SHTF Communications: How Far Do You Want To Talk?

Articles on SHTF communications often dive right into super expensive systems allowing communication across the country – or the world. In my own personal efforts, I have been working on trying to set up a system for what I would refer to as a “local” communications network for my group. Ideally, we are talking 20 miles and less.

Many may hear this goal and consider it meager – “Hey – just connect to a Ham repeater.” While using a Ham repeater will allow 20 miles and much more I am looking for reliable independent communications. Efforts have been very frustrating and really not for this article. I have had some very good success lately and the retreat is currently set up for upwards of 10+ miles with no repeater. This is excellent for patrolling and inbound members. Longer range is just a matter of time.

The purpose of this article is to consider the perspective – in a world filled with cell phones, texting, Facetime, and other means of instant communication – if it disappeared today could you stay in touch with those heading up the street to check on a neighbor? That trip to the store or up the road to see Billy that used to be considered routine and no big deal post-SHTF might not be quite the same.

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Although AM/FM and shortwave radios can bring in news and provide valuable information – they are both one-way communication methods which offer limitations.

Assuming that some form of SHTF situation has occurred – why would person to person communications be important?

  • Assist in finding missing persons and pets.
  • Announce rising flood waters to others in the area.
  • Communicate direction of brush fires.
  • Communicate with others in a hunting party.
  • Perimeter patrols.
  • Tactical operations and movements.
  • Save time and energy to be able to relay information over distance rather than drive or walk to those you are wanting to communicate with.
  • Warn of impending danger.
  • Communicate observations of people moving through an area.
  • Call of help or assistance while someone is not at home.

The list could go on and on.

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Some considerations regarding a local communications network include equipping the home with some form of base station, vehicles with mobile units, and people with handheld transceivers(HT). Ideally, all could communicate with each other when within the boundaries of the local network area, however, that is not always possible when independent of any repeating system.

The exact components I have used and have had success with will come in a later article. Again the point of this article is to get you thinking. How far are you needing(not wanting) to communicate? This is an important question to answer before setting up your system. Know that generally the longer you want to be able to transmit and receive the more expensive it is.




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