Well, we all had “fun” during Hurricane Irma’s visit to Georgia. We hope everyone has recovered well, and that we will be able to weather all future storms.
Here are a few tips, mainly for new hams but a good review for all of us, to follow during severe weather.
- We all must take care of ourselves first. When we receive word of an impending storm, make certain that all moveable objects outside are secured. This includes external radio antennas. The author partly took down his G5RV antenna so that during the storm’s wind it would not snap. The antenna did not come down to the ground, but was caught up somewhere in a tree. It just sagged by about three feet. It not only survived the storm, but worked flawlessly on an HF emergency net. At least it was less likely to break.
- Charge up all your batteries for emergency communication. When the power goes out, you will lose internet. When your cell phone battery runs out, it becomes a nice paperweight. Amateur radio may be the only means of communication available. The author has a 35 amp-hour battery which will provide HT communications for several days if used sparingly, and for months on a 5-watt handy-talkie (HT). I always try to keep the HT batteries charged. I also have a spare battery for one of my HTs.
- Have at least one battery powered broadcast (AM-FM) receiver. It will not only provide news and information, but may be your only source of entertainment during an extended power outage.
- Have spare antennas handy. In case we do lose an external antenna, the author has several antennas readily available. We can put them up anywhere. There are several magnetic (mag) mount antennas available. They cover HF from 20 meters through the VHF and UHF bands. Forty-meter and eighty-meter dipole antennas are also readily available.
- Know what emergency frequencies you will use. Most new hams are technicians, and are limited to frequencies above 30 MHz. Keep a list of whatever emergency frequencies your local ARES will use. If you have an HF rig, regardless whether you have a license for HF or not, there are many frequencies used for emergencies that are well worth monitoring. The National Hurricane Center has at least two that they use. Georgia ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) has both voice and digital frequencies. Note: even if you are licensed for HF, DO NOT TRANSMIT on these frequencies unless they are asking for call-ins or you have emergency traffic to pass.
Finally, be prepared. Have flashlights or other emergency lighting. Try not to use candles. They could start a fire. Have an alternate method of cooking food like a propane stove or grill. USE OUTDOORS ONLY! Another thing you can do is have foods available that do not need to be heated. Canned beef stew is not appetizing when eaten cold, but it sure beats going hungry!
73 de KJ4CMY