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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Have a Good Radio in Your Survival Supplies During a Disaster

The BBC is broadcasting life-saving information to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the monumental flooding in Pakistan. So many are cut off from emergency aid efforts. They’re issuing bulletins in the languages spoken most there on staying safe, avoiding disease, and how to get food and other help. It’s not uncommon for this to be done by the BBC and other international broadcasters, including Christian ministries like Trans World Radio. Most international broadcasters have cut back on shortwave transmissions in favor of partnering with local AM and FM outlets who receive designated programming by satellite and Internet.
Though the Internet is growing world wide, many in lesser developed countries still rely heavily on radio for information. Local and international broadcasters provide a useful and valuable service that can literally save lives.
When there’s a major natural disaster here in the U.S., where do most of us get our information? Though many turn to the Internet with computers or smart phones, plenty of us still turn to local radio. AM and FM broadcasts may be the only option when the power’s out.
A key advantage to listening to radio is you don’t have to be connected to the Internet. No wireless connection required. The only thing you need is good batteries or another source of power, such as a wind-up generator or solar power. Radios have gotten better at stretching battery life, too.
We often turn to radio in severe weather. But think back a few years to a bigger event–Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Radio stations in New Orleans combined efforts and personnel to provide useful information to their listeners.
People who still had phone service of some kind could call into the stations to report what was happening in their neighborhoods. For me the listener, this was fascinating.
I was able to listen in because, like many, I can hear WWL radio, New Orleans, at night from hundreds of miles away. In fact, WHRI, a U.S. shortwave station, broadcasted WWL to an even larger audience.
When the big earthquake struck San Francisco in 1989, I heard the rebroadcast of one of San Francisco’s stations on WLS, Chicago. Again, for me it made for fascinating listening.
In 1999 during the pre-Y2K jitters, one expert made a list of skywave radio stations available on his Web site. He believed it was important to be able to listen to those stations which could be heard over great distances at night.
You may have your own examples of how standard broadcast radio has been helpful to you in a time of disaster. If so, you already know how important it is to have a simple AM/FM radio in your survival supplies.
Many companies offer small portable radios as part of their ready-made survival kits. Some radios are combined with flashlights. Without trying out such radios ahead of time, it’s hard to say whether they’ll meet your needs adequately during or after a disaster.
I recommend getting a good radio. It may be necessary to monitor stations at a distance if local stations are knocked off the air. Cheaper radios may not pick up distant stations well.
The CC Observer or the Kaito WRX911 both have excellent AM reception. The Observer has weather band coverage and a LED flashlight. The Kaito is a pocket radio with shortwave coverage. Both are simple to operate, which is a plus in stressful situations. Neither are expensive when you consider what each does.
Unless we have a giant EMP (electromagnetic pulse) one day which takes out all things electronic, you can’t beat an AM/FM radio as an information source when disaster strikes. Make sure you have one or two among your survival supplies. I wouldn’t be without mine.

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