So much of our lives revolve around being able to efficiently communicate with one another. Communication is key to the effective execution of plans. Natural disasters, cellular network failures, or just simple loss of internet connectivity can all impair your ability to effectively communicate.
Have a Comms Plan
Having a comms plan means you and those you'll need to communicate with know how to get in touch with each other. You should have your plan written down and readily available; keep one at home, in the car, and at work. The plan should consider the following:
- Who will you need to communicate with?
- What tools and methods will you use to communicate?
- When will you communicate?
- How often will you communicate?
This may seem straightforward, but it does require that you put thought into your planning. You'll need to make the tools in your plan accessible, and they need to also be methods you and your group have access to. For example, you can't be the only one with a handheld radio - that's not much use to anyone unless you rely on others as a part of your plan.
A book we recommend, Prepper's Communication Handbook, describes a simple system to use that helps you define how you will communicate in various situations. It is called the PACE system. Think of it as a simple protocol that will be followed to help you get information to the person you are trying to communicate with.
Let's imagine I am trying to message my girlfriend, and she works 20 minutes from the house. I have to leave the house with the pups because there was a housefire. I want to let her know that we are safe.
- Primary Method (P) - Text message. If she doesn't respond then...
- Alternate Method (A) - Phone call. If she doesn't answer then...
- Contingency Method (C) - Email her work and personal accounts.
- Emergency Method (E) - Call her parents and let them know where we are and what happened.
The PACE system helps you to define your order of operations. It also helps you think through who you want to communicate with and how you will communicate with them. These are the types of things you do not want to have to figure out during an emergency.
As with all plans, you need to practice communicating. You need to know the limitations of your tools. You need to have a backup in place, should your primary tools fail. You must also have shared your plan with those who are on your list of important contacts and practiced your plan with them.
In Portable Radios I, we talk about tools such as amateur radio and discuss in-depth how to craft your communication plan and what considerations you will need to make.