In the entire radio spectrum, the amateur or ham radio can be an indispensable tool in emergencies. It is the top choice for many preppers because of its advantages in range and flexibility compared to other options like the Citizens Band Radio Service (CB), Family Radio Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), Low-Power Radio Service (LPRS) and Multiple-Use Radio Service (MURS).
Radio amateurs or hams have been building, operating and maintaining their own amateur radio stations since the dawn of radio in the first decades of this century, with over 700,000 ham operators licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States and six million around the world.
Recent disasters have shown that 911 is inaccessible because it is overloaded and you simply cannot rely on mobile phones or the internet to communicate in an emergency because these communication channels depend on the electrical and data grid.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross call upon ham radio operators to relay messages, update local rescue efforts with distant relief agencies and pass along “I’m okay” notes for their neighbors to worried relatives many states away.
As you get into amateur or ham radio, you want to make sure that you are not creating environments or situations that could potentially hurt yourself or your loved ones.
Don’t get shocked. You’re going to be playing around with electricity volts and current.
Don’t fall off the roof, off a ladder or out of a tree.
Don’t drive distracted. Many preppers install amateur or ham radio equipment in their vehicle, and you might consider having one installed in your car.
Make sure that you understand exposure levels to radiofrequency (RF) radiation. You are going to be emitting RF into the air. Exposure to very high RF intensities can result in the heating of biological tissue and an increase in body temperature.
As a new ham, you might have prepared a giant list of all the equipment that you want to buy. A subject matter expert will tell you that your preferences are going to change with your experience.
Start getting your equipment slowly and build some experience. The list of all the equipment that you want to buy may change what you think you want to do. Buying everything at once can be fun and exciting, but you’ll likely spend or invest money in equipment or gear that you don’t use.
Folks who are active in ham radio for 10, 20, 30 years didn’t get everything all at once. It takes time to build skill sets and to build your equipment.
Ham shacks are in a constant state of evolution. Your first ham shack is not going to be your last ham shack. New product tools are released into the market and that may change your mind about something that you think you want. Leave room for some growth.
Every active ham is a potential resource and you can maintain contact by including them in your outreach activities. Remember that not all hams will have the time, equipment or desire to get involved. However you find them, introduce yourself, tell them a little about preparedness efforts you are involved in and ask whether they would be interested in helping you build skills and experience as a ham operator.
You can start with a handheld ham radio, which you can buy for $25 to $100. You can program it and then you can talk to local networks using ultra-high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF).
There are laws, rules and regulations that you need to abide to as a ham radio operator. Hammers learn about these rules as they get their FCC licenses. (Related: California to ban use of all ham radio repeaters unless operators pay the state massive fees.)
David Andrew Brown, who authored a book about ham radio, recommends going on Amazon or eBay for new gear as a ham operator since those are major suppliers of transceivers and accessories that can fulfil a ham operator newbie needs.
The ham radio can be challenging so be patient if you’re very much into becoming a hammer. You’re going to have a lot of fun but expect challenges and setbacks that you need to overcome. If you’re not having fun because you’re frustrated with the equipment you bought, with the antenna, the band conditions or whatever – take a break and turn your radio off. Walk away and do something else for a little while. If you want to have fun, hang out with hams in your neighborhood who are having fun as amateur radio operators.
Watch the full video below to learn more about ham radio for preppers.
This video is from the AlternateReality channel on Brighteon.com.
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