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.

The Ready America Website

Ready America?

I am always on the look out for information on long term food storage and emergency preparedness. If you are like me and desire to read everything you can on the subject, you’ll want to check out one of the federal government’s websites on Emergency Preparedness. Just head on over to the Ready America website.

The Ready America website was launched in February 2003 by FEMA, as a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans, and to encourage them to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist targets.

I have read and watched everything on this website. It has many instructional videos, pamphlets, and publications. To visit the Publications page, just go to the Ready America Publications page.

On the Publications page, one of the things you will find is the “Are You Ready?” manual. It is a 204 page in-depth guide to citizen preparedness and is great reading for anyone interested in the subject.



All is Safely Gathered In – The LDS Church and Food Storage

Freeze Dried Food - All Is Safely Gathered In

I have known and worked with a lot of Mormons over the past 26 years. They have a strong sense of family and a keen awareness about food storage. Whether or not you agree with the LDS Church or the Mormon faith is irrelevant to our discussion. These people know a lot about food storage. The church advises their members to do it, the majority of them do do it, and they are organized. They have a collection of canning facilities and warehouses scattered throughout the U.S.

The other day, I came across a pamphlet I had not seen before. It was entitled, “All Is Safely Gathered In“. It was distributed by the LDS Church in 2007, and encouraged its members to have a supply of food and water. I would like to quote three paragraphs from that document because it sums up the idea of food storage quite nicely.

“We encourage Church members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.

We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.

We realize that some of you may not have financial resources or space for such storage. Some of you may be prohibited by law from storing large amounts of food. We encourage you to store as much as circumstances allow.”

If you are looking for a simple explanation, and a case for food storage, I think you have found it.

Prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.



Family Members Who Have Special Needs

Freeze Dried Food - Grandparents and Babies Need to be Planned for Too!

Freeze Dried Food and other types of food storage are not the only things you should be storing for an emergency. Some members of your family may have special needs that need to be taken into account. You should store these items too.

The Elderly

Older members of your family you care for will have special needs you need to plan for. Here is a partial list of items to have on hand:

  • Prescription Medications – this includes any medications needed on a daily basis. This could be heart, blood pressure medication, insulin, etc.
  • Denture Needs
  • Eyeglasses, Contacts, and Cleaning Supplies
  • Disposable Undergarments
  • Walkers, canes, sit stools, etc.


Babies need lots of things on a daily basis. Here are some items to take into consideration:

  • Medications
  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Powdered Milk
  • Moist towelettes
  • Disposable Diapers and/or Cloth Diapers
  • Diaper Rash Ointment
  • Baby Powder
  • Baby Carriers

Freeze Dried Food - Pet Supplies Need to Be Stored Too!


Pets are not just our beloved companions, they are members of our families. Here are some common pet items that you should consider storing:

  • Pet Food
  • Food Bowls, Water Bowls
  • Pet Carriers
  • Cat Litter and Litter Box
  • Pet Collars
  • Pet Leads

Store What Your Family Eats

Freeze Dried Food - Wheat Stalks and Bread

Store What Your Family Eats. This basic point about food storage is very simple, yet often overlooked in people’s haste to put a food store together as fast as possible.

If you just store a year’s supply of staples (bulk food items) in six gallon buckets or #10 cans, and then forget about them and think that you are done, you are going to have a rude awakening when the “ship hits the sand”.

First of all, you have to store what your family eats on a regular basis. Often I am asked to look at a friend’s food storage and give them my opinion. Sometimes I see that they have only stored staples like wheat, flour, beans, rice, sugar, salt, honey, non-fat instant milk. Am I supposed to believe that this is all their family eats on a regular basis? No one eats this kind of diet, at least not in the West.

You have to store the kinds of foods that your family eats on a regular basis. In addition, you have to use what you have stored, so you know what to do with it when the “big one” happens. If you just store staples, and never practice cooking with it, you will starve during a prolonged emergency.

In addition to the food you have stored, you have to store everything needed to prepare the stored food. Now, if you have opted for a year’s supply of freeze dried food, you could probably get by with just storing that. But often, the freeze dried year supply consists solely of complete meals, so what will you do at snack time?

Are you going to give Chicken and Rice to your seven year old at snack time? You should plan to store snacks as well.

The main theme in food storage is variety. You have to have variety in order to not become disgruntled and unhappy with your stores. Whatever you have stored, make sure it is well-rounded, and that you have learned how to use it beforehand. This will make the eating portion of life during a disaster a lot more tolerable, and enjoyable.