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The Emergency Radio Frequencies Every Prepper Must Know

The world is in such a chaotic place right now that learning new survival and communication skills are becoming a vital necessity.  The ability to communicate post-disaster is absolutely essential if you want to make the most informed, and safest decisions that you can.

Emergency communications not only help you to know impending weather, find resources, and avoid dangerous areas, but they also help you know where loved ones are at, or even allow you to call out for help should find yourself in some dangerous predicament.

You don’t need a tricked-out communication system (though that’s nice) to meet meet your communication prepper needs. You can start with a few simple products, some knowhow, and build from there as your interests or needs change.

It can be confusing to know just where to turn the dial to during a disaster if you’re new to emergency communications, however. You may have a radio, but knowing how to use it to its fullest potential is quite another matter. So, in order to help with this process, below are all of the emergency radio frequencies that I know.

I would encourage you to add more to the list in the comments section so we can update this post accordingly over time.

I would also encourage you to print this article off to keep should you need it someday down the road. Store it with your communication equipment.

CB Radio

Citizens’ Band (CB) radio is particularly popular with truckers, hikers, and campers. It not only is incredibly easy to use, but it’s a relatively easy form of disaster communications to break into. Part of the reason is due to the fact that there is no license required to receive or transmit. That’s nice.

midland cb radio

Midland’s classic CB radio.

I highly recommend that you get your family a CB radio and a disaster communications plan set into place so that you can still communicate without your phones or internet post-disaster. You can buy the classic CB radio for around $100.

CB radio operates off of 40 distinct channels, and pretty much every CB radio out there will have access to all 40 of these channels. Keep in mind that Channel 9 is distinctly reserved for the Emergency/REACT channel. As far as I know, it’s the only channel that is distinctly reserved.

Keep in mind that anything you say on CB radio frequencies can be heard by anybody else within range, so it is not a source of private conversation. There is also a lengthy list of “10 codes” that people use on CB radios. You will want to familiarize yourself with those.

CB Radio Abbreviations

REACT – Radio Emergency Associations Communications Teams. These are volunteers throughout the country who monitor this channel to assist in emergency situations. They often work at public events, disasters, and other emergency situations to provide valuable communications services.

  • Channel 3 (26.985 MHz) – Prepper CB Network (AM)
  • Channel 4 (27.005 MHz) – The American Preppers Network (TAPRN)
  • Channel 9 (27.065 MHz) – Universal CB Emergency/REACT channel
  • Channel 13 (27.115 MHz) – Typically used within campgrounds and marine areas
  • Channel 15 (27.135 MHz) – Used by Californian truckers
  • Channel 17 (27.165 MHz) – Used by Californian truckers headed east/west
  • Channel 19 (27.185 MHz) – Main trucker channel
  • Channel 36 (27.365 MHz) – Survivalist network
  • Channel 37 (27.375 MHz) – Prepper 37 USB

Freebanding CB Radio

Freebanding is the act of utilizing the frequencies in-between the different CB channels. Oftentimes, you may need a CB radio with “freeband operation” in order to even tune in to these channels. Freebanding offers improved privacy over the typical 40 channels (simply because less people use it), but it by no means will give you a private conversation. Anybody within range can listen to what you say through freebanding CB channels.

  • 27.3680 – Prepper network
  • 27.3780 – Prepper network
  • 27.4250 – Prepper network

Ham Radio

portable ham radio

The Baofeng UV-5R, a cheap, portable ham radio.

While it requires a license to transmit, ham radio will allow you a range and breadth of communication that is not available post-disaster via other methods. You can get started in ham radio with a simple $25 Baofeng UV-5R, but I would highly recommend investing the money to get something a little more user friendly as your first ham radio. I made that mistake.

A better option for many would be something like Midland’s Dual Band Amateur Two-Way Radio. It can be used in the home or mounted in your vehicle. It has more power and is generally a better overall product, but the Baofeng is more portable. You could stick it in your bug out bag.

There is quite a steep learning curve with ham as well. The quintessential guide to learning ham radio (and passing the license exam) is the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual.

If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, you can learn how to bounce signals off of the ionosphere, off of the moon, or even off of meteor showers. That takes a bit of study to figure out how to do, however. If you’re of a more technical/engineering mindset, you shouldn’t have any problem figuring any of this out. Keep in mind that night is typically a time of better reception quality.

You’ll also want to know some ways to find important ham radio frequencies beyond what I have below.

Ham Radio Abbreviations

NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government operated administration that sends out broadcasts every five minutes 24/7 relating to hurricane, storm, solar flare, nuke, and other emergency information.

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Association. They are one of the frontline government agencies to respond to any large scale disaster with medical care, triage, shelter, food, and other forms of humanitarian aid.

  • 34.90 – Nationwide National Guard frequency during emergencies
  • 39.46 – Inter-department emergency communications by police
  • 47.42 – Nationwide Red Cross channel during humanitarian aid missions
  • 121.50 – International frequency for aeronautical emergencies
  • 138.225 – Disaster relief channel used by FEMA
  • 154.265 – Used by firemen during emergencies
  • 154.28 – Used by firemen during emergencies
  • 154.295 – Used by firemen during emergencies
  • 155.160 – Used by various agencies during search and rescue operations
  • 155.475 – Emergency communications for police
  • 156.75 – International maritime weather alerts
  • 156.80 – International maritime distress channel. All ships at sea are required to monitor this channel.
  • 162.40 – NOAA
  • 162.425 – NOAA
  • 162.45 – NOAA
  • 162.475 – NOAA
  • 162.50 – NOAA
  • 162.525 – NOAA
  • 162.55 – NOAA
  • 163.275 – NOAA
  • 163.4875 – A National Guard emergency communications frequency
  • 163.5125 – Military National Disaster Preparedness frequency
  • 168.55 – Emergency and disaster frequency used by civilian agencies of the federal government
  • 243.00 – Military aviation emergencies
  • 311.00 – US Air Force flight channel
  • 317.70 – US Coast Guard aviation frequency
  • 317.80 – US Coast Guard aviation frequency
  • 319.40 – US Air Force frequency
  • 340.20 – US Navy aviator frequency
  • 409.625 – Department of State national communications frequency
  • 462.675 – Emergency communications and traveler assistance in General Mobile Radio Service

High Frequency Emergency Nets

There are different tiers of ham radio licenses, and to transmit via high frequency (HF), you’re going to need a specialized license. If you have a HF radio, these are some potential stations that you may want to check in on:

High Frequency Emergency Net Abbreviations

ARES – The Amateur Radio Emergency Service. A nationwide group of HAM radio volunteers with specialized training in emergency communications that provides communications services during emergencies.

RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. HAM radio volunteers who have registered with RACES to work with their state during various types of disasters. They are only called up after RACES has been activated.

SATERN – Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio. Salvation Army workers with emergency comms and message handling training that help the Salvation Army to coordinate its humanitarian aid efforts during and post-disaster.

  • 03808.0 – Caribbean weather information
  • 03845.0 – Gulf Coast
  • 03862.5 – Mississippi Area Traffic
  • 03865.0 – West Virginia Emergency
  • 03872.5 – Hurricane information
  • 03873.0 – West and Central Gulf ARES/Louisiana ARES, Mississippi ARES
  • 03910.0 – Central Texas Emergency/Mississippi ARES/Louisiana Traffic
  • 03923.0 – Mississippi ARES, North Carolina ARES
  • 03925.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana Emergencies
  • 03927.0 – North Carolina ARES
  • 03935.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Louisiana ARES, Texas ARES, Mississippi ARES, Alabama Emergencies
  • 03940.0 – Southern Florida Emergency
  • 03944.0 – West Gulf Emergency
  • 03950.0 – Hurricane Watch/Norther Florida Emergency
  • 03955.0 – South Texas Emergency
  • 03960.0 – North East Coast Hurricane
  • 03965.0 – Alabama Emergency
  • 03975.0 – Georgia ARES/Texas RACES
  • 03993.5 – Gulf Coast health and welfare/South Carolina ARES/South Carolina RACES
  • 03995.0 – Gulf Coast Weather
  • 07225.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
  • 072332.0 – North Carolina ARES
  • 07235.0 – Louisiana Emergency/Central Gulf Coast Hurricane
  • 07240.0 – American Red Cross/US Gulf Coast Disaster/Texas Emergency
  • 07242.0 – Southern Florida ARES
  • 07243.0 – Alabama Emergency/South Carolina Emergency
  • 07247.5 – Northern Florida ARES
  • 07248.0 – Texas RACES
  • 07250.0 – Texas Emergency
  • 07254.0 – Northern Florida Emergency
  • 07260.0 – Gulf Coast West Hurricane
  • 07264.0 – Gulf Coast health and welfare
  • 07265.0 – Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio (SATERN)
  • 07273.0 – Texas ARES
  • 07275.0 – Georgia ARES
  • 07280.0 – Louisiana Emergency
  • 07285.0 – West Gulf ARES (day)/Louisiana ARES (day)/Mississippi ARES/Texas ARES
  • 07290.0 – Central Gulf Coast Hurricane, Gulf Coast Weather/Louisiana ARES/Texas ARES/Mississippi ARES
  • 14222.0 – Health and Welfare
  • 14245.0 – Health and Welfare
  • 14265.0 – SATERN
  • 14268.0 – Amateur Radio Readiness Group
  • 14303.0 – International Assistance and Traffic
  • 14316.0 – Health and Welfare
  • 14320.0 – Health and Welfare
  • 14325.0 – Hurricane Watch
  • 21310.0 – Health and Welfare (Spanish)
  • 28450.0 – Health and Welfare (Spanish)

Maritime US VHF Channels

If you are near the coast or oceangoing, these are a few of the frequencies that you may want to keep handy.

ChannelShip Transmit MHzShip Receive MHzUse
06156.300156.300Inter-ship Safety
13156.650156.650Inter-ship navigation safety
16156.800156.800International Distress, Safety, and Calling

Final Frequency Thoughts

This is by no means going to be an exhaustive list of all the emergency radio frequencies out there, but it should give you a fairly good start. Many localities will have their own emergency frequencies that you are going to want to take note of to further refine your emergency communications prepping. For example, Alaska, California, The Rockies, and various other geographical regions are going to have not only their own weather stations, but they’re own forms of tornado watches, fire watches, avalanche watches, and the like.

If you would really like to delve into more emergency radio frequencies in your area, I highly recommend checking out the following sites:

In addition, you’re probably going to want to keep a copy of the ARRL Repeater Directory on-hand at all times if you are truly wanting to be prepared for a disaster situation. This book will give you all of the information you need for repeaters in your area, perchance the power ever goes down and you’re not able to use your phone or the internet to figure out what repeaters are around you.

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