There’s No Better Time to Be an Amateur Radio Geek
Hagarty-Solari and her neighbor Judy were never far from each other, but first Judy lost the signal from her cell phone, and then Hagarty-Solars lost hers when she was driving through flames — even though she was in a rag with convertible-because at that moment there was no going back. Not surprisingly, they lost the service. Seventeen cell towers burned on the first day of the fire the deadliest and most devastating wildfire recorded in California.
Two-way portable radios could provide a backup option, and some GMRS radio stations can transmit text messages and GPS locations, although only to other GMRS radio stations and not to mobile phones or computers.
If Martin and I have to evacuate, each of us will have a walkie-talkie in our car in case we lose our cell phone service. The evacuation is a realistic possibility, as the worst fire season has not even begun in California. However, as of August 15, 3.5 million acres have already been burned, breaking the previous record of 2 million acres set in 2018.
On the other side of the United States, East Coast residents are preparing for what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects to be a more active hurricane season than usual. Weather forecasters predict that the number of storms will double almost this year and may extend to the Greek alphabet.
Martin and I used to use room-to-room radios in the house and in the neighborhood, which isn’t exactly fun because we’re not close enough during quarantine anymore?
What would you say Cannon running?
Another option for two-way radio communication is Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS), which you may know as CB radio. Movies like Cannon running and Smokey and the bandit popularized CB radio stations in the 70s and 80s of the last century. Since most new cars are associated with modern technology, these devices are unlikely to be reinstalled in passenger vehicles (although truck drivers keep CB’s dream alive), but they are an option for those living in high-risk areas. who want to stay connected.
People from coast to coast use dozens of applications, all designed for emergency preparedness. When hurricanes hit the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, apps can help navigate evacuation routes, find temporary shelters, find gas stations, and track storms themselves. A phone full of apps feels like security, but when cell phone signals are stained or completely lost, they’re more like a debit card without a PIN.
This is where CB radio stations appear. Although they seem like an outdated form of communication, knowing that channels 9 and 19 are dedicated to the transmission of emergency information, and traffic / road conditions increase their usefulness. Although I have a Subaru equipped with Starlink, I want one and Martin is ready to install it.
Do ordinary people use scanners?
Celine Negrete of Grasse Valley, California, recently bought several police scanners for her six-person household. The Negrete family does not have a stationary or cellular service in their home, but thanks to a tree climber who wants to arrange a 150-foot Ponderosa pine, they have internet access. Celine can receive a cellular signal outside, but in the middle of the night she cannot receive signals.
Since Negrete’s house has internet, they can check social media groups for urgent information, but when the electricity goes out, the internet also goes. Their house is built of straw bales and the walls are thick, so they do not receive a clear radio signal inside the house. During a high risk of fire, the family takes turns going to the car to listen to the radio, but now that they have scanners, they can monitor the local emergency channels from the bed. They just have to remember to keep a lot of batteries on hand.
Updated form of communication
For someone who wants a more complete package, amateur radio (also known as radio radio) is the way to go, although it involves a little more planning and preparation before you can start using it. Before legally airing, users must pass a 35-question written exam to obtain a FCC technician license and unique call sign. Then there are two more levels – general and amateur extra – which require additional exams. Licenses are good for 10 years and almost anyone can have one, except for representatives of a foreign government.
Although I’ve spent most of my life thinking amateur radio is for geeks and grandparents, I’m now sitting with Martin for two weeks of checks at the local amateur radio club. This is a way for ham radio operators not only to touch the base with each other, but also to test their equipment. Not only do radio amateurs help each other, but they also deploy in emergencies to help organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and local public safety services communicate and coordinate with the public and with each other.