, 14:59

    Thank you for the update. This is worth writing down. Something to keep in mind, there are satellites that would continue to operate. Amateur radio has such as this in orbit now. Getting to it is not hard.

    Reply to this comment
  17. DJnRF September 2, 22:06

    I had tried to post my info on here but it was when there was a problem with the site. I notified the author of the site and he explained the ‘why’ his info was not complete. He suggested that I re-post my info. However, several in here have now corrected, or given more info.

    What everyone seems to miss regarding frequencies is that every state, county, or other local government has frequencies for their area. All are within the proper ones assigned to their type of service by the FCC, but not all are those the same across the country in every area.

    The FCC assigns groups of frequencies for Police use, or Fire Dept use, or many other different types of service. This also includes commercial broadcast frequencies, private enterprise business, or those for general use transmitting frequencies.

    Frequencies used for civilian contact of frequencies monitored by different government agencies (including the military) for emergencies are constant, and can always be found. The only difference is that the particular method of transmission can be AM, FM, or
    SSB. You cannot use an FM radio to contact an AM unit, or an SSB unit, etc. The ‘modulation’ (basically how your voice or signal is transmitted) is different between those three. An Amplitude Modulation transmission cannot be heard by a Frequency Modulation radio receiver even if on the same frequency. (ie: 156.275)

    If you are going to always be in your own local area in an emergency, your best choice is a radio that is on those frequencies for your area, and are most likely on FM. You MAY NOT transmit anything on the local frequencies for emergency if it is NOT an actual emergency. Check to see if your area has a station that monitors on one of the CB frequencies for a general use radio. In that way you can also use it for much other type of personal use by portable, mobile, or base. You may, of course, listen on many of those local frequencies, but listening to a weather alert radio is always legal. Emergencies will be transmitted by that service as well as your local broadcast stations of TV and radio.

    If you want some radio service outside of your area you can still use CB, but may also use the FRS (Family Radio Service) radios. However, you are limited on range of those by the power only allowed for those frequencies. Those are all portable units as mobile would be too high power for legal use. Some of the radios on the FRS frequencies are also on the GMRS
    service. Those particular GMRS frequencies on FRS radios are also limited on power, but you can get a license on the GMRS service to have portable, mobile, or base station radios with much higher power, and, therefore, must greater range. This is a general use service for personal and small business use. It may not be one where anyone in the area of the area of your emergency that is monitored by anyone. Where it might be great in your area, another area might not have anyone also on that frequency since your station frequency is assigned by the FCC. Frequencies assigned by the FCC are usually assigned to keep stations from interfering with each other. That can mean that no one else is close to you for your emergency. (Back now to the CB radio frequencies)

    Your best bet is a portable radio that can be programmed to actual emergency frequencies you would need, and just not use them except for real
    emergencies. OR more expensive equipment that can contact governmental emergency channels. These may be portable, mobile or stationary radios. If you are near, or on water the marine radios have an emergency frequency that is monitored in most areas. If you have an airplane, those radios have an emergency frequency.

    Most of the radios you might need with higher power for a greater transmission range are also more expensive to purchase, and require a FCC license.

    The best overall would be a amateur (Ham) radio on one, or more of the bands. This also requires a license, but they are not hard to get. You must read up on, or take some class from a local Ham operator to get. You will have a test to pass, but can then be issued your license. The cost for that is overall much less than the
    commercial type license. Those radios can be had that are able to get to many areas. Even if you would get a Ham to respond to your emergency call that is way out of your area, he will be able to get you help in your area.

    You can look online to find many emergency frequencies, but not all will be monitored to hear you within your area. Do NOT merely get a radio you THINK will be what you need before checking on what you might need for your area, or all areas.

    The suggestion posted in here about contacting a local Ham operator is darn good advice. He will be able to help you, and give you advice of where to find whatever you might need for equipment, or help.

    The information in this web post should be understood to be one to show you that there are many different options with some frequencies, but not intended to be all the information you may need. It should be that it is showing you that you must do research and thinking of what you will be best to need for your area or emergency.

    Reply to this comment
    • Rod September 3, 01:46

      I would like to add something to the above good information. Public Service (LEO, FD, EMS) especially at the State level are using “trunking” and digital modulation more and more. Trunking is where there are a group of frequencies, but a conversation may not be on the same frequency at all times. This technique is used to increase the number of users in a smaller amount of frequency space. It also makes “scanning” with a conventional scanner quite difficult. You will need a scanning receiver that can be programmed to follow each “talk group” so that a conversation can be followed. Digital modulation is just that. It is another modulation type like AM, FM, or SSB. You will need a receiver capable of handling the particular type of digital modulation that you are trying to receive. There is also digital encryption, and unless you are some kind of computer AND electronic wunderkind, don’t even worry about it. The radios that use this are all programmed independently with an algorithm programmed by the vendor at time of delivery. The newer systems can be reprogrammed remotely in case an encrypted radio is compromised.

      Reply to this comment
      • DJnRF October 11, 01:18

        Rod, this is excellent information. I had neglected to mention these newer popular methods as many areas outside of larger metropolitan areas are not able to afford such communications. In the state of Illinois 72% of the state is rural volunteer agencies without the funding to go to these methods of communications. Very few can even qualify for Federal grants to allow these agencies to go this route for communications.
        In my area of Central IL only one municipality has recently taken this route, and they have still not gotten it working fully, smoothly, and efficiently after over a year in use. They still must additionally use the ‘old’ method. Very large areas in the country made the change some years back, and have even been able to upgrade, but it all takes the big money. I believe that the old, simple communications systems will still be in use, especially for emergency communications from the public, for many years yet. You, and many others on here know of these newer systems, but we shouldn’t make things more confusing to those that don’t. None of those people would know of what to get, and could not afford it to cover all contingencies. For most it becomes the KISS principle: (Keep it simple, stupid) Those of us who know of these ‘sublime’ systems tend to forget about those that don’t when we disseminate information. Your previous post that states, “In my job I have to write instructions for people who are less than technically inclined so I automatically try to look at what information I am trying to convey from that perspective.” must also apply here.

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      • DJnRF October 11, 01:38

        A note on Baofeng portable radios.
        These radios are cheap, and do have a complex method to program, but do work well for very short distances on transmit, and are also limited to receiving only close or powerful base stations without a good, mounted antenna. For use in your car, a good auto mount roof top antenna works best. For home use a good battery eliminator (power supply) and an outside mounted antenna work even better. But ….. for not much more money you can also buy a radio for use in a 12 volt system (mobile radio) that has more power and must also use a better antenna system. To get one and have it set for the most commonly monitored radio frequencies for emergency use would be a much better, and more useful system. Remember, that any emergency transmissions do not require a license on any frequency, For your own personal communications you can get a license for a frequency. You can also program in other frequencies for receive only listening.
        I have a couple of the Baofeng potables, but I have a good mobile and good base radio. I have a number of frequencies I am authorized to transmit on, but I also have a couple of ‘personal’ frequencies and a number of receive only frequencies. (such as weather) Just take your time, research for your area, and talk to ‘radio’ people and shops before you look to buy a particular radio. You don’t want to waste your money on something that in an emergency does not do the job for you, and why waste it on those just to listen to frequencies that you will never use. Get what you need to do the job. (Don’t buy a pellet gun to hunt big game, and don’t buy a 375 Magnum to hunt squirrels.) Research, and think!

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  18. DJnRF October 10, 16:38

    As an example of where a listed emergency radio frequency herein is not one that can be depended upon as a method to contact help I list one for my area.

    154.28 is given here as for local fire departments inter-departmental communications.

    That frequency here is one of the MABAS frequencies.
    (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System)
    Whereas this frequency is used as an inter-departmental frequency, it is not monitored for other emergency traffic.

    When a department has an event where they may be overextended for their own resources they call their local dispatch and order a ‘Box Alarm’. That department has a list of all agencies and the resources that may be called out for such mutual aid. There is usually a need for several ‘Boxes’ to be called out. Each box calls out for only those resources listed in that box. If it is a very major aircraft crash of a large jumbo jet with many on board that crashes into a major community, there will be a huge need for many engines, rescue teams, and ambulances. Calling for boxes that will provide all the needed manpower, equipment, and other resources is what must be done. If 100 ambulances are needed, this type of call will get them.

    Now, as for that frequency: It is NOT used to make the call for resources. Your LOCAL frequency is used to your LOCAL dispatch who will make a multiple frequency call out to all the ‘Box’ systems requested. AFTER all agencies and resources are on scene, the 154.280 frequency is used as ONE of the six MABAS frequencies in THIS state for the needed communications for THIS mass casualty emergency.

    Do NOT merely list all these frequencies as what you will actually need for anything. You MUST check for what actual frequencies are used in your area. Each area, county, and state may use different frequencies than are listed herein.

    If you would look into the FCC frequency assignment bands that include many different frequencies. Your area may have numerous agencies/ departments that used several of these frequencies as they are assigned.

    The easiest way to know which frequencies are used for your area is to ask your local agencies and departments’ dispatch centers. Most will have at least one frequency that is monitored that you can legally use for an emergency call for help. But, also remember that any radio you have where you are not allowed to transmit on that frequency does not count when the emergency is for a threat to life. ANY radio frequency may be used for that type of call.

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  19. wa2qcj October 11, 13:41

    10 Meters, IF they are licensed as ‘HAM’S’ to use that frequency, there are many existing nets on 10 meters. As a side note, 10 meters is not 11 meters. 11 meters is CB territory. One popular 10 meter net is the 10-10 net. It is a CW, or Morse code net. Not to worry those that are unable for any of a number of reasons to not be functional with CW, there are programs available that mimic CW. True, a good CW operator will know, but should also be very understanding, and helpful. In an emergency, that is a different story and ALL good hams will do whatever it takes to get the message through. If searching for a Patriotic few, look to HAM’s. One of the big issues for 10 meters though is propagation issues. The solar issues that affect the upper areas of the atmosphere can play havoc on 10 meters. One day, with 1 watt you can talk to the world, next day, 1000 watts and you can’t get across town. It is, that variable.

    This Message is from Mr. Kerry Keel. It has been checked by AVG, and is Virus free.

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    • DJnRF October 11, 14:07

      All the talk about 10 Meters not being a CB radio has been a moot issue with many CB’ers. Many have purchased a 10 Meter rig to convert to CB frequencies due to the power difference that can be from the 10 Meter rig.
      Those who do that are not using the 10 Meter frequencies, but the CB 11 Meter frequencies with the higher power of the radio. Now, this is also illegal, but it has been done for many years, and I don’t know of any that have ever been stopped, or prosecuted for doing so.
      Therefore, with all the talk about the use of CB’ers and 10 Meter radios, you now know why they have done so, and that most likely how it is used by them.
      In working on so many radios over the years I have never converted one in that way, but I have known many that had them converted. I even had several brought to me for work, but always rejected them if for a CB’er.

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      • wa2qcj October 12, 21:07

        They get away with it because there are to many of them for the FCC to prosecute. The FCC only goes for those that are making a big target of themselves in breaking the law.

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        • DJnRF October 12, 21:35

          Sadly, I know. Only high-ups and major divisions of Gov get the people and money to do what they want, but not necessarily what is needed. The rest just get funding and people cuts.

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  20. DIM TIM October 15, 18:59

    Okay, all you HAM operators should be sharing your info with everyone that has the interest, and I know a lot of you do, and that’s fine. But some don’t.
    BUT, I know there are a number of you out there that bad mouth FRS/GMRS and CB radios since they are pretty much short range communications, and not something that most of you tend to use. And I stress that not all of you do it, but to be fair, these types of communications radios should not be left out of a communications plan for preparedness. The Marine Band radios also would have their place as well in a major SHTF event as long as they were working, as long as those using them had mutual people that had the same for support, and as long as it was a TRUE SHTF event, because I don’t seriously think that the FCC and the powers that be would trouble someone using them, especially if it was a survival situation where they were being used.
    I’ve talked with a number of HAM operators that look down on CB radio operators especially, and I admit that there are some real idiots out there that use them and gave the CB thing a bad rep, but in a survival situation, you can be sure that the “gloves will come off”, and that anything goes then. I personally am buying (as I can afford it) a broad spectrum of different types of these types of radios, simply because it is in my best interest and the interest of my group to do so. And this is because anyone with any kind of military training will tell you the same thing that they have told me…..”If you don’t have good communications…YOU DON’T HAVE JACK ” !!!

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  21. Bridget October 18, 21:48

    Here are two things you should have for prepping.

    The first are rechargeable radios. The second, a solar charging unit they can be plugged into as needed.

    Reply to this comment
    • DJnRF October 27, 23:02

      Where it is good to have such radios and chargers, you must not buy the wrong frequency radios for your emergency needs. The radios you have shown ar 1 watt and 4 watt radios in the UHF band. Most frequencies one will need must be in the VHF band. Also, anything with this higher power (over 1 or 2 watts) requires an FCC license to legally operate. Most all of the FRS radios fall in the lower power range. Of course, the low power radios will not transmit a signal that is not a clear line of sight to the receiving station. My suggestion is to get the high power, and a license.

      Also, whereas the solar panels work great, you can find others that work as well, but for much less cost. There are many different portable solar charges out there that you can find. Also, remember, the higher the wattage on a solar panel charger, the faster it will charge your equipment. Just watch the output voltage on the panel, or have a charge controller for it.

      Reply to this comment
      • Kerry October 30, 08:43

        Solar panels, flexible panels now exist. I saw one on Amazon that is 18 feet long, about 16 inches wide, and produces 136 watts. Cost was $136. It is of the peel and stick variety, if you care to attach it to something. In a worst case scenario, those road signs are a source, so are those seen providing power to various pieces of equipment. For batteries, get traction motor batteries, such as those used on electric forklifts. Even if the battery is “bad”, it can be taken apart and rebuilt as a different voltage battery. These monsters are designed to provide 2 volts per cell, at over 1000 amps, continuously. Put enough in parallel and you might be able to crank your house for a few days.

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      • Kerry October 30, 08:44

        For solar panels I would be very careful with those that come with some solar panels. They operate by pulsing the panel output voltage, thus “regulating” the voltage, supposedly. It is a good way to destroy a battery. If “you” want a regulator, get one that uses a steady DC input and makes it a lower voltage. A salvaged regulator from a DC power supply, one of the heavy analog types, will do the job. A point to remember, the input voltage MUST be at least 3 volts higher than the desired output voltage. That 3 volt difference is required by the regulator chip that is in most regulator sections of the power supply regulator. 15 volts from a solar panel can be a steady 12 volts to the radio. I realize many radios, especially the larger vehicle radios, want 13 volts. The only issue with 12 volts as opposed to 13 volts is lower power output.
        For the lower power, or higher frequency radios, height above the ground gets very important. So does the antenna. The “rubber duck” antennas that come with hand held radios are almost useless. For close operation, they are okay. For better use, a longer half wave antenna is vastly better. If the radio has a twist lock, or screw on antenna, then a coax cable can be used to feed the radio signal to a better verticle, oe beam type antenna. Either of these can improve the capability of the radio. High power RF helps, the best possible antenna that can be afforded, or built, trumps higher power in many applications. High power RF in a poor antenna is worse than low power into a good antenna. Do not short yourself on the antenna. For the HAM radio band for 2 meters, a good antenna length is about 19 inches. A radiator that is adjustable is a good idea. The formulas for determining frequency length in meters is an easy one. It is found in almost all books devoted to radio and antennas. The ARRL is a good resource.
        Licensing, get it now. The cost for administration of dealing with the test is $15. First level license is the Technician class license. There is no code testing any more. International law did away with that. There are other “digital” methods that do as well as Morse Code. They require the use of a computer of some kind though. If the SHTF, no one is going to care if you are licensed. That said, if martial law is enacted, having a license might be a VERY good idea.

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  22. Rod November 7, 21:49

    I have read a lot of the posts on this thread and after having 40+ years of professional communications experience I have one bit of advice to offer. Radio equipment, like all survival equipment, will be something that you expect your life to depend on someday. Seeing all of this inexpensive radio junk being discussed gives me pause. While I more than understand that 99% of us cannot afford $1K+ portable radios, I also know that this cheap junk will not hold up under any kind of stress. I have heard too many reports of these kinds of radios having horrendous audio almost to the point of being unusable. It does you no good to be unable to understand what is being transmitted. There are good used radios at a $100 price point that will give you excellent service. Talk with land mobile techs and amateurs in your area and they can steer you towards this type of equipment. There are many local government auctions that sell this type of equipment by the box full, but be careful. Make sure that the equipment you buy does not rely upon a repeater or other equipment. Make sure it works radio to radio direct. Again, land mobile techs and amateurs can help you with this. The usual licensing disclaimers apply.

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  23. Ron November 11, 03:17

    Individuals should contact the local Ham Radio Club, ARES, RAces or Emergency management Office for local frequencies. Most occurrence of emergencies in a local area the HAM Radio operators will have VHF/UHF communication established within a few hours.

    Reply to this comment
  24. CrAcKeR 1710 November 26, 04:37

    A bunch of GREAT info here for sure!

    Reply to this comment
  25. Infidel January 6, 22:57

    Great info!
    I pick up cheap CB’s mostly. Haven’t stumbled on any sideband units cheap though. I also have a few radios in the low fire band, and some hand held police radios. In a SHTF scenario, I don’t think Uncle Charley is going to be worrying about a few odd broadcasts on the emergency channels.
    Another good place to store electronics. I keep my radios in a metal filing cabinet, inside of a metal barn.
    I can’t use my cell phone in the barn, so it’s a Faraday cage, and the filing cabinet, makes it redundant. I’m not too worried about water. If I flood, watch for Noah.

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  26. March 15, 18:09

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    Reply to this comment
  27. ENIGMA6 May 10, 22:35

    Before I started advertising my location for all to hear, it would be prudent to listen for traffic on the radio on all bands that you have available. Not all on the radio are harmless. I certainly wouldn’t advertise that I had plenty of food, medical supplies, water purification chemicals. Or weak and defenseless people in the group. People will already kill for no reason other than you looked at them funny. Hopefully, it won’t take long for that type to disappear, but certainly they would kill you for your supplies. For a time it will be necessary to be as ruthless as they.

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  28. Smokewagon September 22, 00:49

    man you commo guys are some real winners. can’t any of you use tact? The guy is at least trying to help the general public for times of distress. give him a break. Or is that not a part of the coms community? sure hope you guys dont show up to help me.

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  29. Dan January 11, 14:05

    I have been a scanner listener for years. For those that would like to listen for information that’s going on in the area only, and not want to transmit could benefit from have a handheld scanner. Have some FRS/GMRS HT’s for very local comms to stay intouch with neighbors or family members that venture out. What do you guys think about this for basic intel/communications?

    Reply to this comment
    • Dan September 30, 23:43

      I’ve been a scanner listener for decades. I think a scanner is a great idea for those that just want to listen. And a scanner scans ( no pun intended ) the frequencies I have input much faster than any of my amateur radio gear. Listening on the scanner for a couple of years encouraged me to get my tech license. I kept upgrading to extra., but that’s me.

      I still use FRS/GMRS ht’s with the grand kids. Inexpensive and easy for them to use. Range less than a mile on open unobstructed terrain. Don’t let the hype on the package of 36 miles fooll you. It’s grossly over rated. Well, unless your on a very tall structure with nothing else around and straight line of site..maybe..LOL

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  30. Zelda Ella September 25, 11:35

    I think each kind of radio has its own advantages. Just choose which one you think is suitable. Besides this post is quite interset. I like it

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