Self-sufficiency is all well and good, but if you want to live with some semblance of normalcy in the aftermath of an unforeseen catastrophe; communication, is key.
Tyler Durden would have you believe: "Soap: it's the yardstick of civilization," and while that may be, in order to have a civilization in the first place, one must first be civil, and civility is wrought by the observance of: rules, guidelines, boundaries and laws. Hence the implicit need for communication.
The following bit of kit has been brought together and put forth as a spring-board of sorts as to what one would/could need if it all went sideways and you were were left with whatever you had on hand to establish/rebuild/contact a functioning society*.
*Society: a stable stage of communal development established along the path toward the development of a true civilization*.
*Civilization: the stage of human social development and organization that is considered the most advanced.
Step 1: "The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men"
For those unfamiliar with the phrase: it comes from poem written in 17-something-er-other by some dude (Robert Burns). The last bit of the aforementioned stanza goes, "oft do go awry."
Regardless of what you have or what you don't, having a plan in place with which to contact loved ones and gather information is an important constituent of having a solid kit.
Established frequencies (with regard to HAM/CB/FMRS/GMRS radio)
Established time of contact (i.e. top of the hour, every hour. Five minutes after sundown etc.)
Knowledge of NOAA, AM/FM/SW frequencies used for dissemination of emergency information.
Established out of state emergency contact for localized disaster scenarios
Emergency phone tree
Emergency contact lists (friends, family etc.)
Social media contact i.e. Facebook Safety check program: https://www.facebook.com/about/safetycheck/
Which ever route you should so chose you've got to commit, or it's worse then worthless due to the presumed sense of security allotted those who talk the talk but don't actually take that step towards preparedness
Step 2: "Eyes and Ears Open Dear Boy..."
There are a great many means by which one can communicate; active, passive, acoustic, visual, long or short range. Choose which means will work best for whatever scenario you envision. Contained there in are the methods I've opted for;
Having a small AM/FM/SW is an intelligent idea. I've gone one step further and included a Small dual band (UHF-VHF) HAM radio (Baofeng UV-5R). I've gotten rid of the stock lithium ion battery and replaced it with a (AAA) battery pack bought off e-bay for a pittance. I've also added a telescopic antenna (Na-733) to increase it's effective range.
* A word of caution: Generally listening on a ham radio is okay. However transmitting without a license is illegal and can result in steep fines and penalties
I'm still new to HAM and as such have no advice to give with regards to it's operation however I will say that as with anything practice makes perfect.
Here's a decent ible ta get ya started: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Talk-to-Som...
Step 3: "A Man Cannot Live by Bread Alone"
In the previous step, I introduced my little HAM radio; a modded Baofeng Uv-5r. In this step I want to take a sec and introduce what all is necessary, in my eyes, to make it a truly useful bit of kit.
A watch: The watch I've chosen is a Casino ATC-1100 I bought off the bay for $35.00USD shipped (actually cost more then the HAM). It could be any old watch really, but I thought it'd be of benefit having an altimeter, barometer and electronic compass on hand with a minimal footprint. Having a watch is a must if your contact methodology requires specific times of contact. It can also be helpful to discern distance traveled allowing you to relay that information as necessary.
Rite in the rain note pad and fisher Space pen: Any ol'note pad would suffice, but I saw this one while binge browsing/buying on ebay late one night... You know how it is. I like that, not only can it get wet and won't degrade; but that it has a number of navigation/communication aids/references contained there in. I've also gone through and jotted down some of the emergency frequencies for my area, and contact numbers of friends and family just in case. I think a note pad is really a necessity when it comes to HAM, being able to document different QSO's as needed. You can, of course, always use them to write a note too!
Battries; Duh! Lithium ion 12XAAA's. Enough for two complete replacements. Exp. 2034
Battery checker: These little guys are handy as hell, but I haven't seen them for sale in recent months. Thankfully, I bought a handful of these a few years back and threw one in this kit. Sometimes it's only one battery that's causing a device not to function. This helps you weed out the "bad eggs" so that you've not burning through batteries as quickly. The only down side is, that it too, requires a battery, a single Cr2032. Thankfully these last for a year or more off of a single battery.
Step 4: Search & Rescue Paraphernalia.
Rounding out the kit are a few odds and ends I thought would come in handy as it pertains to search and rescue/signaling:
Modded life gear: battery operated glow stick: https://www.instructables.com/id/LIfe-Gear-aerial-s...
I've added a lanyard to facilitate air marshelling/signaling. Not too much else to say besides; check the 'ible for further intel.
"Radioactive" bread crumbs: Actually, these are strike indicators for night fishing. I'm not a huge fan of single use items but for shear the number of these (19) I can cram into such a small foot print I figured it'd be worth it. If I were truly lost and had to stray from a broken trail I could leave one of these behind every 100yrds or so. Now, I'm all about leaving no trace, but in an emergence it's better to leave a trace then a body, no?
I've experimented with these and found them to actually last a bit longer then their larger counter parts, typically about 24 hrs. I love that these require no power source and cannot be affected by the outside environment, save for them possibly blowing away or being covered over by leaves of course, no possibility of animals absconding with them either. Hansel and Gretel would be proud!
Faux-Fox-40 whistle: Solid plastic w/o a pea (they can freeze up and fail in cold weather). Fewer components fewer things to foul. I've gussied it up with a retractable lanyard clip augmented an avery high vis reflective sticker. IN a real emergency this could easily be moved to either my person or my pack as necessary.
Dollar store "special" lantern: Not to be used so much for signaling as for saving the back light on the Beofang and the life gear glow stick. It's also omni-directional with helps in a tight spot.
Step 5: Conclusions Drawn
In a weight to capability ratio this kit is a welterweight packing a heavyweight's right cross; weighing in at a little over 1 pound 8oz I've the capacity to communicate several miles, possibly several more tripping local repeaters. I carry with me enough power to run continually for about a week or more or intermittently for upwards of a month.
The pen & pad I've included allow for the added capability to take/leave notes as needed.
Also, a nice little addition, due to the ACT-1100, is the ability to determine time/altitude/bearing and barometric pressure.
All in all, this is a great bit of kit of which I'm pretty proud. I could add a signal mirror which I am considering but I haven't found any models I'm too keen on yet. Figure I'll put one together myself one of these days.
Hopefully you've found this informative/interesting. It was as always a pleasure to write. Please feel free to comment/favorite & follow! Cheers ya'll