Survival Communications – HAM RADIO

Ham RAdio

When the power lines go down, radio stations stop transmitting and the internet stops working; there is one line of emergency communication that will still be alive and well.

HAM Radio

Ham Radio is something that’s not often discussed on survival websites, but in my opinion, it plays a key role in your efforts to be prepared.

In a survival situation, knowledge is a very valuable asset. The ability to know what’s going on around you will be extremely important in just about any survival situation you might find yourself in. Having this knowledge will definitely give you a leg up in a survival situation.

Communications Equipment

A good survival plan must include some type of emergency communications equipment. The ability to send and receive information in a disaster is vital to being able to survive that situation.

In my opinion, there really is only one way to go, and that is to invest in some top quality HAM Radio equipment. Forget about those crappy emergency walkie-talkies or anything that’s marketed as a “Survival Radio”. In my opinion, 99% of these things are complete garbage and are almost completely useless in a real word survival scenario.

The ability to send and receive information, from just about anywhere in the world, is far more valuable than anything you will be able to get out of a so-called “Survival Radio”.

Why choose HAM Radio for your Survival Communications?

I’ve been a HAM since I was about 10 years old. I’ve talked to people from around the globe with radios that I could literally operate with a couple small batteries and a wire antenna. In a SHTF situation, the ability to communicate with such a small amount of power is going to be extremely important.

When the power grids go down during a natural disaster, it’s often HAM Radio operators who become the only line of communication available. In fact, during Katrina the early responders all relied on HAM Radio Operators to relay information out of the city. It played a vital role in search and rescue efforts and without it we likely would have seen many more deaths.

Why you need to be Licensed:

ham radio with a bug out bag

I often have people ask me if they really need to go through the hassle of becoming a licensed Amateur Radio Operator (HAM). Some people argue that during a SHTF situation having a License is meaningless. While this may be true, the knowledge that you’ll obtain while studying to get your license is well worth the time and the effort.

You will learn the basics of how to operate your radio, which bands are open during different atmospheric conditions, how to reliably use your radio during an emergency and how to build a variety of basic antennas. In my opinion, studying for the test and going through the process is the only way to ensure you’ll when it counts.  You will be far better off learning these skills now instead of haphazardly trying to figure how to use your radio during an emergency situation.

If you are serious about survival I strongly suggest that you look into becoming a HAM Radio Operator.

Further Resources:

Shirts of Liberty
The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide


  1. Living in Alaska, we have a very large area filled with villages that can only be reached by air. When we had the big quake in 65, the only communications that worked in Alaska, was ham radio. No one knows for sure what the next disaster might be, but the Alaska ham’s are prepared with home stations or go kits that can be set up anyplace to communicate traffic involving health needs along with any other needs required. Last year I was involved with installing ham radio’s in our three Kenai peninsula hospitals in case communications should be lost between these locations during a disaster. We feel that safety and health issues are a top priority during disasters and it is our goal to be prepared to help wherever we can.
    Getting a ham licence is not difficult and a very rewarding hobby to be involved in. As a ham, I respect the FCC rulings and have studied hard to get my license that I do not want to lose by not operating in a proper manner.
    Just a few thoughts to ponder for those that might be interested in disaster preparation.

  2. Why don’t one of you geniuses Macgyver up something cheap and easy to use. Just reading your posts tells me that most of you are competent in radio building and altering. There are many of us out here who have spent our time reading Jane Austen and watching “The Walking Dead” who have no clue what you lifetime ham guys are talking about.

      • Kathy, even the lifetime ham guys started someplace and you can, too. We have husband and wife couples come through our ham-crams all the time to obtain their ham licenses, then they prepare themselves to be able to communicate in an emergency, volunteer with local groups, and even do things for themselves. Anyone can do it, even if it sounds Greek to you right now. You want something cheap and easy? Contact your local Indian tribe and learn how to send smoke signals. There is no such thing as cheap and easy. It all takes some level of effort, not just to be preapred to communicate but to stockpile food and other resources for survival and security.

        • you are wrong on the “cheap and easy” aspect. using the self tests on sites like like they are a game is free, and easy. and will literally write the answers into your memory, and doesn’t get any cheaper or easier than that, since its free, and tells you the answers right away. and the more you take them the faster they become memorized

    • Reading Jane Austen and watch The Walking Dead is why you are asking others to do things for you. You are wasting your time and mind on useless media information.

    • not to insult but your comment is pure ignorance. There is NO need to “MacGyver” anything. Ham radios are already there. the antennas are already there…
      This is just one reason why ham radio is the way to go.
      (and for those actually reading this reply to old posts, its for those who are reading this old thread, so they get the facts not the fallacies that the uninformed were spreading)

      • the license is actually free, but there is a test fee. and it varies by Vecc group and is based solely on their costs. typically around 15 bucks

    • you can get 2 Baofeng UV-5R from amazon for under $100. All of the Baofeng UV-5 radios are all identical except for the case. The 5E, 5R, 5R+ are all the same. You may find different ratings or prices but they all have the same electronics. Look for the design and price you like. These radios also work in the GMRS ans the GRS frequencies. But these radios are 4 watt instead of 1/2 watt like you get from wall-mart.

    • The exam is $15 (cash only) and covers all tests taken within a 12 month period. So you can take your Technician test, then go back a month later and take the General exam free, then go back 2 months later and take the Extra Class exam free. You have up to a year to test free. After 1 yr if you want to upgrade then you’ll pay another $15.

      • it depends on the setup the VECC’s have in place they can only charge to cover actual costs… and there is no need to wait to take additional tests, you can take them all at once if you want, for the same fee

  3. more of a qustion, would a cb battery operated radio be worth keeping as a prep sine most people dont have or use ham radios?

  4. I passed the Technician Class a month ago. People, it is easy. I went to and your ready to test in a week. That being said I have opted to go with UHF/VHF with a 70cm/2M dual band setup. Why? Well, I live in an apartment and have no space for large antennas. I read Hams telling me I need a HF rig for SHTF to be able to talk worldwide. I don’t want that. I want to know what id happening in MY area. My area has three 2M repeaters and a couple 70cm repeaters and most have emergency power/solar backup. The UHF/VHF mobile and H.T. transceivers are very easy to figure out and use. Antennas are easy to make for them should the need arise. Line of sight with UHF/VHF is misleading a bit. If your in the right area I have been told of contacts up to 300 miles away. 2M is probably the most popular band in Ham. If I need to know what is going on around the world I need only to chat with others in the local radio club. Those fellas DO have the HF equipment which is downright impressive. But for the average Joe on a budget and perhaps doesn’t have the room to put up large antennas you can still have emergency communications with 30 minutes of study a day for about a week. 2M mobile radios can be had for a little over $100.00 and Hand Talkies for less than that. I am planning on buying a 6M transceiver sometime down the road. I see there are repeaters not far away from me. Yep, Ham is important for SHTF and families on a budget CAN get into it for little investment. Don’t let all the high tech talk put you off. The Tech exam isn’t hard at all. That being said, I have studied for the General Exam and have passed the practice tests online but cannot find a place to test until November. I am going for the General not because I want a HF rig but because I will then be able to use the HF equipment at the local radio club. Knowledge is important and someday I may HAVE to operate and transmit on HF and I want to know HOW to transmit properly and be legal about it at all times regardless if it is a SHTF situation or not. I just roll that way.

  5. Im another who got a license.Studied for a week,no problem,Im a Tech.

    Went back after 2 weeks study and got my General,so did wife.

    It IS that easy.For 200 dollars we got licensed,2 UV5R radios,a car antenna,2 better antennas for radios,a battery doodad that replaces battery and plugs into car lighter.

    Now we are learning how to talk on air by listening to the local repeater traffic.

    Also the old gents who tested us are very helpful,programmed our radio’s to the local frequencies for us,so just meeting them was worth the costs,a teacher is known as an ELMER and they are so ready to get you up to speed.

    Go for it,its fun,cheap and can be as simple as you want,as much as you want… limited only by your needs,desires and wallet.But 200 dollars WILL get 2 people up and running with some amazing capabilities.


  6. I have some question about few deaf people civilians milita need contact communications with ham radio digital texting send any ham radio needs help advice?

    • there are multiple ways of transmitting text. your best bet is google up “hearing impaired ham radio”, as well as “(your city here) radio clubs” and check with “”

  7. I am licensed and hold a technician class license. ( I have no desire to go for the General license as the VHF suits my needs. With our linked repeaters (they have emergency backup power) I am talking out to 200 miles using the 2 meter and 25-65 watts. I am running a Kenwood 281A mono band radio and use a magnetic mount antenna on top of my gun safe for ground plane. I have a range (simplex) of 70+ miles as Arizona is pretty open. I use a power switching unit and use the radio as a base station. I have a Baofeng HT and it works but I don’t hold much of an opinion of 5 watt HT when compared to the more powerful mobile radios. I am currently working on a go box with solar panels and 12v battery with a portable antenna. Antennas are quite simple to make. Invest in an SWR meter. Support your local radio clubs!

  8. Someone is bound to try to comment on my revival of an old thread, or replying to old posts. Knowledge is never OLD unless it is wrong. If its wrong it needs to be replaced. I found this thread on a google search, it is my specialty, I’m an Extra Class ham, and have an MSEE,(Masters of Science, Electronics Engineering), and am more survivalist than simply ‘Prepper’.

  9. If “crappy emergency walkie-talkies or anything that’s marketed as a “Survival Radio” means cheap Chicom crap like Baofeng, couldn’t agree more.

  10. Hi I’m very new to all this I’m looking into getting the ham license and doing the complete course. Also looking into any local ham groups. My question is the tech of it. Like what would be the best radio to have that will not give off our location, but with the furthest distance? And how would I power it? I have friends and family in many different states and a few around the world that I would like to be able to contact and they would like to do the same.

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