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Author Topic: In an emergency how do you communicate with your non-ham family  (Read 19855 times)
KS4VT
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« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2011, 05:24:55 AM »

Text messaging until the cell sites go away then GMRS.  I have a friend that has a pretty decent GMRS repeater locally that we use from time to time and practice on that.  It has back-up power and as long as the antenna survives a storm we have a non-cellular way to communicate.

During an event I am housed at the County EOC and the family is buttoned up with the shutters closed so I have to really concern myself with those that are 30 miles away from me with 200 AH batteries to run the base radio and decent sized generator to keep everyone comfortable.
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JAPIE
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« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2011, 10:55:36 AM »

Dear Ham's

I believe my earlier point of 'all communication is gone in case of an emergency' has been proven.  No way to find any of my kids yesterday.  All cell phones where down.

So the initial question is very much alive and active: How to communicate with my non-ham family?

Japie
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W3LK
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« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2011, 12:53:47 PM »

Dear Ham's

I believe my earlier point of 'all communication is gone in case of an emergency' has been proven.  No way to find any of my kids yesterday.  All cell phones where down.

So the initial question is very much alive and active: How to communicate with my non-ham family?

Japie

All communications were NOT down yesterday. Virtually the only thing affected was cell service and that's because every yahoo with a cell phone was trying to call everyone in the country to tell them the ground shook, and so overloaded the system. The service itself didn't go down. Land line phones continued to work very nicely.

As for your question, try reading this thread again. Nothing in it has changed in the last 48 hours.

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K7RBW
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« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2011, 09:58:15 PM »

So the initial question is very much alive and active: How to communicate with my non-ham family?

It looks like you missed my post. Any comm plan needs a lost-comm plan. You really can't count on 100%, zero-down-time communications. Even the military with all their backups and redundancy has a plan for how to continue while comms are down.

Have your kids learn how to take care of themselves in the case of an emergency. Such as how to survive an event, how to seek shelter, and how to contact you (when they can). That way, you might not know where they are but you'll know they're taking care of themselves.
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NN4RH
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« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2011, 04:39:07 PM »

Quote
All communications were NOT down yesterday. Virtually the only thing affected was cell service and that's because every yahoo with a cell phone was trying to call everyone in the country to tell them the ground shook, and so overloaded the system. The service itself didn't go down. Land line phones continued to work very nicely.

And the cell system overload only lasted about 20 minutes, anyway.

And the internet continued to work the whole time.
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KD8NGE
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« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2011, 05:18:40 AM »


The "number one issue" following a disaster like that is NOT communication, but survival.
Food. Water. Sanitation. Shelter. Medical care.
Think about that stuff ahead of time.  Learn how to survive. Cache supplies. Make plans ahead of time on options for where the family members should rendevous, or when it's better to shelter in place. Everyone in the family should learn how to take care of themselves.

An HT isn't going to be of much help if you're otherwise unprepared to survive. All it lets you do is MAYBE call each other to whine about how bad off you are. That's assuming that everyone kept their batteries charged remembered to bring their radio with them when they left the house.

Ham radio or GMRS or  is not going to save you. Eventually the infrastructure will come back up. Eventually the cell phone system and Twitter and Facespace and Google People Finder will all be available. Your problem is to stay alive and safe until it does.

Just the view through an old greying ex-police captain's bifocals.
The quoted poster speaks truly and sensibly.
Listen to him.
Think of the Second Chance Body Armor's corporate slogan, "Sex and Violence!" -- you can't enjoy the former without surviving the latter -- survive the event, keep yourself and your family safe, and you can communicate in due time.

The best radio system in the world is worthless with nobody to hear your transmission.
My best advice for post-it-hit-the-fan communication is to license all hands, set up a regular family net, have everyone without exception practice and practice and practice again.  Depending on your terrain and distance, NVIS may be the antenna of choice -- but practice and pre-planning are key -- have a pre-plan, maybe something like "I will transmit on (this frequency) for (five minutes, ten minutes) at (the top and bottom of every hour), listening between transmissions" -- but bottom line ... survive it first!

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ONAIR
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« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2011, 10:16:01 PM »

If you are an experienced ham that is skilled in building and setting up antenna systems (since you are asking these questions, probably not, so it would be a good learning experience for you) a good inexpensive system can be set up using SSB CB transceivers. It will give you county wide solid communication using homemade ground plane antennas at 30 feet and you can set up a three element wire beam system for your out of state relative. It will be as reliable as a 10 meter ham radio of similar power and as we should know, 5 watts (12 watts PEP SSB) and a proper antenna is as good as 100 watts and a mediocre antenna. In an emergency, you can use car batteries for power. Further, they would be able to communicate with others that may be left after a disaster, in case something happens to you. Also, others on the band can relay messages when propagation conditions are bad for the out of state relative. No license needed, but you can only communicate legally with the out of state relative during an emergency.  Wink

Set up a Sunday family net every weekend to test the system and you will have inexpensive and fairly reliable communications. Remember, nothing is 100%!  Shocked
   Although I hate to say it, you are probably right.  In the event of a major disaster when the power grid is down, along with cell phones, landlines and the internet, CB radios are about all that the average citizen will have left.  Almost every trucker has one, and they are not dependent on the electrical grid since they are usually 12 volt car battery powered.  Many police agencies monitor the CB channels as well.  A simple CB radio will probably be all that the average citizen has left to communicate with, if the worst ever does occur.
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W3LK
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« Reply #37 on: August 29, 2011, 02:03:50 PM »

Many police agencies monitor the CB channels as well. 

I haven't seen a police agency that monitors CB in years. 20 years ago, maybe, but now? Probably only in small towns in rural areas - almost certainly not in major metropolitan areas.
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #38 on: August 31, 2011, 06:57:06 AM »

They were immediately set up and used extensively by everyone, including public safety agencies during the Miami hurricane disaster a few years ago.  Grin
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MAGNUM257
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« Reply #39 on: August 31, 2011, 06:51:20 PM »

Many police agencies monitor the CB channels as well. 

I haven't seen a police agency that monitors CB in years. 20 years ago, maybe, but now? Probably only in small towns in rural areas - almost certainly not in major metropolitan areas.

They are set up in the Philadelphia PA area. I heard some activity during Hurricane Irene on channels 13 and 15 (am).
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AE6ZW
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« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2011, 04:38:08 AM »

I suppose, in emergency, non HAM can use amateur radio without license.  after earth quake and tsunami in Japan 2011-03-11, ham radio companies along with JARL distributed ham radio hand held to shelters, like here, in emergency, it does not require license to use ham radio.
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KD8PGB
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« Reply #41 on: September 20, 2011, 04:30:38 AM »

 I have been thinking about the same thing, I have family members at 35 miles and 50miles away, I have one son (35 mile) that is studying for his tech license, however he is not home all that much.

So I was thinking, I recently purchased a Marathon ETFR radio for each family. 
http://www.marathonwatch.com/products/item/shortwave-radio-alarm-clock-emergency-EFTR-short-wave/

These little radios are inexpensive at $20 and can tune wide FM 76-109 (interestingly I pick up Local TV stations around 75 on FM) AM and SW1 & SW2. The families can pickup local news on these little radios with ease and the batteries will last up to 140hrs of continuous use.

So then I got to thinking, what if I need to get a message to them and other lines of communication are down, ie no cellular, no POTS, total widespread power failure, could I broadcast AM over SW2 20m and tell them to stay put or tell them to come to our house? Of course this would require using a predefined frequency and predefined broadcast times, which I would put on a label on the back of the radios.

I know it would be a one way communication,  which is not legal, however in an emergency would the one way communication rule be suspended?

I'm also wondering if AM on 20m would work for the short distance of 35-50 miles? (100watts out using a G5RV at 50ft height)

Sorry to hijack the thread but the answers may assist the original poster in figuring out how to communicate with his relatives.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 04:35:17 AM by KD8PGB » Logged

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K7RBW
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« Reply #42 on: September 20, 2011, 06:54:54 AM »

I don't know about others, but I've had zero luck trying to communicate over short distances on HF. I can talk across the country, but not across the county on 20m. In fact, on QSOs between someone who lives 5 miles from my house and someone 1500 miles away, I've heard the distant station very clearly but couldn't hear the local station at all.
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KD8PGB
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« Reply #43 on: September 20, 2011, 07:42:43 AM »

I don't know about others, but I've had zero luck trying to communicate over short distances on HF. I can talk across the country, but not across the county on 20m. In fact, on QSOs between someone who lives 5 miles from my house and someone 1500 miles away, I've heard the distant station very clearly but couldn't hear the local station at all.

You can if you run an NVIS antenna,  I was on 80m and NVIS about 400 miles using a G5RV at a height of roughly 15ft with reflectors under it. However that said, I was transmitting SSB, not AM, and 80m not 20m....

I was regularly ragchewing with some locals (30-300 miles) on 80m every morning...however the band had to be open...if the band was closed, you can't hear anyone.

All that said, I'm wondering if 20m am would work regardless of band conditions over a 35-50mile range using an NVIS? (think no, the band must be open for propagation) Or maybe I should be using the G5RV up at 50ft and stay away from NVIS and count on ground wave?


« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 07:48:20 AM by KD8PGB » Logged

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LA9XSA
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« Reply #44 on: September 21, 2011, 12:20:28 AM »

I know it would be a one way communication,  which is not legal, however in an emergency would the one way communication rule be suspended?
Only if your transmission is directly related to life and safety. You can call for help if you need rescue, or you could for example broadcast an alert that a dam has broken or a tsunami is on the way. However, just letting your family know you're still alive would not qualify, I think; that's what we call welfare traffic, and while it does take precedence over regular traffic, it doesn't really let you break the rules to that extent.
What you could do, is make sure they have short-wave radios that can tune to - say - the 80 meter amateur band and which can decode SSB; in that case they could hear you call in to a local net to report that you're OK and also pass a message to them. In a non-emergency situation, you can test this by having them tune in to a ragchew net which you're participating in and test if they can hear you and the rest of the net. Short wave listening to amateur conversations is completely legitimate as long as the amateurs are carrying on a conversation with each other; it's even possible to collect QSL cards through the bureaus as a short wave listener without an amateur license.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 12:26:44 AM by LA9XSA » Logged
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