Amateur Radio Emergency Go Kits
Amateur Radio Operators involved with the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service; “RACES”, The Amateur Radio Emergency Service; “ARES” or even the SKYWARN system are prepared to respond in emergency situations to provide radio communications in the event of primary communication failure, like the 911 emergency system, or to provide secondary communications, non life threatening but vital information, during an emergency situation.
Amateur Radio operators that are involved with these emergency organizations keep what they call a “GO BAG” at the ready. When an emergency event occurs these “Go Bags” are ready for deployment assuring that the Amateur Radio operator has the supplies and equipment they will need to deploy quickly to their emergency posts.
The contents of a “Go Kit” will vary depending on the individual Ham Operator. They range from the simplistic to being in some cases exotic! Some Ham Operators really go to the extreme and are equipped for almost any situation you could possibly think of.
When you plan out your “Go Kit” there are several basic things you should take into account. One of the first things that come to mind is where you will be most likely deployed. Do you live in an urban area or a rural area? A “Go Kit” designed for a rural environment may have camping equipment as one of its primary components, for example a “Go Kit” for rural deployment might have fire starting supplies compared to its urban counterpart.
In any case you should have at the least:
- A 2 meter or better yet a dual or tri band Hand Held (HT) radio
- An antenna other than the basic HT antenna that came with your radio. Such as a J-Pole or other antenna with a bit more gain to it.
- Extra batteries or an auxiliary power source.
- Writing materials: Paper, notebook, pens, pencils
- Personal comfort and hygiene supplies. (TOILOT PAPER!)
- Some sort of Food Bars and a water bottle that can be filled before you deploy.
- About 20 dollars emergency cash.
Many Amateur Radio Operators will break their kit up into 3 levels of deployment.
- The Day Kit - For short term deployment and emergency drills. Small fanny pack, light weight.
- The Supplemental Kit - Taken when you will be deployed 24 hours or better. Backpack or other suitable carrying bag.
- Disaster kit – For when deployment will be for extended amounts of time. Large duffel bag or back pack.
Keep in mind when you design your “Go Kit” that it is of the utmost importance that you will be totally self sufficient during an emergency situation. You should not become a liability to others around you.
The following suggested lists are from RACES.
- Dual-band HT in padded belt case.
- Copy of current FCC Operating License.
- "Tiger tail" (enhances transmit and receive of typical "rubber duck" by 3 db).
- Extra high-capacity (1000 man) NiCad, or backup AA battery case for HT.
- DC adapter & cigarette plug cord for HT
- Two extra 2A fuses, for HT cord.
- Earphone and/or speaker mike
- Spartan pattern Swiss Army pocket knife
- Leatherman multi-purpose tool
- Mini-Mag-Lite, extra bulb and spare AAs
- Pencil and pocket notepad
- Emergency gas / phone money ($10 bill, + four quarters and five dimes in pill box).
- SO-239 to male-BNC adapter to fit HT to mobile antenna coax and female BNC to SO-239 to fit HT gain antenna to jumper.
- 6 ft. RG8-X jumper w/BHC male and female connectors to extend HT antenna with suction cups or auto window clip.
- Spare eye glasses of current prescription.
- Band aids, moist towelettes and sunscreen
- Pocket sewing kit, matches
- Small pocket compass
- Operating reference card for HT
- ARES phone and frequency reference card
The Supplemental Kit – Backup Bag
- Neck-lanyard pocket with spare car keys, $20 emergency cash, credit card, long-distance calling card and ARES photo ID.
- Second, "backup / loaner" 2-meter HT. (battery packs and accessories should interchange with the dual-bander)
- Spare NiCad and AA-battery pack, ear phone and speaker-mike for second HT
- Operating manuals for HT''s.
- Fused DC adapter cords with Molex connectors for brick amplifier and HTs
- Extra 10'' AWG 10 gage twin lead extension cord, with battery clips, in-line fuses and Molex connectors to power brick amp or HT.
- Compact, rugged, 25-40w 2 meter or dual-band brick amplifier. - See note at right>>.
- Gain antennas for both HTs: (telescoping half-wave Larsen and flexible dual-band Comet CH-72, 1/4-wave VHF, 5/8-wave UHF).
- HT NiCad and 12V gel cell wall chargers.
- Four NP2-12 gel cel1 batteries to power small brick amp at 10w @ 25% duty cycle / 8 hrs.
- Two refills of AA Alkaline batteries for HT.
- RG8-X jumpers with soldered PL-259s, two 3 ft., one, 6 ft., one 10 ft. and one 25 ft. with double-female connectors to combine all.
- BNC-male+BNC female to SO-239;
- BNC-male+BNC female to PL-259;
- NMO to SO-239 adapters.
- Cable ties, large and small, 6 each
- Lensatic compass, 7.5min. series area topo.
- Two sharpened pencils, pencil sharpener, gum eraser, note pad, permanent marker.
- ARES Field Resource Manual
- Compact, rugged, flashlight (Pelican Stealthlite), with extra bulb and AA batteries
- Two sets of spare fuses (2A, 10A, 15A) for HT cords, mobile radio or brick amplifier.
- Comfort, safety and basic first aid items: sunglasses, matches, tissues, toothbrush, sun block, sewing kit, insect repellent, tweezers, band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze pads, wound cleaning wipes, etc.
- 3-ring binder with County ARES Handbook, Skywarn Net Control Operations Manual, area topo maps and operating manual for auto mobile rig, in zipper portfolio.
- Dual-band or 2-meter magnetic mount antenna, with portable ground plane.
- MS-44 mast kit, tripod adapter, dual-band base antenna and 100 ft. of 9913F coax on reel.
- AC charger for HT NiCad’s and small gel cells
- BCI Group 27, 95 ah AGM battery and 1.5 amp charger (48 hrs. power for HT brick amp or mobile rig on low or medium power, plus 12V, 8w fluorescent light, for use as needed).
- 12-volt fluorescent drop-light with alligator clips for attaching to auto or gel cell battery, with spare bulb. Adequate light is important for operating efficiency and morale. A strong, battery powered light is safer and more reliable than gasoline lanterns.
- Weller Pyropen soldering torch with 2 cans of propane fuel, 63/37 eutectic solder and flux.
- Leather work glove shells, wool finger less liners, warm hat, wind/rain suit, sweater, insulated rubber safety boots, extra dry socks and change of underwear.
- Tarp or poncho
- Wool blanket or insulated poncho liner
- Two message pads, two pencils, grease pencil, two sheet protectors, 12 push pins.
- Vinyl electrical tape for rain wraps, 1 roll
- Cable ties, large and small, 1 dozen each
- Rubber bands, medium and large, six ea.
- Adjustable open-end wrench, 6"x 0-5/8"
- Folding hex key set
- Klein pliers with crimpers and side cutters
- Needle nose pliers
- Channel locks or Vise-Grip pliers
- Small, mobile-type SWR/power meter
- Pocket VOM or multi-meter w/ test leads
- Assorted connectors / adaptors including no-solder BNC and UHF for emergency repairs
- First Aid Kit container.
- 3 days’ supply of bottled water and nonperishable food (which can be eaten cold), mess kit and utensils.
- Personal hygiene and sanitation supplies.
The above “Go Kit” lists are provided for a guide line only. There are plenty of things that could be added to improve upon them; this is totally up to you.
Some Amateur Radio Operators find that a good starting point for their “Go Kit” are the commercially available “72 Hour Kits”, which provide basic survival supplies and 3 days of food and water.