The ability to communicate post-disaster is absolutely essential if you want to make the most informed, and safest decisions that you can. Emergency communications not only help you to know impending weather, find resources, and avoid dangerous areas, but they also help you know where loved ones are at, or even allow you to call out for help should find yourself in some dangerous predicament.
You don’t need a tricked-out communication system (though that’s nice) to meet meet your communication prepper needs. You can start with a few simple products, some knowhow, and build from there as your interests or needs change.
It can be confusing to know just where to turn the dial to during a disaster if you’re new to emergency communications, however. You may have a radio, but knowing how to use it to its fullest potential is quite another matter. So, in order to help with this process, below are all of the emergency radio frequencies that I know.
I would encourage you to add more to the list in the comments section so we can update this post accordingly over time.
I would also encourage you to print this article off to keep should you need it some day down the road. Store it with your communication equipment.
Citizens’ Band (CB) radio is particularly popular with truckers, hikers, and campers. It not only is incredibly easy to use, but it’s a relatively easy form of disaster communications to break into. Part of the reason is due to the fact that there is no license required to receive or transmit. That’s nice.
I highly recommend that you get your family a CB radio and a disaster communications plan set into place so that you can still communicate without your phones or internet post-disaster. You can buy the classic CB radio for around $100.
CB radio operates off of 40 distinct channels, and pretty much every CB radio out there will have access to all 40 of these channels. Keep in mind that Channel 9 is distinctly reserved for the Emergency/REACT channel. As far as I know, it’s the only channel that is distinctly reserved.
Keep in mind that anything you say on CB radio frequencies can be heard by anybody else within range, so it is not a source of private conversation. There is also a lengthy list of “10 codes” that people use on CB radios. You will want to familiarize yourself with those.
CB Radio Abbreviations
REACT – Radio Emergency Associations Communications Teams. These are volunteers throughout the country who monitor this channel to assist in emergency situations. They often work at public events, disasters, and other emergency situations to provide valuable communications services.
- Channel 3 (26.985 MHz) – Prepper CB Network (AM)
- Channel 4 (27.005 MHz) – The American Preppers Network (TAPRN)
- Channel 9 (27.065 MHz) – Universal CB Emergency/REACT channel
- Channel 13 (27.115 MHz) – Typically used within campgrounds and marine areas
- Channel 15 (27.135 MHz) – Used by Californian truckers
- Channel 17 (27.165 MHz) – Used by Californian truckers headed east/west
- Channel 19 (27.185 MHz) – Main trucker channel
- Channel 36 (27.365 MHz) – Survivalist network
- Channel 37 (27.375 MHz) – Prepper 37 USB
Freebanding CB Radio
Freebanding is the act of utilizing the frequencies in-between the different CB channels. Oftentimes, you may need a CB radio with “freeband operation” in order to even tune in to these channels. Freebanding offers improved privacy over the typical 40 channels (simply because less people use it), but it by no means will give you a private conversation. Anybody within range can listen to what you say through freebanding CB channels.
- 27.3680 – Prepper network
- 27.3780 – Prepper network
- 27.4250 – Prepper network
While it requires a license to transmit, ham radio will allow you a range and breadth of communication that is not available post-disaster via other methods. You can get started in ham radio with a simple $25 Baofeng UV-5R, but I would highly recommend investing the money to get something a little more user friendly as your first ham radio. I made that mistake.
A better option for many would be something like Midland’s Dual Band Amateur Two-Way Radio. It can be used in the home or mounted in your vehicle. It has more power and is generally a better overall product, but the Baofeng is more portable. You could stick it in your bug out bag.
There is quite a steep learning curve with ham as well. The quintessential guide to learning ham radio (and passing the license exam) is the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual.
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, you can learn how to bounce signals off of the ionosphere, off of the moon, or even off of meteor showers. That takes a bit of study to figure out how to do, however. If you’re of a more technical/engineering mindset, you shouldn’t have any problem figuring any of this out. Keep in mind that night is typically a time of better reception quality.
- Frequency Range: 144-148MHz, 420-450MHz. Please kindly know that UV-5R would not transmit without this frequency range.
- 128 Channels 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS Dual-Band Display, Dual Freq. Display, Dual-Standby, A/B band independent operation, High/Low TX power selectable: Busy channel lock-out(BCLO)
You’ll also want to know some ways to find important ham radio frequencies beyond what I have below.
Ham Radio Abbreviations
NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government operated administration that sends out broadcasts every five minutes 24/7 relating to hurricane, storm, solar flare, nuke, and other emergency information.
FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Association. They are one of the frontline government agencies to respond to any large scale disaster with medical care, triage, shelter, food, and other forms of humanitarian aid.
- 34.90 – Nationwide National Guard frequency during emergencies
- 39.46 – Inter-department emergency communications by police
- 47.42 – Nationwide Red Cross channel during humanitarian aid missions
- 121.50 – International frequency for aeronautical emergencies
- 138.225 – Disaster relief channel used by FEMA
- 154.265 – Used by firemen during emergencies
- 154.28 – Used by firemen during emergencies
- 154.295 – Used by firemen during emergencies
- 155.160 – Used by various agencies during search and rescue operations
- 155.475 – Emergency communications for police
- 156.75 – International maritime weather alerts
- 156.80 – International maritime distress channel. All ships at sea are required to monitor this channel.
- 162.40 – NOAA
- 162.425 – NOAA
- 162.45 – NOAA
- 162.475 – NOAA
- 162.50 – NOAA
- 162.525 – NOAA
- 162.55 – NOAA
- 163.275 – NOAA
- 163.4875 – A National Guard emergency communications frequency
- 163.5125 – Military National Disaster Preparedness frequency
- 168.55 – Emergency and disaster frequency used by civilian agencies of the federal government
- 243.00 – Military aviation emergencies
- 311.00 – US Air Force flight channel
- 317.70 – US Coast Guard aviation frequency
- 317.80 – US Coast Guard aviation frequency
- 319.40 – US Air Force frequency
- 340.20 – US Navy aviator frequency
- 409.625 – Department of State national communications frequency
- 462.675 – Emergency communications and traveler assistance in General Mobile Radio Service
High Frequency Emergency Nets
There are different tiers of ham radio licenses, and to transmit via high frequency (HF), you’re going to need a specialized license. If you have a HF radio, these are some potential stations that you may want to check in on:
High Frequency Emergency Net Abbreviations
ARES – The Amateur Radio Emergency Service. A nationwide group of HAM radio volunteers with specialized training in emergency communications that provides communications services during emergencies.
RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. HAM radio volunteers who have registered with RACES to work with their state during various types of disasters. They are only called up after RACES has been activated.
SATERN – Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio. Salvation Army workers with emergency comms and message handling training that help the Salvation Army to coordinate its humanitarian aid efforts during and post-disaster.
- 03808.0 – Caribbean weather information
- 03845.0 – Gulf Coast
- 03862.5 – Mississippi Area Traffic
- 03865.0 – West Virginia Emergency
- 03872.5 – Hurricane information
- 03873.0 – West and Central Gulf ARES/Louisiana ARES, Mississippi ARES
- 03910.0 – Central Texas Emergency/Mississippi ARES/Louisiana Traffic
- 03923.0 – Mississippi ARES, North Carolina ARES
- 03925.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana Emergencies
- 03927.0 – North Carolina ARES
- 03935.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana ARES, Texas ARES, Mississippi ARES, Alabama Emergencies
- 03940.0 – Southern Florida Emergency
- 03944.0 – West Gulf Emergency
- 03950.0 – Hurricane Watch/Norther Florida Emergency
- 03955.0 – South Texas Emergency
- 03960.0 – North East Coast Hurricane
- 03965.0 – Alabama Emergency
- 03975.0 – Georgia ARES/Texas RACES
- 03993.5 – Gulf Coast health and welfare/South Carolina ARES/South Carolina RACES
- 03995.0 – Gulf Coast Weather
- 07225.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
- 072332.0 – North Carolina ARES
- 07235.0 – Louisiana Emergency/Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
- 07240.0 – American Red Cross/US Gulf Coast Disaster/Texas Emergency
- 07242.0 – Southern Florida ARES
- 07243.0 – Alabama Emergency/South Carolina Emergency
- 07247.5 – Northern Florida ARES
- 07248.0 – Texas RACES
- 07250.0 – Texas Emergency
- 07254.0 – Northern Florida Emergency
- 07260.0 – Gulf Coast West Hurricane
- 07264.0 – Gulf Coast health and welfare
- 07265.0 – Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio (SATERN)
- 07273.0 – Texas ARES
- 07275.0 – Georgia ARES
- 07280.0 – Louisiana Emergency
- 07285.0 – West Gulf ARES (day)/Louisiana ARES (day)/Mississippi ARES/Texas ARES
- 07290.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Gulf Coast Weather/Louisiana ARES/Texas ARES/Mississippi ARES
- 14222.0 – Health and Welfare
- 14245.0 – Health and Welfare
- 14265.0 – SATERN
- 14268.0 – Amateur Radio Readiness Group
- 14303.0 – International Assistance and Traffic
- 14316.0 – Health and Welfare
- 14320.0 – Health and Welfare
- 14325.0 – Hurricane Watch
- 21310.0 – Health and Welfare (Spanish)
- 28450.0 – Health and Welfare (Spanish)
Maritime US VHF Channels
If you are near the coast or oceangoing, these are a few of the frequencies that you may want to keep handy.
|Channel||Ship Transmit MHz||Ship Receive MHz||Use|
|13||156.650||156.650||Inter-ship navigation safety|
|16||156.800||156.800||International Distress, Safety, and Calling|
Final Frequency Thoughts
This is by no means going to be an exhaustive list of all the emergency radio frequencies out there, but it should give you a fairly good start. Many localities will have their own emergency frequencies that you are going to want to take note of to further refine your emergency communications prepping. For example, Alaska, California, The Rockies, and various other geographical regions are going to have not only their own weather stations, but they’re own forms of tornado watches, fire watches, avalanche watches, and the like.
If you would really like to delve into more emergency radio frequencies in your area, I highly recommend checking out the following sites:
- ARRL – National Association for Amateur Radio
- Repeater Database
- U.S Repeaters
- Amateur Radio Ham Radio Repeaters by State
In addition, you’re probably going to want to keep a copy of the ARRL Repeater Directory on-hand at all times if you are truly wanting to be prepared for a disaster situation. This book will give you all of the information you need for repeaters in your area, perchance the power ever goes down and you’re not able to use your phone or the internet to figure out what repeaters are around you.
- ARRL Inc (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
I hope this article has helped you expand your knowledge on prepper communication gear and strategies.
Are there other frequencies that you know about that didn’t make our list? Do you have other tips for emergency communications?
Let us know in the comments!
This is quite helpful.
Out of sheer pandemic boredom, I ordered the ubiquitous Baofeng radio over the summer. I spent a few hours studying, then went to a local ham club and passed the technician exam. So far, I’ve only been using the radio as a police scanner, and tuning in to the local repeater.
I’ll definitely print these frequencies and put them with my emergency gear.
Glad it could help, Duke.
Radio Selection, A Quick Overview.
Why is this article valuable? Every one talks about worst case scenarios, and get themselves tons guns, yet few can talk to each other, because they will not have a radio. With out a coordinated defense, we could be ‘sitting ducks’, or ‘fish in a barrel’ to attackers. We must able to perform the third most important part needed to defend ourselves. We must have the ability to shoot, move, and just as important, to communicate. Without even only a low power communications net, we are tactical vulnerable, we could be isolated, and would be picked off one by one.
A low power community radio network, and a small secured group net is the most needed and attainable. We spend thousands on guns and ammo, but this critically important part of our ability to defend ourselves receives woefully little attention in comparison, yet might only cost as little as a few hundred bucks for a box full of Boafengs. We should have a least two Boafengs or other hand held radio for each AR. An FRS radio might be the best choice for you. Most of the recommendations made are intended for use after a SHTF/WROL situation, or during a Civil Defense event. With the current potential for a civil war, or wide spread low level conflicts, especially in and around the urban and rural areas, serious considerations should be made.
There are hundreds of tutorials on how to use a Boafeng. The Boafeng is the best value out there, and also the most versatile. Use the license free MURS frequencies for a 1 to 2 mile range. Put the radio on an external antenna on the roof your vehicle, or better yet, on your home for a 2 to 5 mile range. A much more powerful mobile should be used in vehicles, or as a base station that talks to hand held radios. The combination of a base station radio with a good antenna that ‘talks’ to hand helds, can increase the range out to 5 to 10 miles, Any estimation of possible range of radio combination depend greatly upon the height of the antenna, and the surrounding terrain than can block signals. As Hams might say, ”height is might”. A VHF 50 watt mobile used as a base station with good antenna mounted at least 15 feet high can talk to a similar mobile in a vehicle out to 30, or more miles. Mobile are also needed in hilly, or undulating tree covered terrain. In such terrain, range is greatly reduced, and the higher powered mobile is the only way have reliable communication. Mobile radios of at least 25 watts, are essential. UHF mobile and hand helds using frequencies in the 70cm, FRS, and GMRS bands do better in the concrete canyons of the cities, but have about half the range forested areas. However, beware that you must follow FCC rules, or risk a hefty fine, and the confiscation of equipment if you are not properly licensed to use higher powered radios, and the various radio services as defined by the FCC. Purchase a no test license for a about $70.00 for the entire family to use 50 watt GMRS mobile radios legally. And there might be GMRS repeaters in your area.
Getting a Amateur Radio license is easy, and allows the operator to use higher power equipment and repeaters that offer extended coverage legally. Also be aware, however, that during times of war, Amateur Radio licenses are historically likely to be revoked, and repeaters are no longer available. One of the most under utilized radio options is an excellent choice for the survivalist/prepper, as provides a usefully wider coverage from a base station to a mobile is the CB with Single Side Band (SSB). Effectively, this is s CB that uses a different type of modulation, or ‘mode’ that has the equivalent power out of a 12 watt radio. A base station using CB with SSB can talk to a mobile reliably out to about 20 miles away. This a good alternative to higher power VHF/UHF mobile radios as it is license free. The CB with SSB can also talk to regular CB’s. No programming is needed, and there are plenty of You Tube instructional videos.
With the price of ammo so high, or simply unattainable, the best place to put part of the pay check would now be into radios. Improve on what you got, or get started. A team of marksman spread out over hundreds of yards using using only bolt action hunting rifles, but coordinated by use of hand held radio, could be a much more effective force than a gang with only box fed semi auto rifles.
(Reposted on Gab, and possibly on survivalblog.com)
This has been my biggest fear. No comms. I am a HAM but I was soured by your comment on HF radio. If you want to have the big picture, you need an HF rig and someone that knows how to play with it. I think you know what I mean. I have an HF rig that will XMIT and RX from 1.8MHz to 463.975 continuous excluding general broadcast and Aviation band, but it will receive the blocked XMIT bands. That is world wide! Down the corner and around the block isn’t going to work in a SHTF scenario. Squad tactics, yes it will work well, but big picture will not. You want to know what everyone else is doing and thinking as well. Just my 2 cents.
I like the way your thinking.
Do not understand what soured you. Have nothing againist HF. I plan on using it for local and regional comms using Near Vertical Incident Skywave propagation. My need for skywave propagation is minimal however. VHF/UHF, particularly the 2 meter band, will the most used.
Not a wire head… unskilled w/comms. Leaving on a month + long .. leaping bug out trip & test to see the country Sept 13th. on. Lot to see.. lot to learn. Taking notes.. map notes.. and trying to see & listen to the ‘ques’ the land gives me. I’ll be on CB37 .. C.Q.ing now and again….. Handle is “Tinker” .. as in Tom the Tinker …..
This is a good article, thank you. The thing I have been thinking about is super low power communications that can cover local, regional, and world-wide all at the same time and is also portable with antennas that are very manageable. Local is always the most important thing, but regional is also pretty essential as knowing what is going on, as can be worldwide ability. Battery powered that can be recharged with a small solar panel. And so on. That is CW Morse code commo. Folks need to take time to learn Morse code, if the SHTF we aren’t going to have repeaters or Internet. And power will be an issue.
You are not going to find something that can do ‘local regional national ‘ communications at the same time.
The only possibility would be the 20 meter amateur band.
Most other bands are going to be either local in nature or national/international.
The distance factor is also dependant on :
The time of day
The band selected
The mode used ( am,fm, ssb, digital ( including things like wsjt. ) )
The power and antenna type/height used
There’s a couple of other things that can make a MAJOR difference on any ham band. One is whether it’s night or day. the ionosphere behaves differently at night than it does during the day. Some bands work better in the daytime, others better at night. Also, space weather can affect communications. And local meteorology can as well. Twenty meters is a good all around band but I’ve talked very long distances on 40 and 80 meters at night, and the higher hf bands can be quite good under the proper atmospheric conditions. It’s not fixed in stone. When you get your radio and license, read up on which bands are best at night, day, etc. And also about the differences the seasons make. Fascinating. I’ve been in the ham hobby since the 1970s.
The ionosphere affects the high frequency (1.8-30 mhz) bands primarily, and to a lesser extent 50 mhz.
This makes 50 mhz and up local bands , pretty much line of sight.
The higher the antenna the better.
Vhf and uhf are good choices when you want local communications.
If you are concerned about others overhearing your transmissions, use the lowest power necessary to achieve comms and don’t discuss sensitive stuff ( we have xxx trucks of food, ammo, supplies, etc coming at 3:00 today…)
Very true on the ionosphere. RARELY those higher frequencies can provide long distance communication but this is the exception rather than the rule. Mostly line of sight like you say. I’ve heard of a few occasions, and experienced one where I communicated to the other end of the state of Florida on 2 meter simplex with about 10 watts with a hurricane offshore. A meteorologist who’s also a ham told me the propagation was made possible by “ducting” where the different air masses actually help the radio signal. I think one of the longest communications ever made on 2 meters occurred between the mainland and Hawaii sometime back (don’t remember the year) under similar circumstances. Two meters is very rarely good for anything other than line of sight. Local communications.
Most of the time, my 50-watt HAM Radio goes about 30-50 miles on 2 meters. But lately, I have been talking with other HAMS WAY far away in other States hundreds of miles away. Called ‘Atmospheric Propagation’.
This is just the kind of information the public NEEDS for when Hillary Clinton uses her Illuminati powers granted to her by the Reptilians to control Bigfoot when he comes to tAK HouR GUNzs?!!!
FEMA and NOAA are NOT ham radio abbreviations
You might be referring to ham radio q signals (which were originally intended for use with Morse code to reduce the number of words you had to transmit) but these days are commonly used on voice frequencies as well because they accomplished the same effect for example qth is used to mean my location is
A very good article, but why no references to GMRS or FRS radios?
The author may not know a great deal about them. They are useful services in an emergency and I don’t think FRS requires a license, but I’d definitely check on it before transmitting on one. Not sure about GMRS. I believe a license is required there. I’m a licensed ham radio operator personally and have been since the 1970’s.
Just a comment on your article. Channel 9 on Citizen’s Band is actually reserved by Federal law for emergency use. I don’t have the law handy, but it’s in the Federal statutes relating to the Citizens Band Radio Service. And NOAA and FEMA are not ham radio abbreviations. They’re abbreviations for Federal agencies hams sometimes interact with. NOAA is the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration which among other things, runs the NOAA Weather Radio Service nationwide. Other countries also have their own versions of Weather Radio and in every place, it’s a receive only frequency … no transmitting permitted. FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Service which is most well known for responding after disasters like hurricanes or eathquakes. They also would likely be activated for something like a war as well. Neither one of these agencies license or control ham radio but hams interact with them, especially FEMA which has some agreements with hams concerning radio. I hope this has helped you out some. I’ve been an amateur radio operator since the 1970’s.
The “Midland’s Dual Band Amateur Two-Way Radio” link appears to be intended to take one to Midland’s DBR2500 amateur dual band two way radio, which apparently has been discontinued. …But the AnyTone AT-778UV appears to be exactly the same except for the Midland/AnyTone logo swap & it is available
I am new to radio but a prepper since 2008. Always had cb radios as comms. But recently pirchases a 10/12 meter raduo and added cb or 11 meter to it. Radio is PEAKED TO 75 wats, so just was on cb long enough to test range. in Dallas texas and talke to someone in NJ and NM, if they are telling the truth that is. i have a wire antenna and base station antenna and good mobile antenna, just incase i need it. Bought a 150 to 200 watt amp just in case and battery packs. Getting my ham tech license. However this set up gives me far more capability than b4. Have no idea how to use repeaters yet, but got more power incase those are down. I CAN RELAY INFO TO CB USERS THIS WAY IN EMERGENCIES. Best of both worlds. Dont count on repeaters being up..However somwnwill be protected and some will be put up afterwords..Incase of an emp nocks them out..