Emergency Shortwave Radio: Preparing for Emergencies and Disasters

Emergency Shortwave Radio: Preparing for Emergencies and Disasters

Disasters and emergencies can strike anywhere and at any time. When you find yourself in the middle of one, would you rather cower in fear or brave the situation and survive because you have prepared? If you have to choose between the two, it’s best to choose the latter. This is where an emergency shortwave radio becomes useful.

What is an emergency shortwave radio?

An emergency shortwave radio, or ESR, is basically a receiver that can, what else, receive radio transmissions over a specific range of frequencies. These frequencies usually range between 3 and 30 MHz.

ESRs are known for their ability to communicate over long distances. Worldwide communications are made possible, not just with the help of the Internet, but also with emergency shortwave radios.

Why do you need an ESR?

Since disasters and emergencies, natural or otherwise, have risen over the years, government agencies have advised that homeowners be more prepared to handle the situation. There are plenty of items you can have in your grab bag or safe house during an emergency situation such as food, water and other necessities.

But what you shouldn’t take for granted is the ability to communicate during such times.

Phones and the Internet may not be up during emergency situations. There may not even be any electricity, so you cannot rely on your usual fare for communicating with loved ones or even authorities to learn the progress of the situation, and for them to know that you are alive and needing rescue.

This is why an emergency shortwave radio is an important item to have in your survival kit. It allows you to listen to the progress of the emergency situation, and hear details of safe places to go, where the survivors are, and the like.

What kind of ESRs are there?

With the evolution of technology, there are now different kinds of emergency shortwave radios, each one designed to be more user friendly over the years. The changes in designs have also answered common concerns regarding power sources.

Portable

Portable ESRs are very popular, based on the fact that they are easy to carry around. They are compact and are generally powered through solar energy, batteries, or even crank powered. The downside to a portable radio is that it does not have as wide a range as an advanced radio.

Desktop

This is the favorite type of radio for enthusiasts as well as advanced listeners and for a good reason. Desktop ESRs have a wider range of frequencies, better sound quality, and can even pick up frequencies aside from the shortwave band. The downside to the desktop radio is that it is larger and needs to be plugged in.

All-in-one­

All-in-one radios are also making waves in the market because of the many things they can do. Aside from picking up shortwave frequencies, they can also pick up AM/FM stations.

What makes for a good ESR?

To the novice eye, any radio can be a good radio. Maybe you’ll even look at the price and think the more expensive it is, the better it may be. However, price should not be your only standard for picking out a good emergency shortwave radio.

Frequency overage

When you’re looking for a good radio, this should be on top of the list of things to look for. Your radio should be able to catch a wide range of frequencies; the wider the range it can capture, the more useful it is for you, most especially in emergency situations. Look for models that will allow you to listen to frequencies between 540 kHz to 30 MHz

Display

There are two types of frequency displays: digital and the analogue. If you have to choose between the two, it’s best to select the digital display as it allows you to pinpoint the exact frequency. The analogue display will require a lot of tinkering and guessing to find out which frequency you want to lock on to.

Modes

The more affordable radios will usually offer AM mode, but there are also radios that transmit not only AM, but also SSB and other modes. When selecting an emergency shortwave radio, it’s best to select one that offers multiple modes. This will give you a wider listening option.

Antenna connections

You might not be bothered by this option, but it’s one you should look into. Most radios will come with a built-in antenna but you should look for a radio that allows an external antenna connection to offer you better reception.

Selectivity

Portable radios will allow you to choose between narrow and wide selectivity bandwidths, but it’s best to choose a radio that allows you to use narrow selectivity because you will experience less interference from the adjacent stations.

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