Radios: Best Means Of Communication During Disaster Management

A lot of disaster preventive methods are been taught in different places. Even Government agencies have their precautions regarding danger zones and places exposed to a threat. No sane person would want to go near the Erta Ale live volcano in Ethiopia. Or move near the giant crystal cave in Mexico. Or take a tour to the Danakil Desert in East Africa. You may need to ask “what is the best means of communication during disaster management?”

These are places where everyone knows danger resides. It’s obvious the reason we wouldn’t want to go there. Like Benjamin Franklin said ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. A walk away from danger is better than a quick survival. But what if it’s an innocent adventure like hiking? Or even for someone living near the endangered areas, like the  Lake Nyos in Cameroon. Or even South Florida?

Well, here the way the FCC has pointed out the best help was by outlining some self saving aids. Like Keeping a corded phone at home, in case an emergency occurs; Having in hand an emergency list so you can get to trusted family and friends. Posting on social media, phoning a family member . But what if all these fail to be effective?

Early July 1916, a highly destructive tropical cyclone struck the central Gulf Coast of the United States.  It was tagged a Category 3 major hurricane on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson scale. It possessed maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h destroying lives and properties.

The hurricane made the rivers burst from their banks and it flooded the area, ruining houses, apartments stalls and service towers. This made it difficult and almost impossible to communicate.

2004, 26 December when people were boxing their gifts to celebrate the festivity, a strong and long-termed movement shook the earth from the Indian ocean. For about ten minutes, the ground kept on ‘faulting’. The earthquake was strong, it caused the planet to vibrate as much as 10 millimetres (0.4 inches).

This was accompanied by a series of tsunami waves up to 30 metres (100 ft). So intense the tsunamis killed an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries. Again buildings were ruined. The land was swept clean of all standing man-made buildings. Down went the cell towers that were supposed to keep family and friends in touch with each other, so much that for years, a large number of people were considered missing. Indonesia as a single country recorded over 50,000 missing persons.

So would one say these people never expected disaster? Some even had their phones fully charged and extra battery in case an emergency occurred. But still could reach no one. A lot of deeds would have been corrected if only there was a reliable communication device. Civilization is getting to its peak. Just this year, Japan joined the latest, fastest and most reliable network which works at some 5gbs. The 5G.

It already has 4 million users from just the country Korea, and China had followed suit, expecting something close to 150 million users by 2020. But this fastest network doesn’t go a long-range. It currently works within a city block. In fact, the 5G mmWave has difficulty crossing many walls and windows, so indoor coverage is minimal.

And that, that 5G, is the current future of communication. If this fails to reach to your loved ones, or you are out of the range of the network during disaster. What would be your fate? Now, if the future of communication isn’t that reliable, why not let’s go back to the past of communication. The two-way radio.

Contrary to what people believe or are made to believe, radio is the most reliable, affordable and easy to use device in communication. Take the 2016 Kaikoura, New Zealand earthquake as an example. When all the cell phone networks were down, the radio proved it’s authenticity.

The New Zealand Police could reach to the people through the two-way radio. Many more misunderstandings arise as regards these devices. People believe they’re big budget devices, they’re too complex, they require too much power, and so much more. But are these two-way interaction gadgets really so? Now, before we take a look at the advantages of radio, won’t you want to know how a radio works?

What does a two-way radio stand for?

A radio could mean a stereo that transmits news and information (one-way radio), but here we’re going to talk about a two-way radio also known as a walkie talkie. A two-way radio is a small easy-to-use hand-held device that is easy to carry about.

It looks like a mobile phone and has a microphone, a speaker and an antenna that bulges out right on its head. Its microphone and speaker are right to each other and the speaker is so much louder than a mobile phone’s so as to be accessible even to the hard in hearing.

It is called a two-way radio because it gives you the ability to both talk and listen. I.e send and receive messages. To send or receive a message, you hold the push to talk (PTT) button on your handheld. When the radio is static it makes a hissing sound.

The former static sound of the radio becomes silent as the receiver on the other end listens to your message. As you speak, your words are converted into radio waves and beamed out on the prearranged channel. Being part of the electromagnetic spectrum,  radio waves travel at the speed of light. And in an instance, the radio waves are converted back into fluctuating electric currents and the loudspeakers use those to reproduce the sound of your voice to the receiver’s hearing.

When you are through with talking, you say ‘over’ literally meaning ‘my talking is over’ and release the PTT button to switch to loudspeaker. Your receiver takes your position of talking and repeats the cycle. It was first created by Donald Hing when he was trying to create communication between his workers.

Now that we know how a radio works. In specific, how a two-way radio works, let’s look at the advantages of using it against other means of communication.

Why is radio the best means of communication during disaster management?

Listed below are considerable reasons why the adoption of the use of radio as a means of communication is preferable .

Cost Effective: One observable feature of the radio is that it requires no carrier charges. Unlike cell phones that constantly needs incurring feed, a radio needs no subscription at all, nor does it require a postal card.  Once set up, the device works perfectly fine, transmitting and receiving signals. It reduces the cost of communication as two or more people can use and share a radio. The only drawback here is that the sender and the receiver will have to tune to the same radio channel, and with an incessant cry of mayday, help would be rendered faster.

Reliability: Just like Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO puts it “Amidst the ruins and in the face of an emergency, the radio is often the first medium for survival. Its durability is an incomparable advantage, often enabling it to resist shocks and re-transmit messages of protection and prevention to as many people as possible, better and faster than other media, saving lives.”

The radio is an always-ready companion for outdoor activities or emergencies. Instead of having to turn on your mobile phones, wait till it boots, search for network connection which may be scarce in disastrous instances when Cell service towers and line may fail. The radio offers instant connectivity with just the press of a button.

Flexibility and Portability: The two-way radio is a portable device that can be carried about even by young children. It is designed to operate at stern conditions,  allow resistance to vibration, intense temperatures and wet conditions.

When under harsh weather conditions, or a disastrous event where all signals appear to be lost, the radio is always ready.Furthermore, while some mobile phones require special cases to prevent damage when they fall, the two-way radio was built to military specifications.

Long-lasting Backup: This is a commendable feature of two-way radio. It is made to last longer after charging when compared to a mobile phone. Some types of two-way radio could operate for 12 to 26 hours non stop. And since it serve no other purpose than communication, irrelevant pressing and usage of the battery is reduced.

Explicit Communication: The walkie-talkie allows straight open clear communication between individuals even under inconvenient weather. Jungle lovers strap dearly walkie-talkies so that they can keep in touch during hiking or hunting trips out where cell phone signals cannot be covered.

Conclusion – Best Means Of Communication During Disaster Management

Even families employ two-way radio or walkie-talkie, so they could reach others during leisure walks or picnics. In addition, unlike cell phones, you could reach to more than one user at once, if you could all tune to the same channel. So the walkie talkie is an independent device.

For as long as communication is involved, the radio has never failed in its reliability. And since disasters hardly affect it, the radio is the best option to communicate during disasters.

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