You and your community need to consider “alterative” ways of communicating because in most major emergencies the phones don’t work, and that includes cell phones!!!
Communications - to talk or not to talk
Ham radio is not dead nor will it ever be.
There is Flex radio in which you buy a box that is 20% of the radio (the hardware part) and your computer houses the rest. It is so cool! You don’t buy new equipment, you get software updates.
Another technology involving integrated radio is D-Star. This takes computers and the internet back to their roots…Ham radio! With this system you can communicate radio to radio like other radios or you can link to a gateway and use the internet to hook up to another gateway anywhere in the world and broadcast from it. Or you can use the USB module and a VOIP headset and use your computer to link to any gateway. Or use the handheld and hook it to a laptop and use it to transmit to a gateway or another handheld with a laptop or a base station with a computer and send data, jpegs, email, etc.
However the biggest advantage is the fact that you can get a tri-band handheld for under $300 that does what the $2,000 base station rigs used to do. And they are the size of a cell phone. And they don’t need a cell tower to work!
Around my neck of the woods CB radio is a wasteland (hardly anyone is using it) so it is a kids toy. FRS/GMRS has all sorts of radios on the market but range is nowhere near what is shown on the container and everyone it seems has a pair. Now there is eXRS. It gives a little longer range than FRS/GMRS but a whole lot more privacy. and they cost the same (or cheaper if you get them at Amazon) as FRS at Home Depot.
With all of this out there we need to consider the “alterative” ways of communicating because in most major emergencies phone don’t work and that includes cell phones. This is where being a member of a local community radio club has its advantages.
This is a great American hobby that will keep communities linked in a major disaster and something you should consider getting into.
For local family/neighborhood communications check out the news link and the eXRS link.
Getting your Ham radio license is easy. Check with your local Salvation Army or Red Cross as they often have FREE classes. The test/license fee (FCC) is $15.00 and your license is good for ten years. You can also go to the ARRL web site and check for a club in your area.
As you all know when the government determined that it was best to get rid of the analog TV signals, we lost the ability to listen to local broadcast TV on our radio, which was handy during a storm or other events as the television news is more up to date on weather than most radio stations and in a power outage, the radio was the system of choice for weather updates until such a time as it was convenient to get the generator fired up.
So I finally broke down and went to Radio Shack and got a 7 inch digital, portable TV, so that I can watch the local news channels digital weather channel in a power outage.
It has a 7 inch screen, rechargeable batteries as well as a 12 volt (cigarette lighter)adapter and house current plug in adapter. It also has a telescoping antennae as well as an attachable, 8 foot long corded, magnetic base antennae as well as a remote control. It is a handy little LCD screened, lightweight, piece of equipment. Battery life appears to be 2 hours of continuous use, which should last long enough until such a time as it becomes convenient to hook up the generator during a long term outage.