CB radios are great for limited TEOTWAWKI communication purposes. They’re not a secure line, so that’s a downer, and their range is limited, so that’s a bummer, but if you’ve got a radio gig set up in your ride or home, and so do your neighbors, post-doomsday you can hop on and say, “Yo, George. Come on over, let’s play poker for green beans.”
Related article: Police Scanners for Home Preparedness and Bug Out Bags
I have a Radio Shack CB radio that I used to have in my truck, “Old Blue” (R.I.P.). The truck is now gone, so the radio is sitting in my basement waiting to be called on, too bulky really for my car. Truth be told, I never really used it that much anyway, but they’re great if you’re on the road a lot, or if you and your homies are rolling out in a TEOTWAWKI convoy. If you tune in to the trucker channel (19) you can get up-to-the-minute traffic reports from trucker dudes and dudettes up the road ahead of you, plus some sketchy trucker jokes, but beyond that, I don’t find much going on when I channel surf the CB. I had a CB radio back in high school, which seemed to be more during the CB radio heydey when there was a lot more chatter.
Incidentally, is it just me or do today’s CB radios have significantly LESS range than the older models? I mean, shit, I can’t reach very far with mine, not like my old one used to. Someone told me that a number of years back the feds passed a law limiting the range on these radios, but that information came from a questionable source. Anyone know? My understanding is the current maximum distance allowed is 155 miles, but mine doesn’t reach that far.
Probably the most useful SHTF purpose of a CB radio is the availability of Channel 9, used for emergency purposes only. The Radio Emergency Associated Communications Team (REACT) monitors this channel – supposedly. Though this was probably more useful before cellphones become so common.
Your typical CB radio will have 40 channels. Some models also offer sideband. If you have a radio in your home (called a “base”) you can mount the antenna 20′ higher than the highest point around or 60′ above the ground, whichever is less. Some people will hack their CB radio equipment to move beyond channel 40, but it’s against the law, because you’re moving into HAM radio land.
You’ll also want to know the CB lingo if you hop onboard. It’s a whole sub-culture. You’ll need a “handle” – a code name, if you will. The more flamboyant the better. Back in the day I switched between “Wild Weasel” and “Soupbone”. You want to get a list of the entire “police 10-codes.” This will act as your foreign language guide. A few of the more exciting 10 codes include the following:
- 10-37 Gang Activity
- 10-56 Intoxicatd Pedestrian
- 10-74 Civil Disturbance
- 10-78 Back up (unit)
- 10-86 Crime in Progress
- 10-96 Mental Subject
- 10-98 Prison Break
Then when you get good you can say things like, “Yo, yo CB radio party peeps, I’ve got a 10-86, probable 10-37, requesting 10-78, over.” People will marvel at your radio lingo. Also, if you’re in a rural state like Maine, pay attention when you hear “10-45” which means “Animal carcass at . . .” Why? DINNER! A LOT of people hit deer and moose in Maine. Some people listen to the airwaves at home just waiting to hear this so they can race to the scene and say to the victim, as they’re beying loaded into the ambulance, “Hey dude, can I have that deer? Tell the warden I can have it – please.” Mmmm, free, free range meat. No dragging it out of the woods, no hunting license required, no time off form work to sit in the November cold, etc. Just gut it out right there on the pavement. What’s better?
On a similar note, my grandfather (also R.I.P.) told me a story once about this Air Force dude on a base in California way back in the day (Gramps retired from the A.F.). This dude would go home on the weekend in upstate California, and when he left, he always took the massive dually truck home. One day gramps asks him, “Why do you drive that thing home every Friday?” Dude’s response, “I drive back roads the entire way home. There are deer everywhere. I have 5 kids to feed. The deer come out, I hit them, throw them in the back – dinner.”
But anyway, yeah . . . that’s it.
– Ranger Man