CB Radio after SHTF?
Is it worth having a CB radio after SHTF? That’s a good question. Let’s look at CB radio and find out.
What are CB Radios?
Citizens Band radio (also known as CB radio) allow short-distance radio communications between individuals on 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 m) band. Citizens band is distinct from the FRS, GMRS, MURS, and Amateur Radio Service (“ham” radio) systems. In many countries operating a CB does not require a license, and (unlike amateur radio) it may be used for business or personal communications.
Like many other two-way radio services, citizens band channels are shared by many users. Only one station may transmit at a time; other stations must listen and wait for the shared channel to become available. Traditionally stations waiting to use a shared channel will broadcast the word “Break” during a lull in the conversation. This informs the other people using the channel that someone is waiting to transmit.
They can transmit and receive from a mile or two up to 20 miles (depending on antenna) and in some circumstances much much further.
CB Radio availability
CB’s are readily available, can be found laying unused in many garages, attics and basements. You can even find them still in older cars sitting in junk yards or scrap yards.
CB Radio Operation
CB radios are very simple to use. Even if you’ve never seen or touched a CB radio before, you could pick one up and be communicating in a matter of seconds.
- Ensure that there is an antenna connected.
- Turn on the power.
- Tune to a channel (channel 9 is for emergencies only and channel 19 is typically the hang out spot, or “calling channel”).
- Pick up the microphone, wait for a lull in any active conversations.
- When there is a lull, key the mic and say “Break”, hopefully they will acknowledge you.
- Key the mic and transmit your message.
It’s good form, to switch to an unused or less busy channel if you want to have a conversation. Use channel 19 to connect with your contact, then move to another channel.
Be aware that anything you transmit or hear will likely be picked up by many other people. Do not forgo OpSec in your communications. Do not give out any information that is sensitive.
CB Radio use after SHTF
CB Radios will likely be one of the unsung heroes after SHTF.
Since they are still readily available, simple and have a decent transmit and receive range I expect the 40 channels (and sidebands) will be widely used for communications immediately following a disaster or grid down situation. This means that you’ll be able to listen to plenty of recon and local “news” reports from other folks, using CBs in your area, just by listening. This alone make the CB radio a must have!