Radio & Energy

Emergency Communication Devices You Can Use When The Power Goes Out

If the power goes out everywhere, and you no longer can use phones, laptops, the internet, social media, e-mail, or anything like that, how the heck are you supposed to get in touch with people such as your loved ones?

The answer is to use backup communication devices: devices that can still be used even when the landline has fallen out, the internet is no longer connecting, and your phones are no longer picking up cell services.

As we’ll soon see, there are many such backup communication devices that will allow you to reach out and get in touch with your loved ones, as well as to possibly learn more about the outside world when the catastrophe has struck and you’re left blind about what’s really going on elsewhere.

We will now outline and discuss the best emergency communication devices that you can use when the power goes out, presented in alphabetical order:

CB Radio

The CB radio is the same kind of radio that most truckers use in semi-trucks.  It should be noted right away that this should never be considered as a primary emergency communication device in an SHTF disaster scenario because their range is very limited to only a few miles.  For disasters in a city, they’ll work in a pinch, but for sprawled out rural areas they’re hardly the best selection.

The most popular variant of CB radio is the kind that can be installed into a vehicle, though you can also have handheld variants that you can keep at home or fit in a bug out bag.

CB radios also have the distinction of being cost effective and easy to use, so for that reason alone, they’re worth having as an emergency communication option.  But again, range is very limited to only a handful of miles, so don’t treat them as your primary emergency communication device.


Another effective short-range communication option besides the CB radio will be either an FRS or GMRS radio.

FRS stands for Family Radio Service and MGRS for General Mobile Radio Service.

Each of these radios utilizes a UHF frequency and uses a fixed antenna.

The FRS radio range is also extremely limited up to around a mile or so, but they are very easy to use.  The FRS radio also does not require a license to operate.

A GMRS radio does require a license, which costs $70 for a five year period.  But on the flip side, its effective range is slightly extended out to about three miles.

Ham Radio

There’s no question that the ham radio is one of the most effective emergency communication devices in existence.  It can help you to contact others as well as to learn more about the outside world when disaster has struck.  But it’s also one of the most difficult to attain and learn how to operate.

This is because you need to get licensed to use a ham radio and to get the license, you will need to invest the time and the money into receiving training from three separate licensing classes.  In these classes, you will learn how to make a short-range communication, how to transmit a television signal or get in touch with somebody far away.

The ham radio itself and the various equipment that it requires is also rather expensive, and you can expect to pay several hundred dollars at least.  But as long as you’re willing to spend the time and money into getting one, it truly is a most excellent communication option.

Satellite Phone

If you could only own one emergency communication device, a strong and compelling case could be made that that device should be a satellite phone.  So long as the satellites are so functioning, so will the satellite phones, and even if they aren’t as effective as ham radios, satellite phones are far cheaper and easier to get your hands on.

Not only can you use satellite phones to make calls, but certain models will also allow you to send a brief text message (160 characters or less), and some also come installed with an emergency beacon.

Satellite phones are regularly used today as out in the middle of nowhere communication devices, so they should be a reliable option for when the grid goes down.

Walkie Talkie (AKA Two Way Radio)

Also known as the two-way radio, the concept being the so-called ‘Walkie Talkie’ is simple.  You have two or more radios connected to the same channel, and you’ll be able to speak to one another within a certain radius (usually around forty miles or less).

Walkie-talkies should never be the only or even the primary emergency communication device that you have on hand, but nonetheless, they are still a highly valuable item to have on hand.  If you’re going to go on scavenging missions with someone else and the two of you need to split up, for instance, you can use walkie-talkies to stay in touch throughout the mission.


As you can tell there are multiple different emergency communication devices that you can use in an SHTF situation.

It is highly advisable for you to have multiple emergency devices on hand and not just one, so you have different options available to you.

Yes, some choices such as the Ham radio require you to get a license, and if you’re not willing to take the time or spend the money to attain that license, you have other choices such as CB radios or walkie-talkies, which are incredibly easy to get and use.

What’s most important is that you have communication devices, to begin with so you’re not helpless when the internet and cell services go down.  If you can do that, you’ll be much more prepared than the most of the people around you, and more importantly, you’ll be able to get in touch with those you love when they’re separated from you.

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