Look up “SHTF Communications” and you’ll often find advice suggesting that if you do not spend a boatload of money, get a multitude of licenses, and be able to talk to people literally thousands of miles away….well…..you might as well give up. Exaggeration? Hmmm…..maybe slightly. I would never discount the importance of Ham radio and it’s ability to offer a multitude of communication options however far too often those that cannot afford or simply choose to go a different route are frowned upon as inferior.
Can’t we all just get along?
In most emergency situations where the power is out and cell phone service is down AM/FM for news and simple FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies would be the priority communication items. If I need to go down the street to talk to a neighbor and then swing by the old couple’s home around the corner powering up the HF isn’t necessary. With a $25 pair of FRS/GMRS radio’s, I can reach my entire neighborhood. This is an important and inexpensive communication tool.
I’ve taken the kids to the beach back before they had cell phones and sent them out with FRS/GMRS radios. I’ve done the same at several KOA campgrounds. No issues being able to reach them as they went about discovering and having an adventure. The very same results can be had when you give a radio to your buddy and set up a neighborhood watch. These budget-friendly FRS/GMRS radios are an important and inexpensive survival tool that far too often is discounted and not given the attention they deserve. Typical range? 1/2 to 2 miles depending on terrain and geography. Forget the 20+ miles reported on the packaging.
BTW – generally FRS channels transmit at a lower power than GMRS. With this said GMRS should provide additional range IF the radio is set up to take advantage of the legal transmit power limits.
So – while Ham radio is a fantastic communication tool do not discount the value of a pair of FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies.