Ready or Not #200: Communication


When I was very young my mom and dad had a record of the Kingston Trio we used to listen to.  One of the songs that I loved to sing was called “The Merry Minuet” that was written by Sheldon Harnick and released in 1959.  The melody was intentionally up-beat and very catchy, but the lyrics were very sad.  The melody made it fun to sing, but the words were quite disturbing – and true; “They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain. There’s hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain…”  Boy, things haven’t changed very much.  There is still rioting in Africa; we still have on-going famines, destructive hurricanes, and devastating droughts.   And Texas probably still needs rain – at least in some places.

I guess what brought this song to my mind was the rioting in Egypt.  Egypt was never mentioned in the song, but for some reason the song kept turning over in my head; so much turmoil.

The rioting and problems that the general Egyptian populace has been experiencing have really been weighing heavily on my mind, especially with how the government has responded.  To quell the rioting, the leaders of Egypt shut off the quickest and most prolific forms of communication – the internet and cell phones.  Any disaster expert or anyone that has been involved in a disaster, man-made or wrought by nature, will tell you that communication is vital and to be without can be disastrous.

The need to communicate during a natural disaster is very important in order to bring order to mayhem and chaos.  Being able to communicate gives peace of mind when you are able to give and get information concerning the whereabouts or status of loved ones.

If for some reason your normal ways of communicating were shut down, what would you do?  What skills would you have that would help you to maintain the lines of communication with loved ones or people that have much needed information or knowledge?  What would you do if you couldn’t use your cell phone, text, e-mail, twitter or facebook?

We have been told that cell phones will pretty much be useless during a disaster – natural or otherwise.  The government has the option to cut the cell phone access to the public to make it easier for government agencies to communicate without fighting for open lines.  If you have a land-line and the phone lines are still up, you might have a better chance to communicate with someone outside the state (in-state lines will be too busy), but at least you will still be able to disseminate and gather information at some level.

If we are lucky and the internet is still accessible, then you will be able to post and gather information you need.  That option will be very nice to have, but don’t count on it as an absolute.

Your best bet to keep open lines of communication is a HAM radio.  It would be well worth your while to get your radio license and radio.  Most HAM radio classes are free and the test is very inexpensive (It was only $14.00 when I took it).  The radios are also very inexpensive and you can get a nice one for around $100 (less than most cell phones).  Even if a radio tower goes down, you can still use the earth’s atmosphere to contact other fellow HAM enthusiasts to exchange information.  There are no age limits to getting your license (there are HAM operators that are as young as five years old), you just need to understand the basics and take the test.  FYI – You don’t need to know Morse Code anymore to get your license.

It is very important to have your water (Two gallons per person, per day, for a two week period), food and emergency supplies stored, but communication is vital to help you have peace of mind, give you accurate information to make informed decisions and warn you of what to expect.  Forms of communications such as pencils, paper and radios that can run on self-generation or batteries are very important and should also be stored.

And so it goes, “…They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran. What nature doesn’t do to us will be done by our fellow man.”  It just never ends, so be prepared.

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