Discussions

For those who are considering stepping up to a ham radio license, I came across a recent presentation about the importance of ham radio during natural disasters. The presenter was Craig Fugate, former FEMA director and former Emergency Management Director for the state of FL. He was speaking to the Coastal Plains Amateur Radio Club in SE GA. (The blog with the full presentation and commentary is here: https://www.prc-77.com/2022/04/sage-advice.html) A couple of points really stood out to me:1) One of the first consequences of any disaster is that all commercial communications systems will be overloaded, particularly cell circuits. The cell sites may be up and functioning, but the demand will overwhelm them.2) All communications systems, regardless of how well they are hardened, have multiple points of failure. It’s not uncommon for EVERYTHING to fail. In fact, it happens with alarming regularity.3) Any communications infrastructure reliant on IP (internet protocol) – cell phones, VOIP, internet, etc. – is particularly vulnerable. Even commercial satellite phones at some point tie back to an IP-based ground system, and the connections will fail.4) Most local shelters are likely to have all of the communications capabilities they need. (That’s good news, at least!)5) Repeaters (the devices which give handheld radios their extended range) will fail and handheld-to-handheld communications will run into coverage issues very quickly. Being able to use the HF bands is far more important during emergencies. (And just for clarity: handheld radios do not transmit on HF bands. You would need a base station radio for that.) 6) In a disaster, antennas are more vulnerable than radios. Have spares.7) Have backup power because generators fail with alarming frequency. The blogger summarized it this way: “Craig’s strong focus was on the use of HF for both local and long-haul communications…don’t rely on anything that has a high risk of failure (like repeaters). His perspective is interesting – he’s seen too many commercial and government communications systems fail during real world disasters, particularly IP-based systems. We can distill Craig’s guidance down to one simple statement: [emergency management] at all levels needs point-to-point communications systems that don’t rely on any infrastructure.” So this level 3 & 4 stuff, but clearly valuable. – WS

Let me underscore M.E.’s comment that ‘back to normal can take many weeks’. A friend of mine is an experienced lineman for a power company which supplies much of the Southeast with electricity. In a recent discussion about power outages, he told me a couple of disconcerting things:– The company has not been investing in infrastructure upgrades. Instead, the policy is just to fix/replace equipment after it breaks. So there is diminishing robustness and redundancy in the electrical infrastructure.– Equipment is being run closer to its maximum ratings now. This is making it much harder to switch power around the grid. There is a significant risk of overloading existing equipment when trying to route power to locations with outages.– Supply chain disruptions have drastically extended the lead times for replacement equipment (it’s greater than a year for some of the larger pieces of equipment). Power companies can obtain parts and equipment from other power companies, but when the parts are gone they’re gone, and it will be a long time before replacement equipment will be available.– They are having a very hard time hiring and retaining line workers. In short, we have an electrical infrastructure that’s operating closer to its limits with less redundancy, parts that are harder to obtain and a shortage of people to install and repair equipment. So I think it’s reasonable to expect that any significant power outages – especially those caused by tornadoes or hurricanes – could last an uncomfortably long time. – WS

What’s worth canning?
20
14

Load more...
What’s worth canning?
20
14
Effective mosquito repellant?
13
13
How to sew and repair a leather glove
47
18
Pick axes and axe repair
17
10
Home security
2
16
Learning to fish
14
20

For those who are considering stepping up to a ham radio license, I came across a recent presentation about the importance of ham radio during natural disasters. The presenter was Craig Fugate, former FEMA director and former Emergency Management Director for the state of FL. He was speaking to the Coastal Plains Amateur Radio Club in SE GA. (The blog with the full presentation and commentary is here: https://www.prc-77.com/2022/04/sage-advice.html) A couple of points really stood out to me:1) One of the first consequences of any disaster is that all commercial communications systems will be overloaded, particularly cell circuits. The cell sites may be up and functioning, but the demand will overwhelm them.2) All communications systems, regardless of how well they are hardened, have multiple points of failure. It’s not uncommon for EVERYTHING to fail. In fact, it happens with alarming regularity.3) Any communications infrastructure reliant on IP (internet protocol) – cell phones, VOIP, internet, etc. – is particularly vulnerable. Even commercial satellite phones at some point tie back to an IP-based ground system, and the connections will fail.4) Most local shelters are likely to have all of the communications capabilities they need. (That’s good news, at least!)5) Repeaters (the devices which give handheld radios their extended range) will fail and handheld-to-handheld communications will run into coverage issues very quickly. Being able to use the HF bands is far more important during emergencies. (And just for clarity: handheld radios do not transmit on HF bands. You would need a base station radio for that.) 6) In a disaster, antennas are more vulnerable than radios. Have spares.7) Have backup power because generators fail with alarming frequency. The blogger summarized it this way: “Craig’s strong focus was on the use of HF for both local and long-haul communications…don’t rely on anything that has a high risk of failure (like repeaters). His perspective is interesting – he’s seen too many commercial and government communications systems fail during real world disasters, particularly IP-based systems. We can distill Craig’s guidance down to one simple statement: [emergency management] at all levels needs point-to-point communications systems that don’t rely on any infrastructure.” So this level 3 & 4 stuff, but clearly valuable. – WS

Let me underscore M.E.’s comment that ‘back to normal can take many weeks’. A friend of mine is an experienced lineman for a power company which supplies much of the Southeast with electricity. In a recent discussion about power outages, he told me a couple of disconcerting things:– The company has not been investing in infrastructure upgrades. Instead, the policy is just to fix/replace equipment after it breaks. So there is diminishing robustness and redundancy in the electrical infrastructure.– Equipment is being run closer to its maximum ratings now. This is making it much harder to switch power around the grid. There is a significant risk of overloading existing equipment when trying to route power to locations with outages.– Supply chain disruptions have drastically extended the lead times for replacement equipment (it’s greater than a year for some of the larger pieces of equipment). Power companies can obtain parts and equipment from other power companies, but when the parts are gone they’re gone, and it will be a long time before replacement equipment will be available.– They are having a very hard time hiring and retaining line workers. In short, we have an electrical infrastructure that’s operating closer to its limits with less redundancy, parts that are harder to obtain and a shortage of people to install and repair equipment. So I think it’s reasonable to expect that any significant power outages – especially those caused by tornadoes or hurricanes – could last an uncomfortably long time. – WS

For anyone who carries a concealed handgun or is considering it, I would highly recommend the “MAG40” class taught by Massad Ayoob. The classroom portion is heavily focused on what to expect from the legal system AFTER you’re involved in an incident involving a gun. It was very eye-opening & very informative. If you’re not familiar with the name, the instructor is a retired cop who’s earned a national reputation as an expert witness & firearms instructor. In the class, he covers what to do & say (and what NOT to do & say) after you’ve had to defend yourself: from the time “bang” happens to the point that you’re facing a jury (if it goes that far). He also addresses the mental anguish and how to defend yourself in the court of public opinion, so you can have some semblance of a private life after an incident. If you’re involved in an incident where there’s a gun in your hand, your job is at risk, your friendships and family relationships will be tested and the legal costs are staggering – even if you’re exonerated. If the incident has racial implications or the prosecuting attorney is anti-gun, your out-of-pocket costs will easily be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the public backlash may force you to move. I’m not an attorney, so I had no idea about any of this before I took the class. (I took 70 pages of notes in two days. My hand hurt from all of the writing…) Bottom line: keep a cool head when you’re carrying and know your state’s laws so you can keep yourself out of court. And seriously consider CC insurance… (I’m not affiliated in any way with the instructor. I’m just a satisfied participant.) -WS


Load more...