I’ve been around emergency services since the early 1970s, and when events didn’t go well, communications was always a major reason.

But here’s the other bit of news: even when things DO go well, communications is always cited as an “area for improvement.”

How does this apply to you? You should get used to the fact that in a major disaster your cell phone won’t work. You’ll be lucky if texts go through, but that’s not guaranteed. Worst of all, they might be delayed, which could make for massive confusion if yesterday’s texts start arriving today.

I keep a stash of low-cost Family Radio Service walkie-talkies at my house. My wife hates technology, but these are things that even she can operate. I store them in an air-tight ammo can, without the batteries installed, and I avoid using them for anything but disasters. I have other FRS radios for dog training or other needs. But just like that extra roll of TP or that terrible-tasting emergency food, my stash of FRS radios is waiting for the big one.

You should have one radio for every member of your family, along with spare batteries. Did I mention that you should store them with the batteries out? That way they won’t be a cruddy mess in two years when the batteries leak all over the inside. The only hitch this creates is that with some models they will likely be back at factory defaults when you put the batteries in. One thing not shown in the picture is an instruction manual, which might be a good thing to also have in your radio box.

These combined FRS/GMRS radios are for advanced users. Google “General Mobile Radio Service” for more information.

These radios will allow family members to be in touch at least around the neighborhood. The range can be a bit limited, but if you send an older child to check on elderly neighbors or to the corner store for supplies you’ll be able to stay in touch.

I think my love of radios started when I got some 1960s-era walkie talkies for Christmas when I was about 11. I had a paper route then, and a month or so later I had to deliver papers in a massive snow-and-freezing-rain storm. My folks made me take one of the radios so I could stay in touch with them from my route. I highly recommend them for all families.

Stay Found!

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