Disaster Preparedness: Communications Bundle





Introduction: Disaster Preparedness: Communications Bundle

About: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For w...

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



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    24 Discussions

    Good gear but I think too much reliance on electronics.

    Very useful instructions on compiling a very capable communications kit. One other thing, not sure if you thought of this, might be a GPS device, something that tells you your GPS coordinates might be a good complement to the altimeter and compass in the watch. Then you could communicate them to someone else who has such a device and find them or they find you easier.

    Absolutely nothing wrong wit being prepared. If more people took a few simple precautions it would make emergency managements job a lot easier.

    Like all things, this is a good base and can be modified to each persons needs.

    In an disaster, you can use ham radio without a license if there is no other way to communicate. After the disaster, might have to answer some questions, but if you get through the disaster who cares about a few questions.

    I don't know if this has been covered yet, but in the event of an emergency, most laws can be thrown out the window, given the emergency is severe enough.


    2 years ago

    I'm sure someone's mentioned it, but this will surely benefit from some solar? One of those weatherproof solar charging lithium ion packs plus one of these:


    That'll charge AAAs as well as AAs off of USB. So, charge the lithium pack off of solar, then transfer the energy to the AAAs. I only suggest the solar lithium pack because they're compact and would fit in that little pack, rather than a fold out solar, which are large.

    What was the number for the AAA replacement battery pack that is a great idea

    Has anyone thought of making this an Olympic sport? Dump the Decathalon and embrace the Survivathon!

    Hi mate,

    this is, as usual, a great Instructable with a number of good ideas for comms & signalling. If you don't mind I have a few additions:

    - adding a laser pointer and/or small flashlight would enable you to communicate via light over longer distances. Not sure how practical that little dollar store omnidirectional light would be for that purpose.

    - You mentioned the signal mirror and I would support that thought for the obvious reasons.

    - Maybe include a laminated morse code alphabet

    - spare batteries for your life gear light and rhe small lantern

    - short strips of fluorescent tape are useful for marking a path at night and would be a nice addition to your bread crumbs

    Whats the total you've spent on this kit?

    Again thanks for this great Ible.

    Cheers Alex

    2 replies

    Funny you should mention the laser pointer/flashlight as I did initially have one in this kit, but chose to omit it in the final incarnation there of. As this is a module of my much larger kit I decided against the redundancy.

    I'm currently making my own signal mirrors as we speak. Stay tuned!

    Also I did purchase some flagging tape (bio-degradable) and am in the process of testing it before it's to be included in my kit. I'm curious how long it actually takes to break down.

    I choose to forgo an extra set of batteries for the small lantern/glow stick as they are, in my view, non-critical bits of kit. They do however accept the same battery type. So, there's that in the least.

    The rite in rain notebook actually has both Morse code and ground to air basic signaling instructions on the back. Good thought though.

    I'd say the total cost of this kit, including the maxpedition "fatty" & Casio came in just under $120.00USD, which may sound like a lot. It took me a little over two months of research and price comparison before I had a completed kit. Not to mention a whole boat load of eBay alerts!

    Thanks for having read it through. cheers mate.

    Hi mate,

    thanks for the reminder with regards to the rite in the rain notebook. I do remember the info it has on the cover pages.

    Maybe a small UV light (eg. like the ones you can use to check for counterfeit notes) comes in handy to charge up photoluminescent tape?

    Cheers Alex

    Can you give more details on your breadcrumbs (i.e. brand, purchase location, etc)

    1 reply

    hey mate. donno the brand (ditched the original packaging) but I'll check into it for you. As for purchase local. I got these at my local dollar store. but they do sell a facsimile of these at Wal-Mart. They're strike indicators for night fishing.

    find a "Used" Citizen Watch that is self winding instead of a Battery operated one,

    3 replies

    eh, I like all the fancy features that go along with the casio. Though i will admit for longevity's sake the citizen might be the wiser choice. To each their own.

    also in the case of a "EMP" the Casio would be Toast!!

    But then again so would the ham, thus negating the principle component of the kit. luckily my pack is stowed in a faraday cage of sorts when not in use. though honestly I really don't ascribe to any doomsday scenarios. cheers mate.