Emergency Communications

Emergency Communications

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I’ve decided to start breaking apart my one page Emergency Preparedness & Family Home Storage page into various sub-pages   This will allow me to go into more detail on individual topics.  This is the first of these pages and is still under construction.

In a disaster, not being able to communicate with loved ones is a source of much stress.  In addition, we have become so reliant on being able to pickup the telephone and calling someone when we need help, are worried, or just to checkup on someone.  What if this was not available?  In a disaster, phone lines are most likely either will be down or over loaded.

Emergency Communications helps in both of these areas.

All families need to set up an Out of State Emergency Contact person. Each family member checks in with that out of state contact person because, often times in an emergency, outgoing long distance calls will work when local calls will not. Print out an [download#43#nohits], fill it out, and give one to each family member.

Emergency Communication Options.

There is not a one size fits all for all situations.

Type of Communications Strengths Weaknesses other notes
Cell Phone Very common, very easy to use. Private communications. Usually one of the first things to stop working after a disaster Text messages will sometimes work when voice calls do not.
Family radio service (FRS) License free, 15 channel radio service. Many families already have compatible equipment. No privacy, can have interference from others in area, not very many channels, limited battery life. Very low power, very short realistic distance. Useful in a short-range area.
Multiple Use Radio Service (MURS) License free, 5 channel radio service. Not very commonly used, so there is less interference from other users. Higher power than FRS and somewhat further distance than FRS. No privacy, very limited channel selection. Equipment less common than FRS. Limited realistic useful range. Some fast food restaurants use MURS for their drive thru windows.
Citizen Band Radio (CB) License free, 23 or 40 channels.  Popular with truck drivers.  SSB equipment can travel a good distance.  Often times has non-family friendly language.  Different type of equipment (SSB vs AM) that is not compatible.  Channel 9 is reserved for Emergency Communications.
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) No test required licensed radio service.  Similar to FRS, but with higher power.  Able to use external antennas to extend signal.  Repeaters are allowed in GMRS to increase coverage. $85 per 5-year is considered expensive by many.  There are a lot of radio pirates that use the service without a license.  Potential rule changes under review with the FCC could dramatically change GMRS. License covers anyone related to you by blood or marriage, except cousins.  Some of the channels are shared with FRS.
Satellite Phones Phone can be used almost anywhere in world.  Most types of satellite phones can be used without worry about ground conditions. Phone is expensive and airtime can be expensive.  Phone can not be used inside.
Amateur Radio / Ham Radio No cost license required.  Lots and lots of frequencies, many of which can be used to communicate all around the world. You are required to take and pass a FCC test.  There are three levels of Ham radio, each of which requires passing a test and paying a small fee. The basic level, (Technician Class license) is very simple. In fact, children under 10 frequently pass the test.

Review the Southern Nevada MARA group’s Ham Radio vs GMRS for an in depth review of the differences between these two radio services.

Ideally, a mixture of communication options will ensure families can always communicate, no matter what the emergency. However, the best single option would be Ham radio/Amateur radio.

Las Vegas Area Emergency Communications

In Southern Nevada, Clark County Office of Emergency Management sponsored Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) uses both Ham Radio & GMRS for Emergency Communications.  Likewise, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southern Nevada uses both Ham Radio and GMRS for their Emergency Communications.

Southern Nevada Ham Radio Classes & Tests

In Las Vegas, Amateur Radio exams are usually given the second Saturday of each month beginning promptly at 12:30 PM at the Parish Hall of All Saints Episcopal Church, 4201 W. Washington Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89107, just off Valley View & US-95.  For more information, visit Las Vegas Area Amateur Radio Exams – LVHamtest.com


Ham Radio Study Guides & Practice Exams:

  1. HamElmer’s Tech Study Guide – a great study guide
  2. AmateurRadioTest – A great free downloadable Ham Radio practice test.
  3. HamExamHelper – Study for your Ham Radio Exam
  4. Amateur Radio Exam Practice – Online Exam Practice by AA9PW.com

Southern Nevada Area Ham Radio Clubs & Organizations:

  1. Southern Nevada MARA Net operates a twice weekly net on VHF 147.27+ , also linked on UHF 447.30- (PL 100) Mondays at 9:00 pm and Saturdays at 8:30 AM.  If you are interested in LDS Ham Radio in Las Vegas, you should tune in.
  2. Clark County ARES/RACES – sponsored by the Clark County (Nevada) Office of Emergency Management.  Net operates each Monday night at 7:30 PM on various repeaters (see website for list).  First Monday of each month, a Simplex (no repeater) net is ran.
  3. Las Vegas Radio Amateur Club
  4. Amateur Electronic Supply– Las Vegas HAM Radio / Amateur Radio store  (“The Candy Store”)
  5. Las Vegas Regional Skywarn
  6. Las Vegas LDS Bishop Store GMRS Emergency Response Communications (ERC) Net – operates a twice weekly net on GMRS repeater channel 3 (462.600+) with a PL of 141.3 at approximately 9:15 PM on Mondays and 8:45 AM on Saturdays.  This Net is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  7. Clark County GMRS Emergency Communications Net – operates a once a week net on GMRS repeater channel 7 (462.700+) with a PL of 141.3.  This net is affilated with the Clark County ARES group.

Other Ham Radio Websites of Interest

  1. LDS Hams

Last Updated: 25 June 2013

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