Radio Scanners as Survival Tools

I rarely ever recommend folks to go out and buy the latest and greatest gadgets for survival preps. However, this is one piece of equipment I feel is worth the price. A radio scanner, sometimes called a police scanner, allows you to listen in on radio traffic (police, fire, rescue squad, etc.) in your area. As long as you don’t modify them so as to hear cordless phones or other prohibited conversations, they are quite legal to own and use.

You can find them at any decent quality electronics store, such as Radio Shack. I don’t recommend buying one at a big box discount retailer, such as Walmart, unless you know exactly what to look for in a unit. Be prepared to spend upwards of $100.00 to get a decent one. You want something that has an AC adapter to plug in at home, as well as being able to run on batteries or a DC plug for your vehicle. Further, get a portable one (handheld) rather than a base unit. I’ll explain why shortly.

The idea here is to perhaps get some degree of warning with regards to emergency situations. Radio traffic concerning roadblocks, for example, would allow you to plan a different route out of town if you’re trying to evacuate the area.

These scanners are programmable. Odds are good they’ll try to sell you the latest edition of the book that lists all the different radio frequencies. Don’t bother as this information is free online. My particular unit has 10 “banks” of 40 channels each. A bank is nothing more than just a group of frequencies. I can set it up to scan one bank, all of them, or any combination thereof. You want to program in all the emergency services frequencies in your area. Keep those all in the first few banks of your scanner. Then, program in State and Federal agency frequencies as they may apply to your area and concerns.

Now, here’s why you want a portable unit. If you anticipate having to travel any distance to get to your emergency retreat location, program the last few banks with the emergency services frequencies for the areas you’ll likely travel through between home and your retreat. Doing so will perhaps allow you a “heads up” as you approach those areas.

What If Wednesday – Last minute shopping

This is an ongoing feature of this blog. Every Wednesday, I’ll present to you a different scenario. You take the information given and run with it. Give some thought as to what you’d do and how you’d go about it. I understand there will be scenarios that just wouldn’t apply to you personally for whatever reason. Feel free to change it around a bit to suit your own situation. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

It is the middle of December and you’re out doing some Christmas shopping. Just as you enter your local big box discount retailer (Target, Walmart, whatever), your cell phone rings. A trusted contact, someone in your immediate survival group, tells you he has reliable information that the balloon is going up in a matter of hours. The news of this hasn’t hit mainstream media yet and probably won’t for at least the next hour. You have time to do one last shopping spree at this store. As luck would have it, since you came prepared to buy Christmas presents, you have about $400.00 cash in your pocket.

What do you buy? What gaps might you have right now in your preps?

Vehicle Emergency Kits

This is different from your bug out bag. While some components might be the same, the purpose is different. A bug out bag is designed to get you from Point A to Point B whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle. A vehicle emergency kit is to help you either get back on the road or keep you safe until help arrives if you’re stranded. It will be heavier and bulkier than your bug out bag and thus isn’t really designed for transport on foot.

While you might not know much about vehicle repair, you’d be wise to keep a small set of tools and related gear in your trunk. A Good Samaritan might be willing to assist you but if he or she doesn’t have tools on hand, there isn’t much they’ll be able to do for you.

A tool kit should contain:

  • Wrenches (standard and metric)
  • Socket set (standard and metric)
  • Variety of slotted, Phillips, and Torx screwdrivers
  • Pliers and channel locks
  • Hammer
  • Hose clamps
  • Spare fuses
  • Fix-a-Flat
  • Duct tape
  • Sharp knife
  • A couple quarts of oil
  • A gallon of water
  • Flashlight
  • Work gloves

The above should be enough to cover most basic emergency repairs to your vehicle.

In addition to the tool kit, you should have a blanket, season appropriate extra clothing, water (separate from the gallon devoted to your tool kit), and a couple days of food. For the food component, be sure to select items that won’t go bad quickly in temperature extremes and won’t need to be prepared in any way. Crackers, granola bars, hard candy, that sort of thing.

If at all possible, have a cell phone on hand as well. Make sure you have a car charger for it and keep the phone charged at all times. If nothing else, buy a cheap prepaid cell phone to keep in the car. Just be sure to stay on top of any renewals so you are able to use the phone if you need to.

What If Wednesday – Emergency Evacuation

This is an ongoing feature of this blog. Every Wednesday, I’ll present to you a different scenario. You take the information given and run with it. Give some thought as to what you’d do and how you’d go about it. I understand there will be scenarios that just wouldn’t apply to you personally for whatever reason. Feel free to change it around a bit to suit your own situation. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

It is 5:00AM and there’s pounding at your front door. Looking through the window, you see a squad car in the driveway. The Sheriff’s Deputy at your door tells you there has been a train derailment in the area and you need to evacuate immediately. He says you have ten minutes to grab whatever you need and be out the door. He’s not telling you what was on that train, only that there is immediate danger and it might be a fair amount of time before it is safe. The road to the north is the only route available to take when you leave, all other roads are blocked until further notice.

What do you grab? Can you grab all that in less than ten minutes? Where do you go? How do you get there?

If you’ve not done so recently, consider doing a “dry run” for a home evacuation. You might be surprised how long it really takes to get your stuff and head out the door.