Ham Radio In Disasters

Kid on ham radio

When All Else Fails . . . Amateur Radio Works!

• Imagine if you desperately needed to call for help but suddenly lost your voice.
• What if it wasn’t just your voice but your ability to communicate?
• What if the same problem was affecting ten thousand, or a hundred thousand, or more?

• At some point our standard means of communications (cell phone, landline, and Internet) will likely fail.

• It could be as catastrophic as Hurricane Sandy or the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Northeast Japan; a cyber-attack on the phone company computers; or as simple as vandals cutting the fiber optic cables (as happened in Santa Cruz / San Jose). 

What Can You Do?

• How will people in Topanga call for help when our standard means of communications fail?
• How will our government agencies know where to send resources when we can’t call 9-1-1?

• What single thing can we do, regardless of age or physical ability that will improve our chances of surviving a disaster in the Canyon?

The Answer is Amateur Radio!

Amateur Radio operators, or ‘hams’, regularly provide critical communications during emergencies. Even in this age of cell phones, IM, text messages, and e-mail, when disaster strikes and the normal infrastructure is disrupted, amateur radio is often the only way people communicate.

Get your amateur radio license, get an amateur radio transceiver, and become an active part of Topanga’s Disaster Radio Team (DRT). It will take two days of studying, passing a multiple-choice federal exam, and $50 to $200 for a radio. Once you are licensed and part of the team, it takes just a few minutes of practice, once a week, to improve your survivability and that of your neighbors. This is something you can do for yourself, for your family, and the community.

DRT is part of T-CEP, and works with CERT radio teams and Sheriff’s Department volunteers to provide emergency communications throughout Topanga. The group boasts over 30 members, and is eager to welcome more volunteers and train them to be part of the team.

Why amateur radio and not cell phones or Family Radios (walkie-talkies)? Because they simply don’t work in Topanga – they have very limited range, and we’ve tried for years to make them work – they just aren’t as effective as amateur radio, not anywhere near as effective.

How to Get Started

There are entry-level amateur radio classes offered every quarter at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department, and exams offered every weekend within 25 miles of Topanga. You can study on your own, or take a class. It requires about 8 hours of reading, and you only have to do it once to get your license.

Visit the website, www.hamclass.goodkin.net, contact hamclass@goodkin.net, or call 818 222-7893 for information about classes and exams.


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