Prepare for emergencies with radios

January 22, 2010

The recent storms became emergency incidents to us at various levels, depending on whether we lost power, were in a car stuck in water or had floodwater or tree branches coming into our homes.

Fortunately, most of us carry cell phones, which were able to function if the power went out at this level of minor emergency. But now is the time to act on a plan to have back-up emergency communication if you need help, and you can’t run to get it, and there is no phone service of any kind.

Two-way radios — FRS/GMRS and especially two-meter HAM radios — can be lifesaving, if there is someone else on a frequency who can hear you.


Radio operators in Costa Mesa are building a combination FRS/GMRS and HAM radio operator network across the city, so there can be emergency communications in the worst emergency scenario.

To be effective when it is needed, it must be set up and practiced now. Its effectiveness depends on how many of you and your neighbors participate.

It is one good example of you being safer when you are working with others. FRS/GMRS radios are not very expensive and batteries are a minor expense.

Ham radios, which reach farther, start at about $100, and local training and support are available.

It is not enough to have radios stored in the cupboard.

You need to be comfortable in the correct way to use the radio effectively in an emergency, and you need to identify who else in your area can hear your transmission.

An additional advantage for ham radio operators is the ability to listen to the local frequency during an emergency and learn what is going on as it happens.

The goal is to have at least two families on every block with FRS/GMRS radios and several in every neighborhood with ham radios and antennas, as well as FRS/GMRS radios to relay emergency information further, and to let all neighbors know who these radio operators are.

If you have radios stored with your camping gear or emergency supplies, get them out, put in fresh batteries and contribute a few minutes every Monday night to maintaining the safety of your family and your neighbors. If you are a ham operator, we especially need your relay assistance.

You can find more information in the radio section at If you have any questions, call (714) 546-4252.

Diane Hill

Costa Mesa

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