When people are bitten by the preparedness bug most of them start with buying food. They stock up on wheat, MRE's and freeze dried wonder food in Number 10 tins. The longer they are infected with this particular "virus" other symptoms of preparedness emerge. Family days no longer consist of going to the local park for a hike, but now entail putting as many precious metals (lead and copper) down-range as financially and humanly possible. Garages morph into high density storage units and road trips are planned with topographical maps lined with emergency routes home. First aid classes are replaced with full-fledged EMT courses and researching uncommon diseases become a favorite pastime. In a nutshell, you can sum up your life with the phrase "Beans, Bullets and Band-aids". And then you get hard-core.....
One of the weaknesses of many otherwise well thought out preparedness plans is the lack of communications. We spend so much time trying to cover the basics that we neglect one of the most basic necessities of all - the ability to communicate with one another. Without the ability to communicate with your "group" or similarly prepared neighbors, you become intensely vulnerable to any number of grid-down hazards. Sickness could sweep through an area and quarantine could be broken because of the lack of communication. Invaders could use the element of surprise to ransack and plunder your retreat due to lack of communications. A simple inconvenience could become a life or death situation without the ability to call for back-up.
After much research and consideration, we have chosen to use the MURS frequency for our local communications (2 to 3 miles, depending upon terrain). MURS requires a VHF radio programed to MURS frequencies (there are 5 MURS frequencies). The MURS frequency is a business band that the FCC released to the public to use without a license. You are limited to 2 watts on these frequencies by the FCC, however, if you have the abilities to program these radios yourself (this requires software and a programming cable) you could bump the radios up to 5 watts in an emergency. The reason we chose the MURS radios was that we were disappointed in the quality of the FRS and GRMS radios that were available. They were cheaply made and often required AAA batteries (AA batteries are our group standard) to function and we had several sets fail in the field for no apparent reason. I have no doubt there might be some good radios available but we decided to go with very reliable, rugged milspec radios, manufactured by ICOM. We chose ICOM specifically because Sir Knight has two old ICOM FRS (.5 watt) radios (no longer manufactured) that are so tough that not even the children have been able to destroy them! We went with the IC F3001 VHF radio. It had very simple (not as likely to break) controls, is incredibly rugged (both water and dust resistant) and the alkaline battery pack (bought separately) took AA batteries. The alkaline pack replaces the standard lithium ion battery pack and allows you to use rechargeable AA batteries to power your radio (remember, it is always best to have more than one way to do anything!). Both the lithium ion and alkaline packs are rechargeable using either standard 110vac or 12vdc chargers, and most preppers already have AA batteries.
|Alkaline Battery Packs|
|Replaces the Lithium Ion battery pack|
|Headset with boom mike (we added the|
lovely camo sweatband)
As you get squared away on your beans, bullets and band-aids, it would be wise to also consider the very important aspect of short range communications. It's not just about preparedness - it's about practical preparedness.