Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reply: Cell phones and SHTF

Anonymous said...After a real SHTF event Cell phone and even landlines may well be useless. I am a Ham and belong to the Navy/Marine Corps MARS radio system. In the hours immedialetly after the 9/11 event. Many cell phones, landlines and internet were giving busy signals. All lines were overloaded from everyone calling. A lot of internet did not work because much of it is still dial-up and there were no lines available. Phones, both Cell and landlines, are designed to be used with a capacity of no more than 25% of the subscribers using the system at the same time. More than that and the system has no capacity and is "Busy". You even see this on holidays when you get a recording that says to "please call later, all circuits are busy"
During 9/11, many emergency workers could not use their cells because everone was calling home or whatever. The Government found contrary to prior thinking, that cells were a poor sustitute for dedicated radios. That is why some systems are aranging dedicated emergency worker phones so that during a disaster they can lockout John-Q-Public and not overload the system. In addition, huge amounts of the landline trunking systems for New York were routed through the basements of the World trade Center. And as mentioned, the internet has the weakness of some in the system still use dial-up. You may have wi-fi or cable, but the recipient may not. If you're on dial up and can't make a phone call, you also can't use the internet. For several hours after 9/11 in Ohio, both my landline and cell were constant busy signals. The High speed Internet (Cable) was horribly slow to almost frozen.
With cells, it's not just about power backup, it's about line capacity.
Charles in Ohio

Hi Charles, I think the trick is never having your life depend on it, or better said, know that it may fail and have a backup plan for it.The CB radio is a good way to go.

Having said that, there's the Haiti survivors that used their phones, same thing in Chile, there even was a guy in Haiti that used his Iphone's first aid app to save someone's life!

Can fail indeed, but still worth having for sure. A must have if you ask me.



Anonymous said...

Regarding cell phone use in disaster type situation.

Although not such a situation, last year I was at a large motorcycle rally in a smallish town in my province. During the course of the weekend, cell phone use was almost impossible, including text and data. The system was grossly overloaded and almost every attempt to call or text failed. Text messages attempted during the weekend did not arrive until days later.

Be aware that in some areas, the network may not be setup for heavy traffic so that in a local emergency they may not function effectively or at all.

Bones said...

I'd still pick a cell phone as my #1 EDC item. Let's face it; during a natural disaster or other major emergency what works will be hit or miss but I'd rather be ready for a "hit" with cell communication.

But how will you charge it? Those little battery powered USB packs can be extremely useful. I have one that takes AA batteries and it's great for keeping power hungry smart phones juiced when you can't stop and charge up.

On a side note, in the US the ham radio licensing process dropped the Morse code requirement a few years ago making ham radio far more accessible and sparking something of a resurgence. A ham radio and a solar powered battery power system equals long term off the grid emergency communications.

Nolan said...

I agree that a cell phone is a must have, especially if it can send text messages (which I think all of them can do now). Communications is a good area to make sure to follow the 3-2-1 rule.

If all you have is a cell phone, it is very possible to be left without any form of communication. A lot of people figured that out in Louisiana when Katrina hit; though I think text messages still went through. I had texts turned off of my cell phone plan at that time and learned my lesson because texts went through but calls did not.

Anonymous said...

it's the Old "one is none" saying:
1. cellphone and
2. landline and
3. radio.

after ice storms in my area, the cell towers were down. only landlines worked. cable gone, too. internet available by landline only. and...the 'walkie-talkies' still did the neighborhood job. people bought them for their children and we tuned them to the same frequency. me...being the
'prepper' had lots of batteries
for everyone...except the cordless phones. most lost their charge in three days.

Anonymous said...

You can Buy a handheld VHF radio at almost every Boating store or Radio Shack. Yes I know they are supposed to be registered but if you are a Inland boater they are pretty relaxed on that requirement. Absolutly great to have on hand in an emergency. They follow pretty standard communications rules which can be found at the US Coast Guard or USCG Aux. websites. Just remember limited range and VHF is LOS (Line of Sight) So if you are in a valley or canyon it could be a problem getting your signal out.