For many of us, it’s hard to imagine our lives without a cellphone. That’s how dependent we’ve become on them. Despite the fact that most of us did not own one during the first half of our lives.
Now, we use them for a variety of tasks. Phone calls, text messages, emails, Internet searches, maps and other usages. And it’s always in the back of our minds that we may need our cellphone to request emergency help. Or receive a call from someone needing help right away.
That’s why we feel so powerless when we realize we left our phone at home. Or when we realize it’s dead.
And even if our fully-charged cellphone is resting comfortably in our pocket, there’s always the chance extreme weather or a natural disaster could render a cellphone tower useless.
Today I want to talk about off-grid ways to communicate when a cellphone is not an option. Hopefully this will never happen to you. But you need to be ready if it does.
Today I want to take a look at different ways to communicate when you don’t have your cellphone with you. Or when it’s at 0 percent power.
One option is ham radio. FEMA uses this method when communication lines are down to communicate vital information during emergencies. Ham radio is also used in police stations, fire departments, hospitals and shelters.
Because ham radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), users need a valid license.
Another option is CB radio. Truckers use this form of communication on a daily basis. Some families and businesses use FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios. They also require licenses due to FCC regulations.
In an emergency, you’d rather rely on a satellite than a telecommunications network. That’s why satellite phones are so effective. Of course, they should only be used in emergencies. They are expensive and calls are traceable. In some countries, it’s illegal to own a satellite phone.
Depending on where you are when an emergency occurs and your cellphone is dead, you might be able to find a phone booth. There are far fewer of them than back in the day, but they still exist.
Another great option is a landline phone. The challenge in this case is convincing a stranger who owns one to allow you to use it.
GPS Messenger Beacon is considered the little brother of satellite phones. It has an SOS function that transmits your GPS location with an emergency signal to search and rescue teams. It also gives you the ability to send a pre-programmed message to family and friends with GPS coordinates attached.
You probably don’t own any homing pigeons or Pony Express horses. But if you really want to take the covert communication thing to a new level, consider learning Morse code.
This was first used in 1844 after being invented by American Samuel F.B. Morse. The code turns letters, numbers and punctuation into a series of dots, dashes and spaces.
Information carriers such as an electric current, radio waves, sounds waves and even signal flags can communicate messages through Morse code.
With Morse code, it’s much easier to filter out background noise and hear weak signals than with some other communication methods.
Outdoor Life magazine calls signaling “one of the most under-practiced and underemphasized skill sets in our survival arsenal.” Here are seven ways to signal for help in an emergency. Remember the international code for SOS is three short, three long and three short signals, followed by a pause and then repeated.
- Fire. Keep it small and contained, and aim for an elevated area. If you have room and it’s safe, build three fires in a triangle or straight line, about 30 yards apart.
- Flag. Always carry a colorful signal flag in your bug-out bag. If you don’t have a signal flag, you can construct one out of colorful clothing attached to a stick.
- Flare gun. It should only be used in wetlands or over open water. They’re still burning when they fall, so they can be a serious fire hazard.
- Flashlight. You can use this item to flash an SOS whenever you hear an aircraft. This will be even more effective if your flashlight has a strobe option.
- Mirror. On a sunny day, this item can reflect sunlight as far as 10 miles away. It can be used to attract the attention of aircraft, watercraft or searchers on foot.
- Spell H-E-L-P. This did not work for Tom Hanks in Castaway, but it has been effective in real life. Use logs, tree branches, rocks or vegetation to spell out H-E-L-P in an open area.
- Whistle. The range is short for this simple device, but it is effective. Three short blasts are recommended to signal for help.
Like many other survival techniques, signaling for help is a skill best practiced before it’s needed. Knowing multiple ways to signal in an emergency can make a world of difference when the situation and surroundings are rapidly changing.
Family emergency plan
In anticipation of a phone-less crisis, establish a family emergency plan so you will know exactly where to meet family members.
Have a family meeting and make sure everyone knows that if an emergency occurs and no one can contact anyone else, you all will meet at a specific location.
Ideally this would be your home, but that might not be practical in every situation. Pick a secondary, central location everyone could get to without too much trouble from wherever they are most likely to be. Such as work, school or a grocery store.
Revisit this emergency plan every six months or so to update it. And make sure everyone keeps a current version of the plan in their wallet.
Talk-N-Go Walkie Talkies
I saved one of my favorite off-grid ways to communicate for last. It’s walkie-talkies. When a cell tower goes down and the Internet doesn’t work, you can still communicate with family members.
And this is a great time to get them because the Talk-N-Go Rechargeable Walkie Talkies from 4Patriots are back in stock.
These babies never need batteries, and they’re rechargeable via USB. We offer 16 different channels to avoid interference and you can stay connected for up to a three-mile distance.
Easy to use and a potential lifesaver, Talk-N-Go Rechargeable Walkie Talkies are even smaller than a cellphone. Keep tabs on the kids and grandkids, stay in touch while camping, communicate covertly in public… you’ll find all sorts of uses for them.