Emergency Communications for TEOTWAWKI, Part 1

Amateur Radio Handheld

This is Part 1 of a series on Emergency Communcations for TEOTWAWKI.

If you are not familiar with the acronym TEOTWAWKI, it stands for “The End Of The World As We Know IT”. People in emergency preparedness circles like to throw the term around because it is kind of funny. However, if it ever actually happens, it won’t be funny, trust me.

While we are on the subject, another favorite acronym is SHTF. This stands for “S____ Hits the Fan”. You will see this one used as well. TEOTWAWKI and SHTF both mean the same thing. When the big event happens.

So, when the big one does happen, having access to at least one piece of emergency communications equipment will not only make your life much easier, it may actually save the life of you and your family. That’s why I will be talking about the different types of emergency communications that you can use both in everyday and emergency use.

Most people today have a cell phone that they carry with them at all times. Cell phones are very useful in emergencies. The only problem with them is that in widespread disasters and emergencies, service is often out. So, what do you do then?

When the power is off, when phones are out, when the internet is down, and when emergency services (police, fire, hospital, etc.) are overwhelmed, amateur radio operators (commonly referred to as “hams”) are always there to take up the slack as emergency communcations volunteers. They are generally able to operate immediately after a disaster takes place, because a large majority of them have emergency power systems.

You don’t have to be a ham radio operator to have emergency communications capabilities during a disaster. Of course, I am biased and think that ham radio is best. Because, I’ve had my license since 1990. Even with my bias, I will be talking about all methods of emergency communcations, including amateur radio.

There are some criteria that need to be met in an emergency communications system:

  • It should be easy to operate.
  • It should have an effective range.
  • It should have a modest amount of protection against interference.
  • It should be inexpensive (low initial cost, low maintenance cost, and no monthly fees).
  • It should be readily available.
  • It should be able to be operated “off the grid”.

There are at least five different communications systems that meet these criteria. Each has pros and cons. You should examine each and decide which one fits your own needs and your budget. We will talk about each of these types in Part 2.

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