During a disaster, getting news and information is a key element to making good decisions. A portable battery-operated shortwave radio receiver (with HF Ham bands) will be a great asset.
At a minimum, get yourself an inexpensive portable AM radio.
[ Read: Best Cheap Pocket Radio for AM/FM Band ]
Even better, take it to the next level with a portable battery operated shortwave radio. It will provide more opportunity (more bands) to get even more information – which may be critical during a disaster.
Listening to Shortwave Radio, whether a hobby, or gathering information during a disastrous event, will provide news and information from around the region, country, and the world. Broadcasts and sources ranging from government, business, independent stations, and individuals.
In addition to ordinary news gathering, there are many emergency situation scenarios where a portable battery operated shortwave radio will be a valuable asset to be used to gain critical real-time information. Perhaps before others get the information – enabling a head-start on decision making. The sooner you understand what’s going on, the sooner you can make good decisions.
For example, let’s say your entire region loses electrical power. Lets say this results in a mostly, or total blackout of information from local broadcasters. Most people rely on cable TV, satellite TV, or the internet for their sources of information. These stations could be completely off the air – and your TV will be down anyway from the grid being down. Some radio stations and transmitters will have emergency power generators, and if you had a portable (battery operated) radio, you could find out what’s going on. A shortwave radio will enable you to hear stations from very far away, enabling you to hear information from around the region, nation, and the world – beyond just your local region.
Choosing a portable shortwave radio receiver
There are many portable shortwave radios out there to choose from. I’ve written about it several times. Here’s one article:
Though no longer manufactured, I believe the following portable shortwave radio is (one of) the best. I’ve had it for many years and am still completely satisfied with it’s quality and longevity. You can still find them in good used condition.
(view on amzn)
The TECSUN brand also has a great reputation. I will suggest two of their models. The PL-380 is quite reasonably priced (although not as feature-rich). This portable shortwave radio comes with great reviews – and looks to be a great value.
If you can afford this TECSUN model, the PL-880 is their top-of-the-line. Excellent reviews. And it has SSB (Single Side Band) reception, which is necessary for listening to Amateur Radio Operators talking on the HF Ham radio bands.
A typical ‘shortwave radio’ is more than just an AM/FM radio. It has frequency bands that for decades have allowed broadcasters (and Ham radio operators) to bounce signals around the globe. Whereas AM is fairly local (much wider range at night, even up to ~1,000 miles if you’re DX’ing) – and FM is very localized.
If you take the PL-880 as an example, this radio will receive the following bands:
- FM: 64-108 MHz
- SW: 1711-29999 KHz (including the 10 – 80 Meter Amateur Radio Bands)
- AM: 520-1710 KHz
- LW: 100-519 KHz (popular in Europe)
Shortwave radio broadcasters will typically ‘target’ their broadcasts to specific parts of the globe based on several technical factors including antenna design and orientation, the frequency they use, the time of day, and even the time of year.
Shortwave radio schedules are most always listed in UTC time (Coordinated Universal Time), which basically means the time in London, and is typically displayed in a 24 hour format.
The current UTC time.
A good source of shortwave radio schedules can be found here, Prime Time Shortwave.
Shortwave radio listening can be an enjoyable hobby, while at the same time providing an additional layer of preparedness while receiving information in the event of a ‘grid-down’ situation, be it local – or wider.
Get one that includes Ham radio bands (and SSB)
Good shortwave radios will also include the HF Ham radio bands. I would definitely recommend choosing one that has these bands. This way, you can listen to individual Ham radio operators all around the country, and world, when conditions are right. In addition, you’ll need SSB (Single Side Band) reception capability.
Note regarding the threat of EMP, electromagnetic pulse. You might consider keeping a spare portable shortwave radio in a do-it-yourself Faraday cage.
[ Read: Shortwave and Ham Radio Bands ]