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#288127 - 02/06/18 01:50 PM Radios, gas, and first responders
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2886
Loc: USA
Yesterday, I was stopped in my car for several hours behind a big pileup crash, and as I was stopping witnessed a car go hurtling off the road into a steep, deep ravine.

A trucker and I were able to get the driver of the car up and out of the ditch uninjured, which was good because the first responders were totally saturated for many hours and the motorist could easily have been injured or killed by the cold.

I got some good reminders out of this.

First and foremost, make sure you have not less than a quarter tank of gas at all times in the cold, with half a tank being preferred. It was really cold and windy, and we were far more comfortable inside the car with the heat on than with any of the other options available.

Second, if you do carry a radio (FRS, GMRS, MURS, ham, CB, whatever) as part of your kit, maybe carry two. I was able to hand off a radio to one of the other self-activated civilians checking up on people. Thank goodness he didn't need me, but I had medical gear and training available for those whom the first responders couldn't get to. He had appropriate outerwear and enthusiasm, which was far from nothing.

Third, when you can safely and responsibly solve your own problems and the problems of the people around you, the first responders can stay focused on the people who need them the most.

Fourth, and as always, there's a reason I picked "chaosmagnet" as my nom de plume here. I sure wouldn't have minded if yesterday had been more boring.

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#288130 - 02/06/18 02:22 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: chaosmagnet]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6273
Loc: southern Cal
Good story,with worthwhile implications for us. It is always good to see citizens acting effectively in challenging situations.

As for gas tanks, I always try to keep mine at least half full (not half empty, that would be bad). In earthquake country, figure on widespread and prolonged power outages, with gas pumps inoperative. Better yet, drive a hybrid, like Mrs. Hikermor.

Glad to see you justified your handle. Jolly good show!!
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Geezer in Chief

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#288131 - 02/06/18 04:20 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: chaosmagnet]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1259
Loc: North Carolina
Chaos, excellent. It demonstrates again that a little preparation can go a long way, not just for you, but for those around you. Most of us here do not just prepare for our own survival or sustainability.

Which type of radio do you recommend for highway travel? What type will enable contact with emergency services as well as personal 2 way comms?

I am in the same boat as far as being that guy who always seems to be around things happening. It is why I prep; experience tells me I should.

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#288135 - 02/07/18 04:25 AM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: chaosmagnet]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2886
Loc: USA
Iím a ham radio operator of decades, the radio comms lead for my CERT, and a member of a local amateur radio club primarily focused on supporting our local first responders.

Where I live and work, thereís no good way to use a two-way radio to reach first responders directly. Your best bet is to reach someone else, most often an amateur radio operator, who has telephone service available.

Some radios will reach first responders directly on their own frequencies, if programmed for that. Please donít even think about doing that unless the situation is life or death and you donít have another way that will work to reach help. Itís illegal because amateur handhelds are not type accepted for use on public service radio frequencies, because amateurs are not licensed to transmit on those frequencies, and because if the first responders decide to charge you with interfering with their use of the frequencies you could end up with serious criminal liability.

I recommend that if youíre serious about being ready for a communications emergency you should get an amateur radio license.

While hard to program without a cable and software and limited in output power, the Baofeng UV5R is inexpensive and very flexible in its capabilities.

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#288137 - 02/07/18 12:24 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: chaosmagnet]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2886
Loc: USA
Thinking more about Montanero's question, I'm not sure I answered it as well as I wanted to.

I do not believe that any state police agencies monitor CB Channel 9 any more. You might find another CB user willing to help you, but my experience with CB has not been so positive and I don't own a CB transceiver any more.

As a ham, if you can reach another ham, it's a given that they'll relay your message to first responders if they can.

For FRS and MURS, range is poor and you're unlikely to reach anyone you didn't bring with you. GMRS is better in some areas. On the water, there's a darn good chance that Marine VHF is being monitored by the Coast Guard or a local law enforcement agency. I'm not aware of any land-based radio service where this is true.

Cellphones, obviously, are the way to go if they work where you are. I'm still thinking long and hard about buying an InReach.

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#288139 - 02/07/18 02:49 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: chaosmagnet]
Famdoc Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 77
Loc: PA
Excellent post by chaos, as usual: agree with getting the ham radio license, etc.
I have my general ham license and a Kenwood DH-T72A handi-talkie. I've twice left it in my vehicle on a hot day and the $50 lithium-ion battery pack that comes with the radio wouldn't power on. The heat seemed to toast the battery pack the first time, so, $50 later, I was up and running again. . .
The second time around silly me left the radio again in the vehicle on a hot day; wouldn't turn on, but finally did a day or two later.
Anyone else with similar experience with handhelds not turning on after being left in a hot car?
I'm reluctant to spend more for a second or a pair of radios, even Baofengs, if they will not be usable if the need arises on a hot summer day.
Thoughts?

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#288140 - 02/07/18 03:03 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: Famdoc]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4733
Loc: SOCAL
A hot summer day is one thing, inside a closed car on a hot summer day is something else. If your car has a trunk, Iíd recommend putting a cooler in the trunk to store stuff that needs to stay cooler than your carís interior ó whatís that get to, 160ļF ??

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#288141 - 02/07/18 04:49 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: Russ]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6273
Loc: southern Cal
A car interior is certainly an excellent solar heater, but I notice that the trunk space in my conventional white sedan, totally separate from the passenger compartment, is remarkably cooler and could probbly keep a battery cool just fine, even without a cooler...

Along nearly all major highways, does one not have cellphone coverage, so that a radio is not required to summon help. Radios aren't always that dependable, for that matter.
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#288142 - 02/08/18 02:08 AM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: chaosmagnet]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2886
Loc: USA
My Baofeng LiIon batteries last for a very long time stored in the trunk (for the emergency kit radio) and in the glovebox (because why not keep a radio in the glovebox?) as long as they donít sit discharged for long periods.

I have never owned a D72A but my original Kenwood TH-F6A battery is still going strong and often ends up in the trunk on hot days.

The cabin is probably the worst place to keep electronics on hot days, followed Iíd suspect by the glovebox and then the trunk.

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#288143 - 02/08/18 10:06 PM Re: Radios, gas, and first responders [Re: hikermor]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2822
Originally Posted By: hikermor

Along nearly all major highways, does one not have cellphone coverage, so that a radio is not required to summon help. Radios aren't always that dependable, for that matter.


First car my wife and I bought when we got married we had a cell phone before they had batteries. Driving on the highway a fusible link blew and we lost all vehicle power which also prevented us from using the phone. We were close enough to an exit to walk to find a place to call AAA.

A couple summers ago we were driving through PA and heard on CB channel 19 "anyone have a cell phone I can borrow" and came around a curve in the highway and there was a truck off the side of the road. We stopped and the drivers cell phone was dead and the truck had no electric power. We let him charge his phone from my truck and use our phone to call his company to request help.

So there are times when cell phones are not dependable either and there are times where the broadcastability of radios can help as well. Don't toss the hammer because you have a screwdriver, keep both.

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