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The National Preparedness Community

Tell Us Your Technology Tips for Preparedness

NPM Team - FEMA 1 year ago   Reply

Have you ever used your smartphone in an emergency and learned some best practices?

Do you store your important contact information and family emergency plan in the cloud in case you cannot obtain a physical copy?

Do you share emergency tips on social media like Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest?

Did you communicate with your friends during a disaster such as Sandy?

We invite you to share!

Modified by NPM Team - FEMA (1 year ago)

In the aftermath of Katrina, cell towers were compromised or flooded with calls.  Text messages were much more likely to get through than calls.  There were literally people stranded on rooftops texting relatives as far away as the east coast for help.  Amateur radio operators moved into outlying areas to assist in rescues, transferring information to the proper authorities, giving GPS coordinates to helicopter pilots not familiar with the local area.

Since then, cellular providers have adapted and have mobile towers ready to move in when the storm threat is past.  Amateur radio operators still perform valuable services in disaster stricken communities.  Comprised entirely of volunteers, they are often military and law enforcement active duty or retirees with specialized training useful in a disaster environment.

In the United States, there are two major methods of organizing amateur radio emergency communications: the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), an organization of amateur operators sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL); and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), a standby replacement radio service regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Operations under the RACES rules requires preregistration with a local civil defense organization, to allow continued operation under Part 97.407 of the FCC regulations in the event the Amateur Radio Service is ever shut down by presidential order. Thus ARES and RACES involvement within the same area are usually intertwined, with many governments requiring membership and service in that locale's ARES organization to allow operations within the Amateur Radio Service as well. Many government Emergency Operations Centers, Red Cross Chapters and National Weather Service facilities have permanent Amateur Radio stations installed for such operations.

Ken Swanson 1 year ago   Reply

We need to 'popularize' ham radio. We could establish a "Disaster Awareness Net Meeting" on a certain frequency, at a certain time. All stations could check in with their call sign. When the check-ins are complete, the top of the list starts a conversation. The station simply speaks from experience some topic of either awareness, preparation, mitigation, clean-up, or re-building. A few questions could be answered, and on to the next station. This could work on a national basis on a system that I know of that is international. And all walks of life can check in. And third party traffic could stand by to entertain the notion of becoming a ham. Ham radio is one of the the best options for incident communications assist. It's just not too popular. Just for kicks, call someone on your cell phone and hold the line open all day. See what that'l cost ya! Ham radio can be on all the time in conference mode. No cell phone can do that with any sustainability.


Redding, CA

We have "Disaster Nets" in this region with regular check-in times when dangerous storms are approaching or in the aftermath of a disaster.  It is little known to the general public, but widely recognized by first responders.


Ken Swanson 1 year ago   Reply

I have requested a Disaster Awareness Net Meeting on the Winsystem. They are thinking about it. Can you tell  me how I may reach one of your net meetings on the internet sometime?



Redding, CA

How do you earn your license? Is the gear reasonably priced? You have exciting ideas.
Chris Smith 1 year ago   Reply

You can prep for the test at Just set up an account and test for all three levels for free. You can get reasonable radios for basic communication from Amazon and Ebay starting around $50 and up. The FCC test is $15 to take the test and if you pass you can take all three at the same time for the same $15 fee. However I would not suggest doing all three at the same time its alot of information.  My family has been getting involved with HAM just for preparedness reasons. My 15 year old son is an EXTRA Class, my wife just passed her Technician class and I am a Technician Class about to test for my General Class. Its a great way to have another means of communication.



Dave Sparks 1 year ago   Reply

I second the suggestion to get a ham radio license. One of the local repeaters has a "Rescue Net" that meets weekly on the air and discusses topics related to search and rescue.

Also, I know that the Costa Mesa, CA CERT group also has the short range unlicensed Family Radio Service (FRS) radios and encourages local residents to buy them, too. If you need help and 9-1-1 and the phone systems are down, you can put out a call for help and hopefully a CERT team member will be close enough with a radio to come and help you or relay the message to someone else via ham radio.

Speaking of CERT it is *VALUABLE* training to first of all help yourself and your family in a disaster, then to put on your CERT vest, strap on your backpack, and go out your front door and check on your neighbors. I'd rather do that than go "Doomsday Prepper" (though I love the show) and hunker down ready to shoot any of my neighbors who might break in my front door.

Dave - AF6AS, Riverside, CA City CERT member

Timothy Laycock 1 year ago   Reply

I am very interested in the ham radio route, I am looking for advice on equipment and where to go to get further reliable info. Do you have a website or group on facebook etc that you recommend to help with this?

I share preparedness info on facebook & linkedin all the time, just shared a link for a 12 month preparedness plan on there last night.

I also use google docs to make my lists of things I need to do for prepping, that way I can access at work, home & on my cell whenever I need to.

I have also shared a doc with the family members & community members that are near me so we are all on the same "page" with info, lists and stuff like that.

Of course if there is no electric I can't access that list, but those lists are for stuff I still need to do.


That's really awesome to hear you are sharing preparedness plan info on Facebook with your family/friends. High five to you! A colleague of mine was a big source of sharing preparedness tips during Sandy to our network. Getting his info from FEMA, he really became a trusted resource in the area. I bet you are the same in yours!

-Lauren Modeen

Can I get the link to your 12 Month Preparedness Plan please?


Mark Kaintz

Chairperson, Rock Community Citizen Corps Council

Elaine Owen 1 year ago   Reply

Please share your link for preparedness plan. Many of us do not do Facebook and unless you are connected on LinkedIn, we can't get the link there. Thank You!

Thomas Rawding 1 year ago   Reply

 One of the main things to remember when planning to use a smart phone in an emergency, is that service may be down in the impacted area that you are at. Hurricane Sandy showed us that about 15% or more of cell phone service was disrupted in the affected area.

 Learn where your smart phone ISP service areas are before hand, so you can move away from the impacted area, into a serviceable location. And the most important accessory to have, in your car while traveling is a cigarette power adapter / charger for your phone when your on the road.


Great point about the phone charger in your car. With so many people relying on cell phones as their main source of connection, this is extremely important.

A friend recently showed me his backup phone charger he can take with him on the go. This is another great tool to have in an emergency situation. Having every bit of power possible can make a huge difference!

-Lauren Modeen

Modified by Lauren Modeen - Community Manager (Contractor) (1 year ago)
Kevin Harmon 1 year ago   Reply

Lauren and Thomas,

i also found a phone charger than can get its power from the 110 volt house wall receptacle, 12 volt car receptacle, USB port, or a regular 9 Volt battery.  It's great!  It goes with me everywhere!  

Kevin Harmon

Steve Oler 1 year ago   Reply

Folks should look into microcells. They work like cell towers, except they route the cell phone call through the internet. So if you have an active wired internet connection, your cell phone will work. I know AT&T and Sprint have them. I'd bet the others do too!

Kenneth Bibbins 1 year ago   Reply

I've been speaking with a group in New Orleans that has developed a great technology tool for emergnecy preparedness that they will launch this upcoming hurricane season. It's a system that allows instant family connectivity, encrypted cloud storage of vital and important documents and memorabilia, sms messaging, community communication, close ties only communication, storage of vital numbers  and pre-planned disaster routes and much more.... I am waiting on more information regarding this system but from what I've seen it appears robust and a tool that offers much in the area of assisting citizens in responding to, preparing for and recovering from disasters   

I also store several emergency information documents on my phone. You don't need a signal to access them, just battery power.