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After a major disaster you can expect the power to be out and/or the cell phone towers to be jammed. To get in touch with loved ones, your best bet is a two-way radio or something similar. However, you could be in a situation where you need to signal for help or look for survivors. Fortunately, there are many ways to communicate during a disaster. Below is a list of useful communication devices that everyone should have, just in case.
1. Communication Radios – Walkie talkies, CB radios, and short waves. Pretty obvious, but if the power is out, these are great. Plus, the battery life on these is getting better all the time. Depending on what you get, the range could be anywhere from a few miles to thousands. For added security, use morse code or your own private codes. Check out this CB radio.
2. Fire and Screen – Smoke signals are great if you need help. A charcoal grill with the cover and paper works great in a high-rise building and could create enough smoke to tell your party in another building that you are okay, or ready for them to bring food, etc. You can play around with the color of the smoke too for different messages. Paper usually burns white, and rubber from shoes burns black (just be wary of the chemicals in the smoke). Any fire with a blanket can work for signals if you have a yard to do it in. All you need is a small grill.
3. Mirrors – A small piece of mirror, pocket mirrors, and women’s compacts work well. This one that has a hole in the middle works very well for aiming. A cheap alternative that most people own is a CD (very reflective surface with a hole in the middle). The downside to this technique is it’s only useful during the day.
4. Noise Maker – Air horns, bird calls, whistle’s, drums, or anything else that can make a loud noise and be distinguished by the parties involved. (I like bird calls because they are disguised and others will not pick up on your communication as easily.) Some things will travel farther than others, so be aware of the limits. Also remember that the smaller and lighter the object, the easier it will be for you to stay mobile.
5. Flares – You can purchase a flare gun at most marine shops or online. These shoot a flare high up and burn brightly for 30-45 seconds. They can be used day or night, but they’re more effective at night. A downside to this is they can be seen by everyone, including looters. But they can also be used as a self-defense weapon. Just be careful because they can be hard to extinguish.
6. Marking Instruments – Chalk is great; it washes off easily and can be re applied without damaging a surface. You can leave a mark on a certain street corner for your group to recognize. Paint, flour, and other things can be used as well, but I keep a piece of chalk in my bug out bag because it lasts forever, and it’s small and lightweight. I recommend this sidewalk chalk.
Nowadays most people take communication for granted. But if there’s a major disaster, you’ll be far more likely to survive if you can find and communicate with friends and family. And the more communication options you have, the easier that will be.